by Ken Cayce

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Acts Explained

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Book of Acts Explained

The Acts of the Apostles is a unique and therefore crucial book of the New Testament. It alone presents an extensive picture of early church life and history. The title as we know it comes from the second century and only partially discloses the theme of the document. The book focuses primarily on the acts of two apostles, Peter and Paul. And it proposes to show the continuation "of all that Jesus began both to do and teach" (1:1).

It contains the acts Jesus carried out after His ascension, through the Holy Spirit, in establishing the church. The author evidently follows the Great Commission in developing this theme, showing the beginning in Jerusalem, the outreach to Judea and Samaria, and the expansion to the distant city of Rome (1:8).

Verse 1 demonstrates clearly that the unnamed author of Acts is the same person as the unnamed author of the third gospel (Luke 1:3 with Acts 1:1-2). The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts form a single, two-volume work. The author quite certainly was Luke for the following reason: First, the author was a companion of Paul. (16:10-17; 20:5 - 21:18; 27:1 - 28:16). The author distinguishes himself from Paul's other companions in Acts by naming them. Of Paul's unnamed companions only Titus and Luke could have been with Paul during each of the three "we" passages.

As the Book of Acts closes, the author places himself beside Paul at the Roman imprisonment. Paul in his epistle states that Luke, not Titus, was with him at that time (Philemon 24). Second, the author gives some evidence of being a physician by the attention he gives to medical detail (Luke 8:43), and the technical Greek terms he uses (3:7). Luke was called "the beloved physician" (Col. 4:14). Third, the early church writers attribute the third gospel and the Book of Acts to Luke. Since Luke is an otherwise little-known figure, there is no logical reason to attribute the authorship to him, unless he is in fact the author.

Luke nowhere mentions the date for the writing of this document, yet the manner in which he closed the book suggests a date. Luke stops abruptly after mentioning the duration of Paul's Roman imprisonment. He mentions neither the progress of the church nor the plans of Paul. Therefore, it seems as if Luke stops where the history ends; he describes the events up to the current time. If so, the date is about (A.D. 62).

Luke wrote to convince Theophilus of the "certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed" (Luke 1:4). Theophilus was probably a Gentile official who had been won to Christ, and Luke desires that he may understand more clearly the historical events that underlie his Christian faith and practice.

Second, Luke's purpose is not to write the history of the early church. Nothing is recorded for large segments of time (e.g., A.D. 35-44). Luke is not a chronicler seeking to record every event. But he does write a history that shows the beginning and spread of the church. He focuses on the important initial events and those that give meaning to the epistles of Paul by tracing Paul's ministry. Chronologically, the book divides into three periods:

(1) Luke concentrates on the several years involved in the beginnings of the church among the Jews (chapter 2), the Samaritans (chapter 8), and the Gentiles at Caesarea (chapter 10), from (1:1 to 11:18).

(2) A period of virtual silence covering about 10 years follows. Glimpses of these times can be caught (in 9:3 and 11:19-21).

(3) The period (A.D. 44-62), focuses around the ministry of Paul, and so might be designated the Pauline period.

Third, Luke wrote to provide a unity between Christ's works in the gospels and the apostles' labors after His ascension. That which Theophilus experienced in his church in A.D. 60 was vastly different from all he had read in Luke's gospel. Acts explains those changes. It shows the transition from Christ's message of a coming kingdom to the apostles' message of one new body of Jew and Gentile in Christ, called the church (Eph. 2:11 - 3:12). Often the experiences of Acts reveal a transitional event rather than advocate a doctrinal truth. The apostles in their epistles explain the doctrinal truths that are intended to be normative for God's people today. Thus, Luke's purpose in Acts is more to provide a bridge for understanding these changes than to provide a basis for universal doctrinal truth.

Finally, Luke wrote to show to the Roman world that Christianity is not a subversive political movement. Unlike some of the Jews of Judea, Christians were not seeking to overthrow Rome. Though they spoke of another King and rejected the emperor as "lord," they submitted to political authority. Though the apostles were often imprisoned, they were always exonerated. Sometimes God Himself intervened (5:18-20; 9:1-5; 12:5-10; 16:24-26; 28:3-6); other times the governmental authority did (16:35-39; 18:12-17; 19:37-41; 23:29; 26:32). But each time they were vindicated.

Few biblical books are as misused as the Book of Acts. Some denominations have collected their distinctive and divisive teachings from their interpretation of them, of what to do but also what not to do. We cannot properly interpret the Book of Acts by merely teaching the experiences the apostles had. We must experience the things they taught. The apostles taught out of their experiences, and we ought to do the same thing.

When the apostles experienced something early in the church age, yet later taught contrary principles, we must realize God does not desire us to practice that today. For example, the apostles cast lots in Acts 1; we should not, for we possess the inner leading of God's Spirit (Rom. 8:14, 26-27; Gal. 5:18). The early church shared all things communally (chapters 2 and 4). We are instructed to be faithful stewards who freely and cheerfully share (2 Cor. 9:6-8). Some regard the absence of musical instruments in Acts as a mandate to exclude them from church services today. The apostles do not so instruct us. Some teach us to receive the Holy Spirit as (in Acts 2); others, as (in Acts 10). The apostles teach, however, that everyone who receives Christ also receives the Spirit (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:13; 1 John 3:24; 4:13).

"We must not make the tragic spiritual mistake of 'teaching the experiences of the apostles,' but rather 'experience the teachings of the apostles' "


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Chapter Selection


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Acts 1 Acts 11 Acts 21
Acts 2 Acts 12 Acts 22
Acts 3 Acts 13 Acts 23
Acts 4 Acts 14 Acts 24
Acts 5 Acts 15 Acts 25
Acts 6 Acts 16 Acts 26
Acts 7 Acts 17 Acts 27
Acts 8 Acts 18 Acts 28
Acts 9 Acts 19  
Acts 10 Acts 20  

Acts 1

Acts Chapter 1

The Book of Acts was penned by Luke, the physician. Many people call Acts the Acts of the Apostles, but really, if you want to add to the name Acts, perhaps, a better name would be the Acts of the early church. Really, very little is written about the apostles in Acts.

In (Colossians 4:14), Luke is called the beloved Physician. In (verse 24), Paul speaks of Luke as a fellow laborer. In (2 Timothy 4:11), Paul says that only Luke is with him. My own personal belief is that Luke and Paul were very good friends and perhaps, Luke being a physician was of some assistance to Paul with his (thorn in his side), illness. Paul had prayed three times for God to heal him, and the Lord had said no.

The Book of Luke (penned by Luke), and the Book of Acts (penned by Luke), were both addressed to Theophilus. The word Theophilus means friend of God. If there was a real Theophilus, he was probably a person high in government. I personally believe that for fear of the letter being intercepted and getting in the wrong hands, Luke wrote this to a friend of God (unnamed).

At the time this was written, many Christians were being killed for their belief. Perhaps, Luke was trying to protect whoever this was.

There are many who feel that Acts is one of the most important Books in the Bible, because it shows the struggles of the early Christians, and how many of the practices of the church were established.

In Acts, we see the departure and promise of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We also, see teachings on the power to minister or witness that the Spirit gives to the believers. We will see home missions and foreign missions dealt with as well. A great deal of Acts deals with Paul's journeys.

We see in the Book of Acts how the gospel of Jesus Christ is spread not only to the Hebrews, but to the entire world through the empowering of the Holy Spirit of God. One thing peculiar to Acts, is that Luke reassures in this letter that Christians are not trying to overthrow the Roman government.

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

"The former treatise" must refer to Luke's gospel. Both books were written to an otherwise unknown "Theophilus". Theophilus probably was a Roman official, since Luke designates him as "most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:3).

That account, "Former treatise"; chronicled the life and teaching of Jesus, through His death, resurrection and ascension (Luke 24:51).

The Greek term (kratistos), is used only three other times in the New Testament. Each of these is used to address a Roman official: Felix (23:26; 24:3), and Festus (26:25). In the book of Acts, Luke continues the ministry of Christ he began in his gospel. Christ's ministry in Acts is carried on by His Spirit through His disciples.

We see here, that Luke is speaking of the Book of Luke which he had written prior to this Book of Acts. We see that Luke is explaining that the first letter was written about what Jesus taught and did. This Book will be written more about how the Christians handle the ministry after Jesus goes to heaven.

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

"Taken up": Christ's ascension to the Father (Luke 24:51). Luke uses this term 3 other times (verses 9, 11, 22), to describe the end of the Lord's earthly ministry (John 6:62; 13:1, 3; 16:28; 17:13; 20:17).

"Through the Holy Ghost had given commandments": The Spirit was the source and power of Jesus' earthly ministry (Matt. 4:1; 12:18; Mark 1:12; Luke 3:22; 4:1, 14, 18), and of the apostle's service (Luke 24:49; John 14:16-17; 16:7). Orders or "Commandments" are authoritative New Testament truths, revealed to the apostles (John 14:26; 16:13-15).

"He had chosen": The Lord sovereignly chose the apostles for salvation and service (John 6:70; 15-16).

Jesus walked with the apostles forty days after His resurrection from the dead. He gave exact instructions for what they were to do after His departure. Jesus had promised He would send the Comforter (Holy Ghost), to teach them all truth.

This Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, would be their teacher and guide. As we said before, the purpose of having the Holy Ghost was to give them power and courage to be effective witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:3 "To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:"

"Shewed himself ... many infallible proofs" (John 20:30; 1 Cor. 15:5-8). To give the apostles confidence to present His message, Jesus entered a locked room (John 20:19), showed His crucifixion wounds (Luke 24:39), and ate and drank with the disciples (Luke 24:41-43). "Forty days": The period between Jesus' resurrection and ascension during which He appeared at intervals to the apostles and others (1 Cor. 15:5-8), and provided convincing evidence of His resurrection.

"Kingdom of God" (8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 18:23, 31). Here this expression refers to the sphere of salvation, the gracious domain of divine rule over believer's hearts (see notes on 1 Cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:5; 17:7; Col. 1:13-14; Rev. 11:15; 12:10). This was the dominant theme during Christ's earthly ministry (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; 9:2; John 3:3-21).

For some specific "proofs" (see Luke 24:36-43).

In the Book of John, we saw where Jesus even showed the disciples the nail prints in His hands and His side which was pierced after He had risen from the grave. John tells of three very dramatic appearances to the apostles of Jesus after His resurrection.

Perhaps, the most vivid one is where Jesus is on the side of the Sea of Galilee and prepares a meal for His followers. In this incident, Peter and the others had fished all night and caught none. Jesus told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and they caught one hundred and fifty-three large fish.

During these forty days after the resurrection, Jesus prepared His followers for the trial they would face. It is nothing for God who breathed the breath of life in man in the first place to rise again.

We will read just a few verses down, a very important appearance when some of the apostles see Jesus go to heaven on a cloud in front of their eyes. Our hope of resurrection is because He rose again.

Verses 4-5: Compare Luke's gospel account of John the Baptist's words where a baptism of fire is also predicted (Luke 3:16-17). Christ excluded that work from what would shortly occur on Pentecost, for it refers to a more remote work involving judgment (Luke 3:17).

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

"Assembled together": An alternative reading, "eating with them," is preferred (10:41; Luke 24:42-43). The fact that Jesus ate provides additional proof of His bodily resurrection.

"Wait for the promise of the Father": Jesus repeatedly promised that God would send them His Spirit (Luke 11:13; 24:49; John 7:39; 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; see note on John 20:22).

This is saying that while Jesus was gathered with the disciples (followers of Jesus), not just the eleven but one hundred and twenty. He not only asked, but commanded them to stay in Jerusalem until the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God, came to them.

In John, Jesus had told them of this Comforter.

John 14:15-17 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" "[Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."

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

"John truly baptized with water" (see note on 2:38).

Baptized with the Holy Ghost": The apostles had to wait until the Day of Pentecost, but since then all believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit at salvation (see note on 1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Titus 3:5-6).

"Not many days hence": God's promise was fulfilled just 10 days later.

John the Baptist's baptism was the baptism of repentance as we will see in chapter 19 of Acts verse 4. This baptism of the Holy Ghost, spoken of here, is the baptism of fire. It will set you on fire to work for Jesus. In (Mark 1:8), John the Baptist tells us:

"I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

In (Matthew 3:11), John the Baptist goes into these two baptisms a little further.

Matthew 3:11 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and [with] fire:"

Verses 6-8: The disciples' question concerning the nearness of Christ's literal kingdom is not incongruous with Old Testament promises (Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 2:44-45), nor with the gospel teachings misunderstood God's kingdom program.

The words "restore again the kingdom to Israel" imply four facts:

(1) this kingdom had once literally existed with Israel;

(2) this kingdom is not now present;

(3) this kingdom will come in God's unrevealed time (Matt. 24:36, 42); and

(4) this kingdom will be the same, literal kingdom that once existed, only now with the promised Christ as King.

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

"Restore again the kingdom to Israel": The apostles still believed the earthly form of the kingdom of Messiah would soon be re-established (Luke 19:11; 24:21). They also knew that (Ezekiel 36 and Joel 2), connected the coming of the kingdom with the outpouring of the Spirit whom Jesus had promised.

The disciples expected Jesus to set up His Kingdom immediately. They were like so many people today, who want to know the exact day and hour when Jesus will take over as King of kings and Lord of lords.

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

This verse shows that the apostles' expectation of a literal, earthly kingdom mirrored what Christ taught and what the Old Testament predicted. Otherwise, He would have corrected them about such a crucial aspect of His teaching.

Times or the seasons": These two words refer to features, eras, and events that will be part of His earthly kingdom reign, which will begin at the second coming (Matt. 25:21-34). The exact time of His return, however, remains unrevealed (Mark 13:32; Deut. 29:29).

We see here, that even though we are to remain ready always, no one, except the Father know the exact time.

Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

The apostles' mission of spreading the gospel was the major reason the Holy Spirit empowered them. This event dramatically altered world history, and the gospel message eventually reached all parts of the earth (Matt. 28:19-20).

"Receive power": The apostles had already experienced the Holy Spirit's saving, guiding, teaching and miracle-working power. Soon they would receive His indwelling presence and a new dimension of power for witness (see notes on 2:4; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 3:16, 20).

"Witnesses": People who tell the truth about Jesus Christ (John 14:26; 1 Pet. 3:15). The Greek word means "one who dies for his faith" because that was commonly the price of witnessing.

"Judea": The region in which Jerusalem was located.

"Samaria": The region immediately to the north of Judea (see note on 8:5).

The first part of this verse is better translated, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." The disciples were to be concerned with world evangelism and discipleship.

This Great Commission still applies today since the promise underlying it, the Holy Spirit, the Book of Acts: witness in "Jerusalem" (chapters 1-7), witness throughout "Judea" and "Samaria" (chapters 8-12), and witness to the distant parts of "the Earth (chapters 13-28).

We see (in verse 8 above), why we need to receive power from God. It is not for our own use so that we can brag to someone else; it is to make our witness of Jesus more powerful. We can see here, that the message of the gospel is not just for Israel, but to all nations. We read in Revelation how people of every nationality will be represented in heaven.

Verses 9-11: "While they beheld" suggests several things that are not apparent. Unlike the appearances and disappearances of the former 40 days in which Jesus instantly appeared and vanished, this was a gradual and visible departure.

This was different and final. He would no longer appear to them. His next appearance on earth will be at the Second Coming when He visibly (Rev. 1:7), and bodily sets His feet on Mount Olives (Zech. 14:4).

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

"Taken up" (see note on verse 2). God the Father took Jesus, in His resurrection body, from this world to His rightful place at the Father's right hand (Luke 24:51; Acts 2:33; John 17:1-6). "A cloud": A visible recension. For some of them, this was not the first time they had witnessed divine glory (Mark 9:26); neither will it be the last time clouds accompany Jesus (Mark 13:26; 14:62; see note on Rev. 1:7).

After His resurrection, Christ ascended physically to heaven to reassume His glory and enthronement. He also began His high priestly ministry in heaven for believers which continue until this day.

It is doubtful that the disciples who watched His physical ascension completely understood all that it signified at first.

When the Christian understands the ascension of Christ, he looks forward to His imminent return and appropriates His present ministry as well. First reference (John 16:28, Primary Reference, Acts 1:9; John 17:5).

If there had ever been any question as to who He was, this should answer it. They were looking at Jesus as He rose up into the cloud before their very eyes.

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

"Two men stood by them in white apparel": Two angels in the form of men (Gen. 18:2; Joshua 5:13-15; Mark 16:5).

So many people who read the Bible try to rationalize how Jesus is going to be in our heart and therefore He has already come back. This is not what this Scripture above says. It says that while we are gazing into heaven, someday we will see the clouds open up and we will see Jesus coming in the clouds. These two men in white apparel were angels.

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

"Men of Galilee": All the apostles were from Galilee except for Judas, who had killed himself by this time (verse 18).

"In like manner": Christ one day will return to earth (to the Mt. of Olives), in the same way He ascended (with clouds), to set up His kingdom (Dan. 7:13; Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Rev. 1:7; 14:14).

Steadfastly means that they did not look around, but kept their eyes on Jesus as long as they could see Him.

In (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) we read of Jesus when He comes.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:" "Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Acts Chapter 1 Questions

1. Who wrote the Book of Acts?

2. What earthly occupation did he have?

3. What extended name does most call Acts?

4. What would be a better extension to the name?

5. What is Luke called in Colossians 4:14?

6. In Philemon, what does Paul call Luke?

7. What other Book of the Bible was written by Luke?

8. What does the Book of Acts show about the Christians?

9. Name several things the Book of Acts show us?

10. Who is the Book of Acts addressed to?

11. Jesus taught the disciples until when?

12. How many days did Jesus walk with the apostles after His resurrection?

13. What was possibly the most vivid time Jesus showed Himself to the disciples?

14. What did Jesus command the disciples to do in verse 4?

15. What do we read in John 14 about the Comforter?

16. What is another name for the Comforter?

17. In verse 5, we read that John baptized with what?

18. Give a more vivid explanation from the Scriptures on the baptism of the Holy Ghost?

19. In Matthew 3:11, we find that John baptized with what?

20. What did the disciples ask Jesus if He would now do?

21. What was His reply to them and us?

22. What is the Power of the Holy Ghost for?

23. Where were they to witness?

24. When Jesus had spoken these things, what happened?

25. What received Jesus out of their sight?

26. Who appeared to the disciples as they looked up?

27. What did they tell the disciples?

28. Where can we find a very descriptive explanation of Jesus' return?

Acts Chapter 1 Continued

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

"Mount called Olivet": Located across the Kidron Valley, East of Jerusalem. This large hill rising about 200 foot higher in elevation than the city, was the site from which Jesus ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50-51).

"Sabbath's day journey": One-half of a mile (about 2,000 cubits), was the farthest distance a faithful Jew could travel on the Sabbath to accommodate the prohibition of (Exodus 16:29). This measurement was derived from tradition based on Israel's encampments in the wilderness.

The tents furthest out on the camp's perimeter were 2,000 cubits from the center tabernacle, the longest distance anyone had to walk to reach the tabernacle on the Sabbath (Jos. 3:4; Num. 35:5). One cubit equals 18 inches, or 1.5 feet.

A Sabbath day's journey was about 3,000 feet. This mount here was the Mount of Olives, and Jesus had told them to go to Jerusalem and wait until they would be empowered of the Holy Spirit. This would happen ten days later, fifty days after Jesus rose from the grave.

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

"Upper room": Where the Last Supper may have been celebrated (Mark 14:15), and where Jesus had appeared to the apostles after His resurrection.

"Bartholomew": This disciple is also call Nathanael (John 1:45-49; 21:2).

"James the son of Alphaeus" (see note on Matt. 10:2). The same person as James the younger, also called "the Less" to distinguish him from James, the brother of John (Mark 15:40).

"Zelotes" (see note on Matt. 10:4).

"Judas the brother of James": Was also known as the son of James. The preferred rendering is "the brother of." See note on (Matt. 10:3). He was also known as Thaddaeus (Mark 3:18).

When this speaks of them abiding, it means that they went to the upper room where they had the last supper with Jesus. Whether they slept here or not is uncertain, but surely their waking hours were spent here waiting on the Holy Spirit to come upon them. We will see in the next few verses that they tarried ten days.

The fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will come on them. Fifty means Jubilee and sets the captives free. We will see here that on the fiftieth day these disciples (about 120), men and women will be set free to live and work for the Lord. These disciples, up until this point, had been very weak in their flesh. This will give them power from the Spirit of God to be bold in doing the will of the Lord.

At this point, they will no longer deny the Christ, regardless of the consequence. This Spirit will teach them the will of God, and the ways of God, and set them free to minister with power. Notice in the next verse that, this is not just for the eleven, but for all 120 disciples present. This 120 includes the women as well.

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

"Continued with one accord in prayer": The pattern of praying in the name of Jesus started at this time (John 14:13-14).

"With the women": Doubtless they included Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, the sisters Mary and Martha, and Salome. Some of the apostles' wives also may have been present (1 Cor. 9:5).

"Mary the mother of Jesus" (see notes on Luke 1:27-28). Mary's name does not appear again in the New Testament.

"Brethren": Jesus' half-brothers named (in Mark 6:3), as James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. James was the leader of the Jerusalem church (12:17; 15:13-22), and author of the epistle that bears his name. Judas (Jude), wrote the epistle of Jude.

At this time, they were new believers in Jesus as God, Savior, and Lord, whereas only 8 months earlier John had mentioned their unbelief (John 7:5).

These brethren who included James, Joses, Simon, and Judas from (Matthew 13:55). It seems that Jesus' brothers did not join the original disciples (Psalms 69:8), but after the resurrection of Jesus, were very active followers of Jesus.

These were actually half-brothers of Jesus, because they had the same mother, but Jesus' Father was God. Notice also here that Jesus' mother, Mary, was praying with all the others. She was not the object of worship, but was worshipping God herself.

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

"In those days": Some unspecified time during the believers' 10 days of prayer and fellowship between the ascension and Pentecost.

"Peter" (see note on Matt. 10:2). The acknowledged leader of the apostle took charge.

Names here, means people. Peter was the leader of the group.

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

"Brethren": The 120 believers who were gathered (verse 15).

"This scripture must needs have been fulfilled": The two Old Testament passages Peter quotes (in verse 20, are Psalms 69:25; 109:8). Then God gives prophecies, they will come to pass (Psalm 115:3; Isa. 46:10; 55:11).

"The Holy Ghost" ... by the mouth of David: Scripture contains no clearer description of divine inspiration. God spoke through David's mouth, referring to his writing (see note on 2 Peter 1:21).

For the prophetic statement (see John 13:18-19 and then Psalm 41:9).

We know that the Word of God cannot lie. If it is prophesied, it will happen. God foreknew that Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus and then hang himself. This treachery of Judas' is spoken of again here by Peter, because perhaps, some of this 120 had not been told of Judas' betrayal of Jesus.

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

"Obtained part of this ministry": Judas Iscariot was a member of the 12, but was never truly saved which is why he was called "the son of perdition" (John 17:12; see Matt. 26:24; John 6:64, 70-71; Acts 2:23; Luke 22:22).

Judas Iscariot had been part of the twelve apostles who worked closest with Jesus. Judas in fact, had been the one who carried the money for them.

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

"This man purchased a field": Because the field was bought with the money the Jewish leaders paid Judas to betray Jesus, which he returned to them (Matt. 27:3-10). Luke refers to Judas as if he was the buyer (Zech. 11:12-13).

"Reward of iniquity": The 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas.

"Falling headlong": Apparently, the tree on which Judas chose to hang himself (Matt. 27:5), overlooked a cliff. Likely, the rope or branch broke (or the knot slipped), and his body was shattered on the rocks below.

This verse needs to be correlated with (Matthew 27:3-10). The simplest explanation may be found in the principal that, whereas in Acts, Luke records all events (such as the acts of Judas). Matthew distinguishes between what Judas did and what the priests did.

Just as the priests were the ones who purchased Potter's Field with Judas's money after his death, so Judas may have fallen only in that he was thrown down upon the rocks of that field.

The man Peter is speaking of here is Judas Iscariot. When Judas Iscariot realized the terrible thing that he had done, he threw the thirty pieces of silver (the betrayal money), down, and went and hanged himself. This gruesome description that Peter gives here, is just more detailed about what happened to Judas.

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

"Aceldama (or the Aramaic name is Hakeldama) ... Field of Blood.": This is the field bought by the Jewish leaders. Traditionally, the field is located south of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, where that valley crossed the Kidron Valley. The soil there was good for making pottery, thus Matthew identifies it as "the Potter's Field" (Matt. 27:7, 10; see notes on verse 18).

The money was used to buy a burial place for the poor. The priests could not use it for anything else, because it was blood money.

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

"It is written" (see note on verse 16). Peter used the most compelling proof, Scripture, to reassure the believers that Judas' defection and the choice of his replacement were both in God's purpose (Psalm 55:12-15).

You can find this (in Psalms 69:25 and 109:8). Peter is explaining to this group that the select apostles are now just eleven, and in Psalms it tells them to elect another to make up the twelve. He is to be chosen of the 120.

The number twelve is a representative number, and we will see it repeatedly throughout the Bible, and especially in Revelation. The twelve apostles are mentioned several times. The twelve would include the original eleven and the one chosen to take Judas Iscariot's place.

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

"Went in and out among us": The first requirement for Judas' successor was that he had participated in Jesus' earthly ministry.

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

"Baptism of John": Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23).

"A witness with us of his resurrection": A second requirement for Judas' successor was that he had to have seen the resurrected Christ. The resurrection was central to apostolic preaching (2:24, 32; 3:15; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37).

We see from this, that the person chosen to take the bishopric of Judas Iscariot must be chosen from one of the disciples who had been in the group since the day John the Baptist baptized Jesus. He must also, be one who stayed steadfast with the followers of Jesus until the day Jesus was caught up into heaven.

In other words, he must be able (when he is witnessing), to give first-hand information. He had to be an eye witness.

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

"Barsabas ... Justus": Barsabas means "son of the Sabbath." Justus ("the righteous") was Joseph's Latin name. Many Jews in the Roman Empire had equivalent Gentile names.

"Matthias": The name means "gift of God." The ancient historian Eusebius claims Matthias was among the 70 of (Luke 10:1).

From the above qualifications, Peter and the other ten decided that these two men fit those qualifications.

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

"Thou hast chosen": Judas' successor was sovereignly determined (see notes on verse 20).

The final decision would be the Lord's. Many times, we humans tend to judge a person by their outward appearance, but the Lord always looks on the heart. Peter is aware of this and prays that the Lord will make the final decision.

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

"To his own place": Judas chose his own fate of hell by rejecting Christ. It is not unfair to say that Judas and all others who go to hell belong there (John 6:70).

Judas Iscariot was of his father the devil. His place would be in hell with his father. We all have a will of our own, and Judas was no different. Notice, he fell. Judas Iscariot could have been in heaven with all the rest of the apostles, but he fell because of his lust for money.

His place with the apostles will be filled by a more noble man.

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

"Gave forth their lots": A common Old Testament method of determining God's will (Lev. 16:8-10; Jos. 7:14; Prov. 18:18; see note on Prov. 16:33). This is the last biblical mention of lots, the coming of the Spirit made them unnecessary.

Prior to Pentecost the casting of "lots" was a divinely approved method of discerning God's will (Joshua 18:8). Proverbs 16:33), states: "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." Nowhere else in Acts is there any record of a New Testament church using lots. The Holy Spirit now provides that direction (16:6-7; Rom. 8:14, 26-27; Gal. 5:18).

Many decisions of this nature in the church were decided by casting lots. Their belief was that God would cause the lot to fall to the more worthy one. Now with Matthias added to the eleven, the twelve apostles were complete again.

Acts Chapter 1 Continued Questions

1. How far is the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem?

2. How far is a Sabbath day's journey?

3. When would the Holy Spirit come upon them?

4. Where did these disciples go to wait?

5. Who went?

6. What does abiding mean?

7. How long did they wait?

8. Why do they need the Holy Spirit?

9. What does verse 14 tell us they did while they waited?

10. Who are explicitly mentioned in verse 11, besides the eleven apostles?

11. Name Jesus' four half-brothers.

12. What must we note about Mary in verse 14?

13. Who was the eleven's leader?

14. How many disciples were actually there?

15. Who had prophesied in the Old Testament about Judas Iscariot?

16. What happened to Judas Iscariot after the betrayal?

17. What was the proper name of the potter's field?

18. What did it mean?

19. How much was the betrayal money?

20. What Book in the Old Testament tells of this?

21. What must the qualifications be of the man to replace Judas Iscariot?

22. Who were the two appointed?

23. When they cast lots, who won the office?

24. Who made the final decision?

25. Who was Judas Iscariot's father?

26. Did Judas have a choice?

27. What caused Judas to fall?

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Acts 2

Acts Chapter 2

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

"Day of Pentecost": Pentecost means fiftieth" and refers to the feast of weeks (Exodus 34:22-23), or Harvest (Lev. 23:16), which was celebrated 50 days after Passover in May/June (Lev. 23:15-22). It was one of 3 annual feasts for which the nation was to come to Jerusalem (see note on Exodus 23:14-19).

At Pentecost, an offering of firstfruits was made (Lev. 23:20). The Holy Spirit came on this day as the firstfruits of the believer's inheritance (2 Cor. 45:5; Eph. 1:11, 14). Those gathered into the church then were also the firstfruits of the full harvest of all believers to come after.

"In one place": The upper room mentioned (in 1:13).

Before "Pentecost" the Holy Spirit's work had been:

(1) From without ("Spirit came upon");

(2) Temporary; and

(3) Exceptional.

After Pentecost, the Spirit's work is:

(1) From within He indwells (John 7:37-39; 14:17; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 John 3:24; 4:13);

(2) Permanent (Rom. 8:9); and

(3) Normal, involving all (1 Cor. 12:12).

Under the Old (Mosaic Covenant), God's work with Israel had been external, but under the New Covenant it is internal (Ezek. 36:26-27; Heb. 8:9-10).

Pentecost means fifty. In (Exodus 23:16), we find that this time is one of the three most important feasts or festivals of the Hebrews. The other two are Passover and Tabernacles. This festival (Pentecost), is also called the Feast of Weeks. It is called this, because it is celebrated seven weeks after Passover, or actually fifty days.

It was also called the Feast of Harvest and the day of First Fruits. The first loaves of the new grain are offered on the altar on this day. The time this feast is to be celebrated is the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, with the Hebrews, it was the fiftieth day after the Sunday of Passover. We will find that God is exact. Notice the harmony of the 120 here (they were in one accord).

Pentecost can also, be thought of as Jubilee. On Jubilee, the fiftieth year, the captives were to be set free. These things are symbolized in the day of Pentecost. These disciples would be set free to minister for God. As we said in a previous lesson, their old fears and doubts would all be gone. This would be an assurance of their standing with God.

Verses 2-3: On the Day of Pentecost God provided two symbols of the Spirit's presence. The "wind," which was associated by the Jews with the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:9-14; John 3:8), and the fiery "tongues", which divided and rested "upon each" one, showing that the Spirit's baptism included all.

The purpose here for the sign gift of tongues was not to make possible the hearing of the gospel but to seize the attention of all, so they would listen. The hearers were not pilgrims, but foreign-born inhabitants (verse 8). They were not merely visiting, but living in Jerusalem (verses 5-14).

Only those from Rome are identified as visitors (verse 10). Also, when the gospel is preached, Peter speaks to them all in one language.

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

"A sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind": Luke's simile described God's action of sending the Holy Spirit. Wind is frequently used in Scripture as a picture of the Spirit (Ezek. 37:9-10; John 3:8).

The disciples were probably gathered in this home for prayer. This was probably in the upper room where Jesus had eaten the Last Supper with the disciples. It was probably near the time for the Morning Prayer, perhaps around 9 a.m. in the morning.

This mighty wind filled the house (not the temple). This is probably the way the churches got started, with these home meetings. The wind is symbolic of the Spirit.

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

The disciples could not comprehend the significance of the Spirit's arrival without the Lord sovereignly illustrating what was occurring with a visible phenomenon.'

"Tongues like as of fire": Just as the sound, like wind was symbolic, these were not literal flames of fire but supernatural indicators, like fire, that God had sent the Holy Spirit upon each believer. In Scripture, fire often denoted the divine presence (Exodus 3:2-6).

God's use of a fire-like appearance here parallels what He did with the dove when Jesus was baptized (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).

These cloven tongues were like a fire. When each of the 120 people in attendance, men and women, were touched by a tongue of fire, the Spirit of God came upon them. Notice here, that it sat on each of them. This is not a collective happening. It happened to each of them individually.

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

"All": The apostles and the 120 (Joel 2:28-32).

"Filled with the Holy Ghost": In contrast to the baptism with the Spirit, which is the one-time act by which God places believers into His body (see notes on 1 Cor. 12:13), the filling is a repeated reality of Spirit-controlled behavior that God commands believers to maintain (see notes on Ephesians 5:18).

Peter and many others in Acts 2 were filled with the Spirit (e.g., 4:8, 31; 6:5; 7:55), and so often spoke boldly the Word of God. The fullness of the Spirit affects all areas of life, not just speaking boldly (Eph. 5:19-33).

"With other tongues": Known languages (see notes on verse 6; 1 Cor. 14:1-25), not ecstatic utterances. These languages given by the Spirit were a sign of judgment to unbelieving Israel (see notes on 1 Cor. 14:21-22).

They also showed that from then on God's people would come from all nations, and marked the transition from Israel to the church. Tongues' speaking occurs only twice more in Acts (10:46; 19:6).

Though verse 4 mentions only the filling with the Spirit, both the filling and the baptism occurred. Christ promised that the baptism would occur (1:4-5), and Peter later affirms that it did happen at Pentecost (11:15-16). The filling and baptism are two different works performed by the Holy "Spirit."

Note their contrasts:

(1) Following Pentecost every believer receives the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13); hence the New Testament never commands the Christian to receive it.

(2) The baptism is permanent, happening but once for all.

The filling is ongoing, occurring continuously as seen in the present tense imperative of Ephesians 5:18, that is, "Keep on being filled." The verse commands: "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess [riotousness]; but be filled with the Spirit."

Since Paul compares the influences of wine and the filling of the Spirit, the word control can aptly express the idea of either. The filling of the Spirit is the controlling influence of the Spirit within the believer. Such control is neither universal nor unending, thus it must be commanded and does recur within the believers (4:8, 31). Peter and others had been previously filled on Pentecost, verse 4).

The adjective "full" expresses the abiding character of a Spirit-filled man (6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24), but the participle form "filled" (used in 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9), expresses an action performed at that moment. The baptism is the act by which Jesus, through the Spirit, at conversion brings the believer into relation with himself and makes the believer a part of God's people, the church.

The filling is the continuous experience within the Christian whereby the Spirit, who already indwells him, keeps control over his life.

There is a lot of confusion today about the Holy Ghost baptism. May I say right here, that you cannot be taught to receive the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is received by the Spirit of God coming on an individual. This is a gift from God to an individual. The purpose of this is so the individual receiving this gift can be a more effective witness for God.

This is the baptism that John the Baptist was speaking of, when he said that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. Not all tongue speaking is of God. Satan is a counterfeiter, and we must be sure the tongue we receive is of God. The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost will not enter into an unclean vessel.

Notice that these 120 people were praying, and had been praying and in one accord, for ten days when this happened. I say again, this not something you learn, it is a gift from God to those who God has called to minister. Another thing that is greatly misunderstood, it is not an unknown tongue, as you will see in the next few verses. It is a language the person receiving has never learned to speak.

You will notice that the tongue they were speaking in was a language of another country. Language that perhaps was unknown to the person receiving it but easily understood by someone who knew the language. Notice where the utterance came from; (the Holy Spirit).

Spirit is capitalized, meaning the Holy Spirit. When you repeat a language after someone else, you have learned a language. You must not learn to speak in tongues. You must receive the gift of the Holy Spirit from God alone. The things of the Spirit cannot be learned. They must be received.

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

"Jews, devout men": Hebrew males who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They were expected to celebrate Pentecost (see note on verse 1), in Jerusalem, as part of observing the Jewish religious calendar (see note on Exodus 23:14-19).

Notice that these devout Jews were from many nations. They had different native languages.

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

"This was noised": The noise like gusty wind (verse 2), not the sound of the various languages.

"Speak in his own language": As the believers were speaking, each pilgrim in the crowd recognized the language or dialect from his own country.

This verse 6 seems to be at a later time, because this says when it was noised abroad. Now here, you can easily see that this is not an unknown language at all. This was individuals speaking in a language not their own language.

Whoever the baptized person witnessed to, that person heard it in their own language.

Acts 2:7 "And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?"

"Galileans": Inhabitants of the mostly rural area of northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee. Galilean Jews spoke with a distinct regional accent and were considered to be unsophisticated and uneducated by the southern Judean Jews. When Galileans were seen to be speaking so many different languages, the Judean Jews were astonished.

The strange thing to these people was that Galileans were speaking in languages not native to their own tongue, but to the tongue of the people who were listening. This amazed them; because they expected to hear the Galileans speak in their own tongue. These 120 received their gift of the Holy Ghost in the upper room, but, I believe, those hearing them speak were on the streets.

I believe, if God calls you to minister in Mexico, then the foreign language you would get would be Spanish. The purpose, as I have said before, of the Holy Spirit baptism is to equip you to better minister God's word to the people He has called you to minister to.

Verses 9-11: The listing of specific countries and ethnic groups proves again that these utterances were known human languages.

Acts 2:8-9 "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,"

"Parthians": They lived in what is modern Iran.

"Meads": In Daniel's time, they ruled with the Persians, but had settled in Parthia.

"Elamites": They were from the southwestern part of the Parthian Empire.

"Mesopotamia": This means "between the rivers" (the Tigris and Euphrates). Many Jews still lived there, descendants of those who were in captivity and who never returned to the land of Israel (2 Chron. 36:22-23).

"Judea": All the region once controlled by David and Solomon, including Syria.

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

"Egypt": Many Jews lived there, especially in the city of Alexandria. The nation then covered the same general area as modern Egypt.

"Libya about Cyrene": These districts were west of Egypt, along the North African coast.

"Rome": The capital of the Empire had a sizeable Jewish population, dating from the second century B.C.

"Proselytes": Gentile converts to Judaism. Jews in Rome were especially active in seeking such converts.

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

"Cretes": Residents of the island of Crete, off the southern coast of Greece.

"Arabians": Jews who lived south of Damascus, among the Nabatean Arabs (Gal. 1:17).

"We do hear them speak" (see note on verse 6).

"Wonderful works of God": The Christians were quoting from the Old Testament what God had done for His people (Exodus 15:11; Psalms 40:5, 77:11; 96:3; 107:21). Such praises were often heard in Jerusalem during festival times.

This is just an extended explanation of all the different languages these Galileans spoke on that day. This message of the wonderful works of God is not just for one nation, but for all. These who spoke in languages foreign to their own were not speaking to these people; but were rather letting God speak to these people through them.

Even a minister speaking in English to an English-speaking congregation will have a much more effective message, if God speaks through him as the Spirit gives him utterance.

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

It is amazing every time that God speaks. Can you believe that they would doubt? They should have known for sure that this was a miracle of God.

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

"New Wine": A drink that could have made one drunk.

These who doubted are like many today, who will not believe anything that they have not experienced. They want to believe only things that they have seen with their own eyes. If you have seen something with your natural eye, it takes no faith to believe it. Fact is not faith.

Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

New wine would make you so drunk that you would not be able to even speak in your own native tongue, much less speak in a foreign language.

Verses 14-40: After the Holy Spirit's arrival, the first major event of church history was Peter's sermon, which led to 3,000 conversions and established the church (verses 41-47).

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

"With the eleven": This number of the apostles included the newly-appointed Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot (see notes on 1:23-24).

Peter was the authority of this body of believers. Peter stood, and in a grave voice told them, how ridiculous it was to make such a rash statement about this gift of God.

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

"The third hour": Calculated in Jewish fashion from sunrise, this was 9:00 a.m.

The third hour of the day was a time of prayer. Peter was possibly speaking this in the court of the Gentiles where all were allowed to come.

Verses 16-21: Peter does not say that Pentecost is the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy concerning the last days (Rev. 6:12). Peter does not see a celestial cataclysm (verses 19-20), yet it is that of which "Joel" speaks, because it is the beginning of that fulfillment.

Peter did not see the "Spirit" coming upon all people, but he did see Him coming upon 120. It was the beginning, but surely not the complete fulfillment. Peter understood, as we should, that the "last days" had already begun, even with the birth of Christ (Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20).

Joel's prophecy will not be completely fulfilled until the millennial kingdom. But Peter, by using it, shows that Pentecost was a pre-fulfillment, a taste of what will happen in the millennial kingdom when the Spirit is poured out on all flesh (10:45).

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

This leaves no doubt that this is a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy in Joel 2:28-29.

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

"Last days": This phrase refers to the present era of redemptive history from the first coming of Christ (Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 2:18), to His return.

"My Spirit" (see notes on 1:2, 5, and 8).

"All flesh": This indicates all people will receive the Holy Spirit, because everyone who enters the millennial kingdom will be redeemed (Matt. 24:29-25:46; Rev. 20:4-6).

"Visions ... dreams": Dreams (Gen. 20:3; Dan. 7:1), and visions (Gen. 15:1; Rev. 9:17), were some of God's most memorable means of revelation since they were pictorial in nature. While they were not limited to believers (e.g. Abimelech, Gen. 20:3 and Pharaoh, Gen. 41:1-8), they were primarily reserved for prophets and apostles (Num. 12:6).

While frequent in the Old Testament, they were rare in the New Testament. In Acts, most of God's visions were associated with either Peter's (chapters 10 and 11), or Paul's (chapters 9, 18; 2 Cor. 12:1). Most frequently they were used to reveal apocalyptic imagery (Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation).

They were not considered normal in biblical times; nor should they be so now. The time will come however, when God will use visions and dreams during the Tribulation period (as predicted by Joel 2:28-32).

One of the characteristics of the future reign of Christ is the abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter recognized that the outpouring anticipated an even greater outpouring yet to come (verse 17).

The frequent outpourings of the Holy Spirit in this age are the source of the great spiritual revivals and spiritual awakenings. Because of the great blessings received in times of revival, Christians have often used descriptions from the future kingdom age to describe their experiences (3:19).

While the believer looks forward to the coming kingdom of Christ, he may also pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival today (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Gal. 5:22).

We are certainly living in the last days, so we know this is for now, as well as the day of Pentecost. This word prophesy can be translated so many ways, one of which means to preach. In the Spirit, there is no difference between a male and female. The flesh is the only difference. God is not the one who makes a difference between men and women. God is not interested in the flesh.

Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

If the old men won't do it, then He will send a young man. God also sends women, old and young, to bring in the harvest.

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

"Prophesy": The proclamation of God's truth will be pervasive in the millennial kingdom.

This Holy Spirit of God fell on all the 120, male and female, and empowered them to be ministers of God. God's purpose is to get as many people as will come, into the kingdom of God.

Acts Chapter 2 Questions

1. What was the state of the 120 on the day of Pentecost?

2. What does Pentecost mean?

3. In Exodus 23:16, we find that there are how many important feasts of the Hebrews?

4. Name them.

5. What are two other names for Pentecost?

6. What day after Jesus' resurrection was Pentecost?

7. What was Jubilee?

8. What would this do for the believers?

9. What did it sound like?

10. Where were the 120 when this happened?

11. What generally happened at 9 a.m.?

12. What did these believers see?

13. How many of them were filled with the Holy Ghost?

14. What outward expression came with the Holy Ghost?

15. How is the Holy Ghost received?

16. What is the purpose of the Holy Ghost?

17. Who had spoken of this baptism of the Holy Ghost earlier?

18. Have all who speak in tongues been baptized of God? Explain.

19. It is not really an unknown tongue, but what?

20. Why were the people confounded about this?

21. What were all who spoke?

22. Name some of the countries these listeners were from.

23. What did they speak in tongues?

24. What did some mockers say?

25. What is faith?

26. What was so ridiculous about them saying they were full of new wine?

27. Who spoke out for the disciples?

28. What time of day was it?

29. What did the disciples usually do at this time?

30. What did Peter tell them this was?

31. In what days was this prophesied to happen?

32. What were the young men prophesied to do?

33. What were the old men prophesied to do?

34. Who will God pour out His Spirit on?

35. In Galatians 3:28, we read what about male and female?

36. Who will preach and bring people into the kingdom?

Acts Chapter 2 Continued

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

"Wonders ... signs" (4:30; 5:12; 14:3; 15:12). "Wonders" is the amazement people experience when witnessing supernatural works (miracles). "Signs" point to the power of God behind miracles, marvels have no value unless they point to God and His truth.

Such works were often done by the Holy Spirit through the apostles (5:12-16), and their associates (6:8), to authenticate them as the messengers of God's truth. (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4).

"Blood ... fire ... vapor of smoke": These phenomena are all connected with events surrounding Christ's second coming and signal the establishment of the earthly kingdom: Blood (Rev. 6:8; 8:7-8; 9:15; 14:20; 16:3); fire (Rev. 8:5, 7-8, 10); and smoke (Rev. 9:2-3, 17-18; 18:9, 18).

Verse 19 speaks of the end of the Gentile age. Verse 17 and 18, in the previous lesson, has two fulfillments, one on the day of Pentecost, and the other at the end of the age. You can read more about this time (in Matthew chapter 24).

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

"Sun ... darkness ... moon into blood" (Matt. 24:29-30; see note on Rev. 6:12).

"Day of the Lord" (see note on 1 Thess. 5:2). This Day of the Lord will come with the return of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:2; Rev. 19:11-15).

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

"Whosoever shall call": Up to that hour of judgment and wrath, any who turn to Christ as Lord and Savior will be saved (see notes on Romans 10:10-13).

This is a tremendous promise. This promise is offered to whosoever will. This is just saying, if we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we will be saved. Terror will grip those who see the moon and sun turn like this. Even at that late date, if they call on Jesus as Savior and Lord, He will save them.

Verses 22-36: Here is the main body of Peter's sermon, in which he presented and defended Jesus Christ as Israel's Messiah.

The main point of Peter's sermon is to prove that "Jesus" is both God and the Messiah (verse 36). Peter seeks to prove this through Christ's miraculous works (verse 22), His resurrection (verses 23-32), and His sending of the Holy Spirit (verses 33-35).

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

"Jesus of Nazareth": The humble name that often identified the Lord during His earthly ministry (Matt. 21:11; Mark 10:47; Luke 24:19; John 18:5).

"Approved ... by miracles and wonders and signs": By a variety of supernatural means and works, God validated Jesus as the Messiah (Matt. 11:1-16; Luke 7:20-23; John 3:2; 5:17-20; 8:28; Phil. 2:9; see notes on 1:3; 2:19).

This is a very bold speech that Peter is making to these people. The boldness of Peter speaking out now, is a total contrast from the three times he denied Christ. Peter has now been baptized in the Holy Ghost and knows no fear. Peter is saying that Jesus proved who He was by the signs, wonders, and miracles that He did.

Peter reminds them that these things were not done in secret, but right before their very eyes. They were without excuse, because they knew, and still refused to believe Jesus was the Christ.

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

"By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God": From eternity past (2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8), God predetermined that Jesus would die an atoning death as part of His pre-ordained plan (4:27-28; 13:27-29).

"By wicked hands": An indictment against "men of Israel" (verse 22), those unbelieving Jews who instigated Jesus' death, which was carried out by the Romans. That the crucifixion was predetermined by God does not absolve the guilt of those who caused it.

Peter is giving no slack at all. He is telling them that they had a great part in the crucifixion of Jesus. Even though God foreknew that this would happen, it still does not leave them innocent.

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

"Not possible": Because of His divine power (John 11:25; Heb. 2:14) and God's promise and purpose (Luke 24:46; John 2:18-22; 1 Cor. 15:16-26), death could not keep Jesus in the grave.

The main enemy that Jesus defeated on the cross was death itself. Those who believe on His name will inherit eternal life, not death. The Spirit of Jesus never died. Only His body died. Jesus was victorious on the cross and defeated sin and death for all who believe on His name.

The third day Jesus arose from the grave. (Psalms 16:10), explains that Jesus would not remain in Sheol. Jesus went to Sheol (or hades, the abode of the dead) and took the keys away from Satan. He preached there and brought those captives out with Him. Read it in (1 Peter 3:19 and Ephesians 4:8-10).

Verses 25-28: "David speaketh": The Lord was speaking of His resurrection prophetically through David (see note on Psalm 16:10).

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

Jesus is seated, even now, at the right hand of the Father. Jesus (God the Word), is omnipresent, which means that He can be in more than one place at a time. Jesus not only sits at the right hand of the Father, but is the right hand of the Father.

Jesus has never lost His position in heaven. Jesus can be in my heart and at the right hand of the Father all at the same time.

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

Jesus' flesh was entombed, but it did not stay in the tomb long enough to begin to decay. The body begins to deteriorate on the fourth day. Jesus rose on the third day. In (1 Thessalonians chapter 4), we read that we Christians have hope of the resurrection, because Jesus rose again.

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

"Hell" is the word hades and does not refer to the eternal lake of fire but to the intermediate state of the Old Testament dead. In the New Testament, the term also refers to the grave. Peter states that David's words of (Psalm 16:10), are a prophecy concerning the immediate resurrection of the Messiah, of whom David is a type.

"Hades" (see the note on Luke 16:23). The New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament grave or "Sheol." Though sometimes it identifies hell (Matt. 11:23), here it refers to the general place of the dead.

As we said above, Jesus' body rose from the tomb before the fourth day when corruption usually sets in.

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

Jesus' body was transformed into a spiritual body. This same Jesus re-entered His body and rose from the tomb. We can look to Jesus for our hope. He is the life. We can have joy forevermore knowing that because He lives we will live also. It was buried a natural body and raised a spiritual body (1 Corinthians chapter 15).

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

"His sepulcher is with us unto this day": A reminder to the Jews that David's body had never been raised, so he could not be the fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 16.

Peter makes it very clear that this could not have been David speaking, since he was dead and his tomb still held his body.

Verses 30-32: Peter exposits the meaning of Psalm 16 as referring not to David, but to Jesus Christ. He would be raised to reign (verse 30; Psalms 2:1-9; 89:3).

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

"Therefore being a prophet": Peter quoted (Psalm 132:11). As God's spokesman, David knew that God would keep His oath (2 Sam. 7:11-16), and Christ would come.

God had promised David that through his ancestors in the flesh, the Messiah (Christ), would sit on his throne in Jerusalem. God does not lie. Jesus Christ the Messiah was descended in the flesh from David. David had prophesied this after God had sworn to him.

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

David had prophesied (in Psalms 16:10), that Jesus' body would not decay. That He would rise again. Here Peter quotes that Psalm.

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

"God raised up" (verse 24; 10:40; 17:31; 1 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 1:20). That he did so attests to His approval of Christ's work on the cross.

"We all are witnesses": The early preachers preached the resurrection (3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33-34, 37; 17:31).

Here, Peter says that this Scripture in Psalms was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the grave. Peter tells these people that He was an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus. He tells them they had witnessed it also. Jesus was seen of over 500 people after He rose from the grave.

1 Corinthians 15:6 "After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."

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

After Jesus was risen and ascended, God's promise to send the Holy Spirit was fulfilled (John 7:39; Gal. 3:14), and manifest that day.

"By the right hand of God exalted" (see note on 7:55).

In our study in John, we learned that Jesus said He would send the Comforter (Holy Ghost; John 14:15-16). Now Peter is telling them that this which they have seen is the Holy Ghost sent by Jesus to help Jesus' followers.

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

"The Lord said unto my Lord": Peter quoted another Psalm (Psalm 110:1), concerning the exaltation of Messiah by ascension to the right hand of God, and reminds the reader that it was not fulfilled by David (as bodily resurrection had not yet been; see note on verse 29). But by Jesus Christ (verse 36). Peter had been an eyewitness to that ascension (1:9-11).

This again, was prophecy of King David. David calls his descendent in the flesh Jesus, Lord. It is difficult to understand that the flesh of Jesus descended from David, but at the same time the Spirit of Jesus was David's Lord. This just means that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, until God the Father says the struggle on earth is over.

Acts 2:35 "Until I make thy foes thy footstool."

We find that all power in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus by the Father. Jesus defeated Satan in every way at the cross. Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God waiting, because Jesus' work on earth is done. The end of the age is near. This will all finish when the bride of Christ is brought to heaven and the wrath of God falls on those who would not accept Jesus as Lord.

Acts Chapter 2 Continued Questions

1. What are some of the signs mentioned in verse 19?

2. What time is this speaking of?

3. What will happen to the sun at this time?

4. Who will be saved?

5. Who does Peter call Jesus in verse 21?

6. Why should they have known who Jesus was?

7. What is different with Peter's preaching here, from when he denied Christ?

8. Who raised Jesus up?

9. What message is in Psalms 16:10?

10. Where can we read about Jesus preaching in hell and bringing the captives out?

11. Who was David speaking of in verse 25?

12. When does the body begin to deteriorate after death?

13. What does 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 bring promise of?

14. How was Jesus' body changed from the one that went into the tomb?

15. Who was Jesus' ancestor in the flesh?

16. In what was Jesus David's God?

17. What is David called in verse 30?

18. What chapter in Psalms tells that Jesus' body would not decay?

19. In verse 32, Peter says who were witnesses of Jesus' resurrection?

20. Where is Jesus exalted now?

21. Who sent the comforter (Holy Ghost)?

22. What other Book of the Bible tells that Jesus would send the Comforter?

23. How long will Jesus sit at the right hand of God?

24. Who is all power in heaven and earth given to?

25. What is left for Jesus to do, to be finished with His work?

Acts Chapter 2 Second Continued

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

Peter summarizes his sermon with a powerful statement of certainty: The Old Testament prophecies of resurrection and exaltation provide evidence that overwhelmingly points to the crucified Jesus as the Messiah.

"Both Lord and Christ": Jesus is God as well as anointed Messiah (Romans 1:4; 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:9, 11).

Peter has boldly told these Israelites that they crucified their Messiah (Christ). He says you crucified Messiah, and God has exalted Him to be not only your Savior, but your Lord.

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

"Pricked in their heart": The Greek word here means "stab," and thus denotes something sudden and unexpected In grief, remorse, and intense spiritual conviction. Peter's listeners were stunned by his indictment that they had killed their Messiah.

We must remember that Peter had been entrusted with the keys. He was the leader of the church for both Jew and Gentile. Peter has brought them a message that they know is true. Their hearts are turned, and they seek instruction from Peter about what they must do to be saved. They realize they have made a grave mistake and, now, they want to get into good graces with God.

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

"Repent": This refers to a change of mind and purpose that turns an individual from sin to God (1 Thess. 1:9). Such change involves more than fearing the consequences of God's judgment.

Genuine repentance knows that the evil of sin must be forsaken and the person and work of Christ totally and singularly embraced. Peter exhorted his hearers to repent, otherwise they would not experience true conversion (see note on Matt. 3:2; Acts 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Matt. 4:17).

"Be baptized": This Greek word literally means "be dipped or immersed" in water. Peter was obeying Christ's command from Matt. 28:19 and urging the people who repented and turned to the Lord Christ for salvation to identify, through the waters of baptism, with His death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 19:5; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; see notes on Matt. 3:2).

This is the first time the apostles' publicly enjoined people to obey that ceremony. Prior to this, many Jews had experience the baptism of John the Baptist, (see notes on Matt. 3:1-3) and were also familiar with the baptism of Gentile converts to Judaism (proselytes).

"In the name of Jesus Christ": For the new believer, it was a crucial but costly identification to accept.

"For the remission of sins": This might better be translated "because of the forgiveness of sins". Baptism does not produce forgiveness and cleansing from sin. See notes on 1 Pet. 3:20-21. The reality of forgiveness precedes the rite of baptism (verse 41). Genuine repentance brings from God the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7), and because of that the new believer was to be baptized.

Baptism, however, was to be the ever-present act of obedience, so that it became synonymous with salvation. Thus to say one was baptized for forgiveness was the same as saying one was saved, see note on "one baptism" in Eph. 4:5. Every believer enjoys the complete forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28; Luke 24:47; Eph. 1:7; Col. 2:13; 1 John 2:12).

"The gift of the Holy Ghost": See notes on 1:5, 8.

Here, as throughout Scripture, one aspect of conversion is commonly used to represent all aspects: believing and calling as well as repenting. The grammatical name for allowing part of something to represent the whole is called synecdoche.

Repentance is something every person must do (17:30). For several reasons "be baptized" should not be joined with "for the remission of sins" to teach baptismal regeneration. First, the context of this passage demonstrates that only the repentance is connected with the removal of sin at salvation: "Whosoever shall call ... shall be saved" (verse 21).

Peter's next recorded sermon states only "Repent ... that you sins may be blotted out" (3:19). Second, throughout Acts men demonstrate their faith and salvation prior to baptism (10:43-47). Third, the soteriological passages throughout the New Testament do not include water baptism in the salvation experience - John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 4:10; Eph. 2:1-10; 1 Pet. 1:18-19.

Thus this verse more clearly reads, "Repent for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift which is the Holy Spirit; and let each of you be baptized in the name of Christ." Though water baptism does not save or wash away our sins, it is a command that needs to be obeyed speedily after conversion. Jesus commanded it (Matt. 28:19-20), as does Peter here. This is the consistent pattern throughout Acts (16:31-34; 18:8).

These men Peter was speaking to here were the house of Israel. They had rejected Jesus as their Messiah. They must repent of this rejection of Jesus as the substitute for their sin. The one they had rejected is the very one they are to be baptized in the name of. These are all Jews here. They must repent of rejecting Jesus. They had the law; the Gentiles did not have the law to go by.

Notice the gift of the Holy Ghost would come after they had repented and been baptized. The part of those who want to be saved is to repent of their sin, and then believe on the name of Jesus Christ. Just as Abraham was justified (just as if he had never sinned) by faith they will be justified by faith in Jesus Christ. We read earlier how God will save all who call on His name.

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

The promise is made to whosoever will. See note on 1:4.

"All that are afar off": Gentiles, who would also share in the blessings of salvation (Eph. 2:11-13). Gentiles of all generations, since the Jews are thought of as those who are nigh. The Lord Jesus died for all, but our obligation is to accept the gift of salvation. God calls all of us, but few accept that call.

"As many as the Lord our God shall call": Salvation is ultimately from the Lord. See note on Rom. 3:24.

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

"Untoward" means "morally crooked" or "perverse."

We see that this group that Peter is speaking to is the very group who turned Jesus down. This says that Peter kept on speaking to them to make them understand their need for Jesus as Savior.

Verses 41-42: The pattern set here for new believers is normative throughout this age. They publicly profess their faith through baptism and join in fellowship, edification, and service within the assembly of God's people.

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

"They that gladly received his word were baptized": See note on verse 38.

"Three thousand": Luke's use of a specific number suggests records were kept of conversions and baptisms (see note on verse 38). Archeological work on the south side of the temple mount has uncovered numerous Jewish mikvahs, large baptistery-like facilities where Jewish worshipers would immerse themselves in ritual purification before entering the temple.

More than enough existed to facilitate the larger number of baptisms in a short amount of time.

1 Corinthians 1:21 we read, "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." We see from this, that this is God's plan to save people. They received the sermon Peter preached and were saved and baptized. This was a very effective sermon because 3,000 souls were saved.

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

"Apostles' Doctrine": The word doctrine derives from the Latin term for teaching and refers to the content that was taught in the New Testament. The proper teaching of Scripture was called "the apostles' doctrine," meaning that which the apostles taught.

The foundational content for the believer's spiritual growth and maturity was the Scripture, God's revealed truth, which the apostles received (see notes on John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13) and taught faithfully. See notes on 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:1-2, 16.

"Fellowship": Literally "partnership," or "sharing." Because Christians become partners with Jesus Christ and all other believers (1 John 1:3), it is their spiritual duty to stimulate one another to righteousness and obedience (Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 15:5; Gal 5:13; Eph. 4:2, 25; 5:21; Col. 3:9; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 3:13; 10:24-25; 1 Pet. 4:9-10).

"Breaking of bread": A reference to the Lord's Table, or Communion, which is mandatory for all Christians to observe (1 Cor. 11:24-29).

"Prayers": Of individual believers and the church corporately (see 1:14, 24; 4:24-31; John 14:13-14).

This contrasted with erroneous teaching called "doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1), meaning that teaching whose source is not God but the messengers of Satan, whose desire it is to substitute false religion for Christianity (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

The apostles' doctrine was true, not because an apostle taught it, but because it was consistent with the Scriptures. The Bereans examined the teaching of Paul in light of the Scriptures before accepting it (17:11). Also, the church at Ephesus examined some who called themselves apostles and found them liars (Rev. 2:2). A Christian should attempt to understand and believe true doctrine, while rejecting all that disagrees with the Word of God (1 John 4:1), Acts 2:42.

"Church Discipline": One of the first religious exercises of the New Testament church after Pentecost was persevering in the apostles' doctrine. Doctrinal purity was essential to a New Testament church. The local churches placed themselves under God's authority by accepting the discipline of the Word of God. The proclamation of the Scriptures became a positive discipline, developing correct beliefs and life-style.

When Christians need to be confronted and rebuked for sin or false belief, either individually or corporately, negative discipline will correct the error and bring the church back to its biblical role. When an assembly of people removes itself from the authority of Scripture, that assembly ceases to be a New Testament church.

Although the church at Sardis had quite a reputation in its community, Jesus viewed it as having already died (Rev. 3:1). All Christians should carefully evaluate the beliefs and practices of a church by the standard of God's Word. Then they should associate with and support the one that meets the New Testament standards. Matt. 18:17; Acts 2:42; Matt. 28:19.

It seems that the apostles were establishing a doctrine. The Lord really did not set up a doctrine for the church. Jesus' commandments were to love God above everything and everyone else, and love your neighbor as yourself.

This breaking of bread could have been the taking of communion in remembrance of Jesus, or it could just mean that they ate together. We do know that it had something to do with worship, because they continued in prayer.

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

"Wonders and signs": See note on verse 19. In the New Testament, the ability to perform miracles was limited to the apostles and their close colleagues (e.g. Philip in 8:13; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4). These produced awe and respect for divine power.

This fear has to do with reverence. This fear brings them to the point of making a decision about the Lord. In the 14th chapter of John beginning with the 12th verse, we see that Jesus gave His followers the power to do the same miracles that He had done while He was on the earth if they prayed in Jesus' name. This would be astonishing to these Jews who had not seen this type of miracles going on in the temple.

Verses 44-45: Communal sharing was practiced for a brief time by the early church but not throughout Acts. These believers were expecting the very soon return of Christ (as Peter demonstrates in his sermons of chapters 2 and 3), and they therefore sold their possessions.

This did not last. Such communal life is not taught by the apostles. Rather we are taught to be good stewards of that with which God has entrusted us and to share willingly and cheerfully (2 Cor. 8, 9). Further, this does not correspond to communism, because this resulted from a spiritual unity among the people and was a voluntary act (5:4).

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

"All things common": See 4:32. This phrase conveys not that the early Christians lived in a commune or pooled and redistributed everything equally, but that they held their own possessions lightly, ready to use them at any moment for someone else, as needs arose.

It seems as if these believers stayed together, because they needed the strength of the apostles. Soon after this large group joined the disciples, the authorities became very upset and jailed many of them. Some of them were even martyred.

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

"Sold their possessions": This indicates that they had not pooled their resources (see note on verse 44) but sold their own possessions to provide money for those of the church in need (verse 46; 4:34-37; 2 Cor. 8:13-14).

At this particular time, these Christians thought that Jesus would be back very soon and set up His kingdom. They had made the mistake of rejecting Jesus once, they did not want to take any chance that Jesus would return and they not know it. They all stayed with the twelve apostles.

This sharing of all that they had kept the poor who came to Jesus from starving.

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

"Continuing daily ... in the temple": Believers went to the temple to praise God (verse 47), observe the daily hours of prayer (3:1), and witness to the gospel (verse 47; 5:42).

"Breaking bread from house to house": This has reference to the daily means that believers shared with one another.

"Gladness and singleness of heart": The Jerusalem church was joyful because its single focus was on Jesus Christ. See notes on 2 Cor. 11:3; Phil. 3:13-14.

Notice that they worshipped daily. They were so thankful that God would even have them after their rejection of the Lord. Nothing was too much. They were satisfied with what they had.

It was very similar to what Paul would say later, that whatever state he found himself in, he was content. They ate together and had all things common. They were of one accord as they were at Pentecost.

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

"The Lord added to the church daily": Verse 39; 5:14. See note on Matthew 16:18. Salvation is God's sovereign work.

These followers of Jesus were so thankful to be saved that praises were on their lips continually. This period of time was not the time of opposition. Everyone was still in somewhat a state of shock since the resurrection of Jesus. Almost everyone who heard the good news of the gospel wanted to be saved.

We read here, that the Lord added to the number of the believers (church) every day. The apostles preached (planted the seed), and God got the harvest.

Acts Chapter 2 Second Continued Questions

1. What did Peter say the house of Israel should know assuredly?

2. Who had they crucified?

3. After Peter preached, what effect did it have on the Israelites?

4. What question did they ask Peter and the other apostles?

5. Who had the Lord entrusted with the keys?

6. What did Peter tell them they must do to be saved?

7. What gift would they receive after they were baptized?

8. What was the main thing they were to repent of?

9. Who must they believe on?

10. Who was the promise made to?

11. Who are the ones who are spoken of as being afar off?

12. What did Peter tell them to save themselves from?

13. How many souls were added that day?

14. In 1 Corinthians, we learn that by the foolishness of

_____________God would save those who believe.

15. In verse 42, we find the converts continued steadfastly in what?

16. Did Jesus set up a doctrine for the church?

17. What commandments did Jesus tell us to observe?

18. Fear came on every soul; and many ____________and _____________were done by the apostles.

19. What kind of fear is spoken of in verse 43?

20. What does verse 44 tell us they did?

21. They sold their possessions and did what?

22. What was the main reason that they were not conscious of worldly goods?

23. What did they do daily?

24. How often were people added to the church?

25. Why were they praising continually?

26. The apostles _____________and ____________got the harvest.

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Acts 3

Acts Chapter 3

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

"Hour of prayer, being the ninth hour": 3:00 p.m. The Jews had 3 daily times of prayer (Psalm 55:17); the other two were 9:00 a.m. (third hour) and 12:00 noon (sixth hour).

According to Jewish reckoning, the day began at 6 a.m. hence, "the ninth hour" is 3 p.m. The Jewish prayer time was held in conjunction with the evening sacrifices and offering of incense (Luke 1:8-10; Rev. 8:3-4). Peter and John commonly went to the temple to pray at this hour. The Greek imperfect tense could well be translated "used to go up".

Notice here also the closeness of Peter and John. When Jesus was with them, many times He would send Peter, James, and John to do something for Him. It appears that after Jesus returned to heaven, Peter and John were still very close.

Verses 2-16: This passage demonstrates some important truths regarding Bible miracles:

(1) They always involve demonstrable, physical needs so that they are signs (2:43).

(2) They involve a complete and perfect work (even in Mark 8:22-26).

(3) They involve genuine, biblical faith. That is, there is nothing special about the lame man's faith (verses 4-7), nor about Peter's (verse 12). Rather, faith is man responding to God's word and will.

Faith is believing God concerning what He has said, knowing God's will, and then acting on it. This man was healed because God willed it as a sign, and then because Peter acted on what God's Spirit witnessed to him. Salvation is a supernatural work of God, but it is never described in Scripture as a sign or miracle.

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

"Gate of the temple ... called Beautiful": A large and ornate gate inside the temple mount on the eastern side, separating the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Woman.

"Alms": A charitable donation of money.

This Beautiful gate many believe is the same as the Eastern Gate. Some believe this gate to be the entrance to the woman's court. This man was born lame. Whether this was a deformity, or not, the Word does not say.

The people it would be easier to get an offering from would be the people who loved God. This place would be even more lucrative, since women many times have a softer heart for giving. This was this man's livelihood, since he could not walk. The court of the Gentiles and the women's court was the same.

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

"Into the temple": Beggars considered the temple the best site to operate because the daily throngs came to impress God with their pious good works, including offerings at the temple treasury.

If we look carefully in the spiritual realm at this lame man lying outside the church door, we can see a society that is crippled by all the sin. Our society seems to have gone mad. Our children are the most confused and crippled of all. They are taught in school that the world revolves around them, and yet they know that they cannot make these giant decisions themselves.

They realize these decisions are too much and they hide in drugs, alcohol, and rock music. They want somebody, somewhere to make these decisions for them. They search for someone who has answers to life's problems. They are spiritually crippled. Looking for solutions, they many times are led off into cults.

As I have said so many times, drugs, alcohol and all these other methods of escape are not the root problem. Mankind is crippled, because we are out of fellowship with God. When I see this lame man above, I see all those struggling people who are crippled by our society.

Jesus Christ is what they are all looking for. We ministers must do as Paul and Peter did here. We must focus in on them and get them to look at what we have to offer them. We must show them Jesus in us, so that they can reach out and receive the wonderful healing of not only their body, but spirit as well.

Acts 3:4-5 "And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us." "And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them."

Again, here in this lame man we see the crippled world. This man is looking for help wherever he can get it. This searching describes our society so well, ever searching for answers, but many times looking in the wrong places. The only true solution to any problem is in Jesus.

I hear so many people on Television and Radio today trying to figure out what can be done to heal our problems. There is only one answer. The Bible is our handbook for living. All of the instructions for a healthy happy life are explained in its pages. It is the only thing that will work.

Jesus is our Life. All of the other things we do to stop drugs and all other sin is like trying to stop a giant river from flowing with a band aid.

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

Here, we see Peter giving the lame what he really needs, not what he is asking for. This Scripture has really been misunderstood by so many. Peter is not saying that there is anything wrong in silver and gold He is apologizing to the man that he has none to give him. Then he says, I have a much better gift for you.

He says, In Jesus Christ of Nazareth's name you are healed. This says to me that our crippled children in our society are crying for someone to help them. Many want to put them in centers to dry them out, but what they really need is the Lord Jesus Christ to heal them. Give them a brand new life, not centered on self, but centered on Jesus. Then they can walk uprightly.

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

We see, here, the power of the name of Jesus Christ. When the apostle took this lame man by the hand, he was touching the man as an agent of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see that the apostle reaches out to this lame man.

We are an extension of the Lord when we reach out to help those around us who cannot help themselves. This was just the touch this man needed, and strength came, into his feet and ankles, as Peter helped him up by his right hand.

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

We must remember that this is the very first time he had ever walked, because he was born lame. Can you imagine his joy as he discovered he could walk? He directed his praise to the correct one, as well. He praised God, not Peter. Now he could go into the temple himself.

This reminds me of the overwhelming joy a person has when they are freed from sin and are made alive to follow Jesus.

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

Think of all the friends and family who would be overjoyed with him at his miracle. This should stir up their faith in God, as well. He has been made new in the name of Jesus Christ.

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

"Beautiful gate": See note on verse 2.

Here was a manifestation of Christianity. This miracle was done in the name of the very one, which had been crucified here just a short time before. Perhaps, they had heard of some of the miracles Jesus had done when He was here before, but to have this kind of power in just the mention of His name overwhelmed them.

This miracle would start these people to thinking about the power invested in even the followers of Jesus.

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

"Porch that is called Solomon's": A portico surrounding the temple's Court of the Gentiles. This was also where Jesus had taught about the Good Shepherd (John 10:23). Cf. Isaiah 35:6.

This lame man felt that, if somehow, he could hold on to Peter and John his strength would remain. This great number of people ran to marvel at these men. They were confusing this power as if it was in Peter and John, not through the power in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is even a thing to consider today. We must not be too overwhelmed by miracles. We must look beyond the miracle to Jesus.

Verses 12-26: Peter's second sermon also focuses on the person of Jesus Christ, showing

(1) That He is the Healer of this man (verses 12-16);

(2) That His suffering demonstrates Him to be the Messiah (verses 17-18); and,

(3) That the delay in His kingdom is due to their unbelief (verses 19-26. Peter literally commands in verse 19, "Repent" ... [so that] times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

The word translated "when" is used over 50 times in the New Testament and only here is translated "when."

It should be translated "that," showing the purpose for or the result of the promised forgiveness. Israel's nationwide repentance will precede the return of Christ to establish His kingdom (Zech. 13:8 - 14:4; Rom. 11:24-26; Rev. 7:3-10). Peter's sermon teaches these three things:

(1) God's ancient program concerning His kingdom is unchanged.

(2) This program awaits the return of Christ.

(3) Israel will share in it.

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

We see, here, that Peter quickly denies that any power within him is responsible for this miracle. Peter wants the praise directed to the true source of power, the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Peter tells these Israelites that he and John are just men like them.

The only real difference is that they have made a decision to follow Jesus. They have made Jesus their Lord, and in so doing they have allowed His power to operate through them.

Acts Chapter 3 Questions

1. When did Peter and John go to the temple in verse 1?

2. Why were they going to the temple?

3. How often did they go to the temple?

4. Which two disciples were really friendly after Jesus went back to heaven?

5. How long had the man in verse 2 been lame?

6. How did he get to town?

7. Where did he stay every day?

8. Why did he stay there?

9. What is another name for the Beautiful gate?

10. What was this the entrance to?

11. The court of the Gentiles was the same as what?

12. What did Peter and John tell him to do when they looked at him?

13. What is the spiritual meaning of all of this?

14. He gave heed unto them, expecting what?

15. What two things did Peter tell him he did not have to give him?

16. What name did Peter use when he told him to rise and walk?

17. How did Peter help him up?

18. What happened to the man to let him know he was healed?

19. Where did he go when he walked?

20. What did he do besides leap and walk?

21. What did the people see?

23. When the man held Peter and John, what did the people do?

24. What did Peter ask the people?

Acts Chapter 3 Continued

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

"The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob": A description of God familiar to Peter's Jewish audience (Exodus 3:6, 15; 1 Kings 18:36; 1 Chron. 29:18; 2 Chron. 30:6; Matt. 22:32). He used this formula, which stressed God's covenant faithfulness, to demonstrate that he declared the same God and Messiah whom the prophets had proclaimed.

"His Son Jesus": Peter depicted Jesus as God's personal representative. This is an unusual New Testament title for Jesus, used only 4 other places (verse 26; 4:27, 30; Matt. 12:18), but a more familiar Old Testament name for Messiah (Isaiah 42:1-4, 19; 49:5-7; see notes on 52:13-53:12; Matt. 20:28; John 6:38; 8:28; 13:1-7).

"Pilate ... determined to let him go": Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor at Jesus' trail, came from a national tradition that strongly supported justice (16:37-38; 22:25-29; 25:16).

He knew Jesus' crucifixion would be unjust and therefore declared Him innocent 6 times (Luke 23:4, 14-15, 22; John 18:38; 19:4, 6), and repeatedly sought to release Him (Luke 23:13-22; see notes on John 19:12-13).

In the lesson just before this one, Peter and John had prayed and healed the lame man in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The mob ran to them, as if they had done this miraculous healing. Peter quickly told them that it was not his power, but God's power.

Now in this verse above, Peter is specifically saying what God this is. He says, you say you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and yet you rejected His Son (the Messiah), and you even insisted on Pilate crucifying Him, when Pilate wanted to release Him. This healing of the man lame from birth glorifies the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

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

"The Holy One and the Just" (Psalm 16:10; Luke 4:34; John 6:39).

"Murderer": Barabbas (Matt. 27:16-21; Mark 15:11; Luke 23:18; John 18:40).

Peter is giving them the terrible details of their total rejection of the Savior of the world, and insisting that Pilate let the murderer Barabbas go instead.

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

"Killed ... God hath raised ... we are witnesses": Peter's confident and forceful declaration (1 Cor. 15:3-7), was a clear defense of and provided further evidence for Christ's resurrection. Peter's claim was undeniable; the Jews never showed any evidence, such as Jesus' corpse to disprove it.

"Prince of life": The Greek word for "prince" means originator, pioneer, or beginner of something. It describes Jesus as the Divine Originator of life (Psalm 36:9; Heb. 2:10; 12:2; 1 John 5:11, 20).

Peter is telling them here, that without Jesus there is no life. Jesus said in John:

John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Jesus is the Life. In Him we live, and breathe, and have our being. Peter, John, and about 500 other people were eyewitnesses that Jesus rose again.

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

Again (in John 14:13), Jesus says: "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

Peter explains that this great miracle done to the man who was lame from birth is because Peter and John activated the faith they had in the name of Jesus Christ, and that power healed this man. These onlookers here could not deny the miracle of the man walking who had been lame from birth. This is Christianity in action.

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

Wot means I know. Here, we see some compassion on Peter's part, because he had denied Jesus himself. He says; I know you did not realize who Jesus Christ was the same as the rulers in the church did not realize, or you would not have killed the King of all glory.

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

"Shewed by the mouth of all his prophets" (Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isa. 53; Zech. 12:10).

We see here, a little remorse even from Peter. He says, the prophets had told us in the Scriptures, we just didn't see it. Even Christ had told them He would suffer, but they did not grasp what He was saying. Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies.

Verses 19-21: "Times of refreshing ... times of restitution of all things": "Times" or "period" means epoch, era, or season. Two descriptions are given to the coming era of the millennial kingdom. This is clear because they bracket the reference to Jesus Christ being sent from God to bring those times.

Peter points to Christ's earthly reign (see notes on 1:7; Rom. 11:26). The period will be marked by all kinds of blessings and renewal (Isa. 11:6-10; 35:1-10; Ezek. 34:26; 44:3; Joel 2:26; Matt. 19:28; Rev. 19:1-10).

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

"Repent ... and be converted" (see notes on 2:38; Matt. 3:2). "Return" is a frequent New Testament word that relates to sinners turning to God (9:35; 14:15; 26:18, 20; Luke 1:16-17; 2 Cor. 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:25).

"Your sins ... be blotted out" (Psalm 51:9; Isa. 43:25; 44:22). "Wiped away" compares forgiveness to the complete wiping away of ink from the surface of a document (Col. 2:14).

This is the first good news that they have heard. There is hope for them. They must repent of rejecting Jesus as their Savior. The most wonderful thing of all is that not only will their sins be covered over, but that they will be completely done away with (blotted out). All they have to do is repent and change from not believing in the name of Jesus to believing.

To repent is to change one's mind completely. To be converted is to be saved. Without repentance and believing in the name of Jesus Christ, one cannot be saved. This change that takes place that makes a person a new creature in Christ is not a physical change, but a spiritual change.

A person who was born of the flesh after conversion is born of the spirit. This refreshing will come at the presence of the Lord.

Acts 3:20-21 "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:" "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."

Peter here, is telling them of the second coming of Christ. Jesus Christ will come in great power and glory.

Hebrews 7:25 "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."

You see, Jesus did not stop working to help His followers when He went to sit at the right hand of the Father. He speaks on our behalf to the Father continuously.

Jesus promised His followers (in Hebrews 13:5; the last part): "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

You may read of His coming with power and great glory (in Luke 21:27): "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."

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

Quoted from (Deut. 18:15). Moses was revered by the Jews as their first and greatest prophet, and the Jews viewed the prophet "like him" to refer to the Messiah.

We see here, Peter explaining exactly which of the prophets (Moses), has spoken in their Bible that their Messiah would be of their brethren.

You see, even John the Baptist sent word to Jesus and asked if He were that Prophet that Moses had prophesied would come. That Prophet was Jesus Christ their Messiah. This prophecy included the fact that they must hear and believe Messiah.

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

Quoted from (Deut. 18:19; Lev. 23:29). Peter's audience was in the precarious position of losing covenant blessings by rejecting the Messiah.

Peter is giving them the bottom line of salvation here. There is only one way to heaven and it is Jesus Christ. Those who reject Jesus as their Savior are lost. As far as God is concerned, there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who believe in Jesus as their Savior and those who don't. Those who do not believe in Jesus will spend an eternity in hell.

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

Prophets ... from Samuel": Samuel was called a prophet in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 3:20). Although he did not directly prophesy about Christ, he did anoint David as king and speak of his kingdom (1 Sam. 13:14; 15:28; 16:13; 28:17), and the promises David received were and will be fulfilled in Christ (2 Sam. 7:10-16).

Just about every Old Testament Book tells of the coming of the Lord to die on the cross and save His people. The Old Testament is full of not only the coming of Jesus as Savior, but also of His return to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.

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

"In thy seed" (quoted from Gen. 22:18; 26:4). Jesus Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and its blessings (Gal. 3:16), which are still available to the Jews.

All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are the spiritual seed of Abraham who was found worthy of God, because he believed.

Galatians 3:29 says: "And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

These people Peter was speaking to here, were the physical descendants of Abraham. If they accept Jesus as their Savior, they will be the spiritual descendants.

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

"God, having raised up" (see note on 2:32).

"His Son" (see note on verse 13).

Peter reminds them here, that Jesus offered salvation to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. The Lord only turned to the Gentiles, after the Jews refused to believe in Him.

Romans 11:11: "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy."

This is speaking of the Jews stumbling, so that the Gentiles might receive the Lord also.

Acts Chapter 3 Continued Questions

1. In verse 13, whose God did Peter tell them was Jesus' Father?

2. Who believed Jesus and did not want to crucify Him?

3. By what two names is Jesus called in verse 14?

4. Who had these Jews preferred over Jesus?

5. In verse 15, Jesus is called whom?

6. What had Peter and John been witness of?

7. In chapter 14 verse 6, what does Jesus call Himself?

8. Approximately, how many people had seen Jesus alive after the resurrection?

9. What does Peter say was the power in the healing of the lame man?

10. What is Christianity in action?

11. What does wot mean?

12. Through their ______________, they had doubted.

13. By whom had God told of Jesus' suffering?

14. What is the wonderful promise made that will happen when you repent and are converted?

15. What must these Jews repent of?

16. Without ______________and _______________in the name of Jesus Christ, one cannot be saved.

17, Becoming a new creature in Christ is what kind of change?

18. When will Jesus return to the earth?

19. When Jesus returns, it will be in great ________________and _____________.

20. What promise did Jesus make to all of His followers in Hebrews 13:5?

21. In Luke 21:27, how will Jesus come?

22. Which Old Testament prophet said there would be a Prophet raised up from the people?

23. Who asked if Jesus was that Prophet?

24. What will happen to those who do not believe this Prophet?

25. Which Old Testament prophet was mentioned in verse 24?

26. Through whose seed would all the kindreds of the earth be blessed?

27. What does Galatians 3:29 tell us of the spiritual descendants of this man?

28. Who was Jesus sent to first?

29. In Romans 11:11, what is said about the Jew and Gentile?

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Acts 4

Acts Chapter 4

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

"Priests": The office of priest in the Old Testament began with Aaron and his sons (Lev. 8). They became the human intermediaries between holy God and sinful humanity. They were characterized by 3 qualities:

(1) They were chosen and set apart for priestly service by God;

(2) They were to be holy in character; and

(3) They were the only ones allowed to come near to God on behalf of the people with the High-priest being the chief go-between on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16), Numbers 16:5.

"The captain of the temple": Chief of the temple police force (composed of Levites), and second ranking official to the High-Priest. The Romans had delegated the temple-policing responsibility to the Jews.

"Sadducees" (see notes on 23:8; Matt. 3:7).

Luke gives an extended account here of the arrest and trail of Peter and John, as he does later with Paul, to demonstrate that Christianity is not an illegal sect even though continually attacked.

We see here, a quick response to the Sermon Peter had preached. The priests, and the captain who guarded the temple, and the Sadducee (aristocrats), who did not believe in the resurrection came, because Peter and John had been preaching that Jesus rose again.

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

"Preached through Jesus the resurrection": This part of the apostles' message was the most objectionable to the Jewish leaders. They had executed Christ as a blasphemer and now Peter and John were proclaiming His resurrection.

The annoyance to the Jewish leaders was twofold:

(1) The presumption of the apostles to teach people as if they were recognized rabbis (verse 13), and

(2) The teaching of the resurrection, which was denied by these Sadducees (23:6).

This teaching of Peter and John is in direct opposition with what the Sadducee believes. This preaching of Peter and John angered these men from the temple.

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

"Now eventide": The Jews detained Peter and John overnight in jail because Jewish law did not permit trials at night. It had been too late to convene the Sanhedrin (see note on verse 15), that afternoon, so the apostles would face a hearing the next day before that council.

This is the beginning of the persecution of the followers of Jesus. We see that they held them overnight.

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

"Five thousand": The cumulative total of men in the Jerusalem church by this time, not the number of those converted after Peter's latest message.

Their phenomenal results may also have had something to do with their arrest. Five thousand men, plus women and children, have now turned to Christ in Jerusalem.

This believing the word which Peter and John had preached is an extension of chapter 3 in the last lesson. We read earlier how about 3,000 believed, now the group of believers has grown to 5,000 men. At this time, there were many women who believed, so the number of believers is expanding greatly.

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

"Rulers, and elders, and scribes": These positions made up the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin (see note on verse 15).

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

"Annas ... Caiaphas" (see note on John 18:13). Even though Annas (A.D. 6-15), had been replaced and Caiaphas was now High-Priest (A.D. 18-36), he retained his title and wielded great influence.

"John ... Alexander": Their identities are uncertain. "John" could be an alternate reading for "Jonathan," who was one of Annas' sons and replaced Caiaphas as High-Priest (in A.D. 36).

Annas was the patriarchal, ex-high priest. His son-in-law Caiaphas held the political office (Luke 3:2).

This shows that the higher-ups in the temple were all gathered together to see if they couldn't trap Peter and John.

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

This is an interrogation of Peter and John. The question itself, lets you know that these in power here did not have respect for the name of Jesus Christ. Instead of being pleased that a man crippled from birth can now walk, they were ready to criticize what they had done.

Verses 8-12: Peter put the Sanhedrin on trial by preaching the gospel to those same men who condemned Jesus Christ and made themselves enemies of God.

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

"Filled with the Holy Ghost" (see note on 2:4). Because Peter was under the control of the Spirit, he was able to face persecution and preach the gospel with power (Luke 12:11-12).

Acts 4:9-10 "If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;" "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."

It is so important to notice the difference in Peter here, and the Peter who had been afraid and denied Jesus three times. This Peter is filled with the power of the Holy Ghost. He is looking these accusers in the face and telling them that they killed Jesus.

He is also telling these powerful (worldly) men, who do not believe in the dead rising again, that Jesus whom they killed, rose again. In fact, he is telling them that this power to do miracles, that no one in their group was able to do, came just by mentioning the name of this Jesus they had crucified.

Peter has no fear of what these worldly men can do to him. He also reminds them that they are trying to punish him for a good deed, not a bad.

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

Peter gets even bolder and tells them that Jesus was the cornerstone upon which all the church fits together with, and these supposedly godly men rejected the most important part of the church. Jesus the cornerstone, brought physical Israel and spiritual Israel into the family of God (quoted from Psalm 118:22. Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-8).

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

"None other name": This refers to the exclusivism of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. There are only two religious paths: the broad way of works salvation leading to eternal death, and the narrow way of faith in Jesus, leading to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14; John 10:7-8; 14:6). Sadly, the Sanhedrin and their followers were on the first path.

The name of Jesus Christ is the center of contention (verse 7, 10, 12), and ever will be. Salvation for Jew and Gentile alike is exclusively through the name of Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

The Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood on Calvary to save us from sin and death. Christianity is really the only religion which promises eternal life after death; and hell after death, if we reject so great salvation. The religions of the world (other than Christianity), center around man's life on the earth.

The difference in most religions and Christianity is that Christians worship the Creator of all the earth. Most other religions worship the created things of the earth and heavens. Jesus is the Judge of all the world and we will stand or fall by whether we are His or not. He is our great Shepherd and on judgment day, if we are His sheep, we will live eternally in heaven with Him.

If we are not His sheep, we will go the way of the goats to eternal damnation. You may read about this (in Matthew 25:32 on).

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

"Unlearned and ignorant men": Peter and John were not educated in the rabbinical schools and had no formal training in Old Testament theology.

The Greek words literally say that Peter and John were "unlettered" men and "commoners." They were unlettered or uneducated in the technical, rabbinical teachings. They were commoners in that they possessed no official positions nor special abilities. But the priests do clearly note that these men have been with Jesus. This explains their boldness and power.

These men had not been taught in the rabbinical schools as the Levitical tribe was. This boldness, when speaking out for the good news of the gospel, is very important: not only to the apostles then, but also to the preachers today. All who receive this baptism whether preachers or laymen receive power to minister more boldly.

One of the beauties of the effective preacher is in his or her boldness to speak in common every day English, so that all can understand what you are saying. The Lord does not choose ordinarily the highly educated to carry the simple message of the gospel. People with a great deal of education, sometimes, want everything proven in black and white.

The Bible and its teachings are accepted by faith. Faith and proven facts are the opposite. The Lord generally chooses those with a humble heart who He can teach His ways. These apostles, Jesus had taught one on one. It was easier for them to believe, because they did not have pre-conceived ideas.

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

We can quickly see that the evidence was stacked in favor of Peter and John. The man who had been lame from birth was standing in front of them. These priests, Sadducees, captains and high ranking people from the temple could not deny the man could now walk. They would have to let them go.

Verses 15-17: It would be risky to punish the two apostles when they had broken no laws and had performed a miracle that captured the entire city's attention. But the Sanhedrin believed it had to stop the preaching of the incriminating truth that its members had executed the Messiah.

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

"Council": The Sanhedrin, the Jews' national ruling body and supreme court. It had 71 members, including the High-Priest (see note on verse 5).

This had these high officials of the temple confused as to what to do. They had no idea how they would be able to discredit the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and still not deny this miracle. Either way, the council would look bad.

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

These religious men should be repenting for refusing to accept Jesus as Messiah. They have been shown again, by this tremendous miracle in His name, who He is and was. They really should be asking help of Peter and John, instead they are trying to figure out a way to save face with their temple people.

Acts Chapter 4 Questions

1. As Peter and John spoke to the people, who came up?

2. What were these men grieved about?

3. What did they do to Peter and John?

4. In verse 4, we find that the number of the believing men had grown to what number?

5. Who gathered together at Jerusalem as a council against Peter and John in verses 5 and 6?

6. What question did they ask Peter and John?

7. What caused Peter to speak so boldly?

8. How did Peter answer their question?

9. Who did Peter say crucified Jesus?

10. What is the difference in Peter now, and the Peter who denied Jesus?

11. What is Jesus called in verse 11?

12. Who is salvation in?

13. Which is the only religion that promises eternal life just by believing?

14. Who is the great Shepherd?

15. When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they perceived that they were ____________ and ____________men.

16. These men knew that Peter and John had been with whom?

17. What is one of the most important assets a preacher needs?

18. Who does the Lord choose to work for Him?

19. What and proven facts are opposites?

20. Why could they not say anything against Peter and John healing the man?

21. In verse 15, where did they command Peter and John to go?

22. When the council met, what had them confused?

Acts Chapter 4 Continued

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

In the previous lesson, we saw the leaders of the temple confining Peter and John overnight. They could not hold them, because they had no charges against them that were believable. They could plainly see that the lame man could now walk, and they could not deny it was a miracle.

Somehow they were going to have to get the People's minds off Jesus Christ of Nazareth, or they felt it would jeopardize worship in the temple. The people who regularly came to the temple to worship might begin to believe in Jesus as the Christ, and if they did they would lose the rule over them.

At this point, these officials had to know that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (Christ). Rather than lose their position in the church, they would not openly admit to believing in Him.

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

Here we see a spiritual truth about whether we should obey the government when it conflicts with the teachings in the Bible. The answer is, we should at all times do what we are taught to do in the Bible. We are directed to obey those that rule over us, but not when it opposes God and His teaching.

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

"To hearken unto you more than unto God": Christians should obey governmental authority (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17), but when government decrees are clearly contrary to God's Word, God must be obeyed (Exodus 1:15-17; Dan. 6:4-10).

We see here, a boldness in Christ. These disciples are speaking of the righteousness of Christ. They are not concerned with what the world will do to them. They want to be in the perfect will of God. The same God that saved Daniel in the Lions' den could save them in whatever trials come.

These religious people of the day knew the law, but were not acquainted with the Lawgiver. I like the way these apostles tell them that they will have to follow God, rather than earthly leaders. They make the rulers of the temple decide. If these rulers say to do as they say, they would be saying don't listen to God.

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

Here, we see the apostles explaining that they are compelled to speak the things that have been shown them. Many ministers in our day should be like these apostles. They should speak what they have seen and heard of God regardless of whose toes they step on.

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

The people would have come against these rulers of the church, if they had tried to punish Peter and John here. This leaves it unsaid, but it appears above that these rulers would have punished Peter and John to get them hushed up (despite this great miracle).

I see over and over in these rulers a fear of losing their position in the temple and with the people. It was evident there was a miracle, (but they were able to overlook that), just to save face and stay as the leaders of the church.

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

The temple leaders had forty years to help this man, and they did not. Now, that he is walking after so long a time, this not only gives power to the ministry of Peter and John, but discredits these religious leaders in the temple.

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

"Chief priests": A small group within the Sanhedrin (see note on verse 15), composed of former High-Priests and members of influential priestly families (see note on Matt. 2:4).

"Elders": (see note on verse 5).

Now, we see Peter and John returning to the other disciples to draw strength from each other, and to report to the others what opposition is out there. This is the beginning of the followers of Jesus being persecuted. This looks to me, as if the people who are supposed to be the spiritual leaders in the temple are turning down these new workings of God.

They fear it might do away with temple worship, and in turn, cause there to be no need for them. These temple leaders, up until this time, have enjoyed being put up on a pedestal by the temple worshippers. They do not want to lose their position of importance regardless of whether these miracles are of God, or not.

These apostles have gone back to their fellow servants to pray to God for strength and guidance.

Verses 24-30: Peter and John's experience did not frighten or discourage the other disciples, but exhilarated them. They took confidence in God's sovereign control of all events, even their sufferings. Furthermore, they were comforted that the opposition whom they were facing was foreseen in the Old Testament (verses 25-26).

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

"Lord": The Greek word is an uncommon New Testament title for God that means "absolute master" (Luke 2:29; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4; Rev. 6:10).

This prayer to God was from an inspired powerful group (filled with the Holy Spirit). These people are still in agreement, only God can cause this one accord. These disciples have not only accepted Jesus as their Savior, but have also, made Him their Lord. He gives the orders; they just carry His orders out.

Notice how at the very beginning of this prayer, they glorify God. You can easily see also, that the Scriptures have been quickened to them as well. They are recalling Scriptures that David spoke of the non-believers around them in the next verse.

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

"By the mouth of thy servant David" (see note on 1:16). In the events of recent days, the disciples saw a fulfillment of (Psalm 2:1-2), which they quoted.

We see that people, who are already set in their ways and have already made up their mind that God is a certain way, are not eager to hear the good news of the gospel.

They have studied for years the bad news of the law. The law was threatening and this grace was promising. They were not ready for this, and they became very angry. These people, spoken of in this prophecy of David's, were self-centered, full of vanity, and had no intention of listening, even if it was good news.

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

This is speaking of people of all degrees of authority who oppose Christianity. Possibly this meant civil and religious leaders, probably the same crowd which had crucified Him. They have no intention of admitting they made a mistake.

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

"Child": (Greek pais, verses 27, 30), would be better translated "servant" in this context.

Even now, many of the same people are still rejecting Jesus as the Christ risen from the dead. This prayer is addressed to the Father as all prayers should be and that is why Jesus is spoken of as His Holy Child.

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

"Thy hand and thy counsel": God has written all of history according to His external plan. The crucifixion of Jesus was no exception (see note on 2:23; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:5-11).

We see here, that the heathen mentioned (in verse 25), includes, Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles, and people of Israel who rejected Jesus. All of these people had a hand in destroying Jesus.

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

This is a cry for help. Of course, the Father is already aware of the threatening's. They have never stopped all through the years. If you are living for Jesus, the world hates you. This prayer is not so much to get God to stop the threats, as it is a request of Jesus' followers to be able to speak the uncompromising word with great boldness in the face of the threats.

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

"Signs and wonders" (see note on 2:19).

"Holy child" (see note on 3:13).

The gifts of the Spirit of God to the believers are given severally as you will.

1 Corinthians 12:11: "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

Read all of (1 Cor. 12:11), and it will explain the gifts of the Spirit of God that believers in Christ Jesus can have operating in their lives. Each gift must be received by the person desiring it.

Notice these disciples (in verse 30), want these gifts to be operating in the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The signs and wonders are to cause people to believe.

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

"Was shaken": As on Pentecost, a physical phenomenon indicated the presence of the Holy Spirit (see notes on 2:2-3).

"Filled with the Holy Ghost" (see notes on verse 8; 2:4).

As with Peter (in verse 8), so now the whole body of believers experiences a renewal of the controlling influence or filling of the Spirit (see the note on 2:4).

When the Spirit of God is present, old structures are shaken, lives are changed, and people are strengthened anew to speak of the things of God. My own personal belief is that, there is one baptism in the Holy Ghost, but many fillings. Sometimes we get weak in the Spirit and we need God to breathe life into us afresh.

When Peter had said earlier in his ministry that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the Living God, Jesus told Peter that the Holy Spirit had revealed this to him. No one can speak powerful messages for God except the Holy Spirit reveals it to them. The boldness comes from God.

Verses 32-35: "All things common" (see notes on 2:44-46). Believers understood that all they had belonged to God, and therefore when a brother or sister had a need, those who could meet it were obligated to do so (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17). The method was to give the money to the apostles who would distribute it (verses 35, 37).

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

We see here, that all of these disciples became as one big family. They shared their worldly goods that God had entrusted them with. In the first part of (verse 32), it says one soul; I believe this means that they were all walking in the will of God. They had made Jesus Lord and had given their will over to His will.

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

"Witness of the resurrection" (see note on 1:22).

"Great grace": This means "favor" and carries a twofold meaning here:

(1) Favor from the people outside the church. Because of the believers' love and unity, the common people were impressed (2:47); and

(2) Favor from God who was granting blessing.

We see here, that the boldness they prayed for came. The resurrection was a high point of argument with many of the Jews who did not believe in life after death. This grace was not only God toward them, but them toward others, as you see in the next verse.

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

This is concern for each other to the utmost. You must remember, they were expecting Jesus back just any minute, and they did not want to be caught up in worldly things when that happened.

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

This way no one suffered, everyone who gave up jobs to work for God, at least had their necessities met.

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

"Joses ... surnamed Barnabas": Luke introduces Barnabas as a role model from among those who donated property proceeds. Barnabas was a member to the priestly tribe of the Levites and a native of the island of Cyprus. He becomes an associate of Paul and a prominent figure later in the book (9:26-27; 11:22-24, 30; chapters 13 - 15).

"Cyprus": Barnabas was from Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia, located some 60 miles west off the Syrian coast (see note on 13:4).

Acts 4:37 "Having land, sold [it], and brought the money, and laid [it] at the apostles' feet."

"Having ... land, sold it": The Old Testament prohibited Levites from owning property in Israel (Numbers 18:20, 24: Deut. 10:9), but that law was apparently no longer in force. It is also possible that the land was in Cyprus.

Notice in all of this, that they were not required to do this. These were freewill offerings of what they had. This is not necessarily the pattern our churches should take today. This is just what these people were led to do at that time. It was possibly the only way the church could begin, because those who work for God have no time to make a living for themselves.

This unselfishness on their part gave Christianity a real foot-hold. Without their unselfish generosity, the church would have taken longer to put together. This was not commanded of them to do by the Lord. This was from their loving hearts.

Even today, the good news of the gospel could not go forth, if it were not for people who are willing to give much more than is expected of them to win a lost world. The followers of Jesus Christ have always paid, so that the unbelieving world might be saved.

This Barnabas (seldom mentioned), was truly a man of God who gave all to the work. This son of consolation means to me, that he preached or exhorted the Word of God. He was certainly one of the unsung Heroes of the Bible. This was the same Barnabas who travelled with Paul later.

Acts Chapter 4 Continued Questions

1. Who threatened Peter and John not to preach about Jesus Christ and His resurrection?

2. Should we always obey government rules?

3. Who did Peter and John tell them they would obey?

4. What two things must Peter and John speak?

5. After they had threatened Peter and John again, what did they do to them?

6. Why did they not punish them?

7. How old was the man who was made whole?

8. Where did Peter and John go when they were released?

9. Why do you suppose these temple rulers would not admit this healing was of God and that they had made a mistake about Jesus?

10. What did they do as soon as they were with the other disciples?

11. What is the first thing they do in this prayer?

12. What has the Spirit helped them recall?

13. What had David said?

14. In verse 26, who was gathered against the Lord?

15. Who are the heathen spoken of here?

16. Who should all prayers be addressed to?

17. Whose name should you pray in?

18. In verse 29, they ask God to grant them what?

19. The signs and wonders are to be done in whose name?

20. What are the signs and wonders for?

21. When they had prayed, what happened?

22. What are some of the things that happen when the Spirit of God is present?

23. Why would they be filled with the Holy Ghost again?

24. What does being of one soul mean?

25. What happened to their personal belongings?

26. What great power gave the apostles witness of the ___________,

27. When they sold their houses and land, what did they do with the money?

28. What did the apostles surname Joses?

29. What does his name mean?

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Acts 5

Acts Chapter 5

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

"Ananias ... Sapphira": These are two classic examples of hypocrisy among Christians who faked their spirituality to impress others (Matt. 6:1-6; 16-18; 15:7; 23:13-36).

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

"Kept back part of the price": This was not a sin in and of itself however, they had promised, perhaps publicly, and that they were giving the full amount received to the Lord. Their outward sin was lying about how much they were giving to the church. But the deeper, more devastating sin was their spiritual hypocrisy based on selfishness.

Ananias and Sapphira were not required of God to give their possessions. They decided between themselves to sell the land and lie to the apostles (representing the work of the Holy Ghost on earth), and hold back part of the money.

Verses 5:3-4: The deity of the Holy Spirit is evident within this passage. In verse 3 Peter states that Ananias has lied to the Holy Spirit. Then in verse 4 Ananias is told that he has lied to God.

Ananias must have promised the Lord he would give the whole amount. He lied to the ever-present Holy Spirit in him (1 Cor. 6:19-20), and in the church (Eph. 2:21-22).

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

"Satan filled thine heart": Ananias and Sapphira were satanically inspired in contrast to Barnabas' Spirit-filled gesture (4:37).

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

Communal sharing is still being practiced some weeks or months after Pentecost, but it was totally voluntary. Ananias's sin was not that of keeping back part of what he sold, but his hypocrisy about it.

The sin here is not in Ananias not bringing all the money for the land, but in the fact that he brought part of the money and told the apostles that he had brought all. To lie to man is one thing, but to lie to God is an entirely different thing. The sin here is lying.

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

"Great fear" (see verse 11). They were afraid about the seriousness of hypocrisy and sin in the church. The people learned that death can be the consequence of sin (see 1 Cor. 11:30-32; 1 John 5:16). That fear extended beyond those present to all who heard about the divine judgment (see Deut. 21:22-23).

Though God does not judge every believer's sin with death, in some situations God does (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 John 5:16). As with Achan, this first act in a new era serves as an example (Joshua 7:10-26).

God is a loving God, but He is also a just God. The judgment came swiftly here, so that all could see that lying to God is a very bad sin. Notice, Sapphira did not die when Ananias lied. You can imagine the fear that gripped the camp. Somehow Sapphira did not hear of this.

Verses 6-10: The Jews did not embalm, but customarily buried the dead the same day, especially someone who died by divine judgment (see Deut. 21:22-23).

Acts 5:6 "And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried [him] out, and buried [him]."

In a case of this nature there would not have been mourning in the camp. The sooner this was taken care of, the better. This dishonest man was quickly removed from the camp.

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

There is one really important lesson to be learned here, besides the lesson of not to lie to God. Notice, she was not condemned for the sin of her husband. She will be judged on her own merit. Had she told the truth at this point, she would have lived. She is guilty of her own sin, not the sin of her husband.

Wives, you are responsible for your own sins. You need to listen to your husband, until it involves things of the spirit. Then you are an independent agent.

Husbands rule over their wives' flesh, not their spirit. There is an order in the home that God has set up and we need to heed it. Husbands are the head of the home (in the flesh).

Ladies, God will not accept the excuse for you not coming to church, because your husband won't come. In things of the spirit, you are responsible yourself for your own decisions. As we see in the next verse.

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

Who might be inquiring for her husband; though such a way of speaking was common with the Jews, when nothing goes before to which the answer is made. Of which there are frequent instances in the sacred writings.

"Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much"? Naming the sum of money which Ananias had brought; though the historian does not mention it. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, "tell me, O woman", etc. Not calling her by her name, as he did her husband (Acts 5:3).

"Yea" for so much". Just that sum, and no more.

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

"Tempt the Spirit of the Lord": Sapphira had gone too far in presuming upon God's forbearance. The folly of such blatant human presumption had to be shown as a sin, hence the ultimate divine chastening that followed.

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

We see that this turning away from the beautiful workings of the early church and lying to the Holy Ghost brought sudden destruction. Ananias and Sapphira conceived this crime together, they both sinned and they met with a common fate and were buried together.

This whole message is not saying, to be a Christian you must sell everything and give it to the church. It is saying that it is a great sin to lie to the Holy Spirit of God. Their sin was lying.

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

"Church": This is the first use of "church" in Acts, although it is the most common word used to describe the assembly of those who had believed (4:32).

This fear here is fear of God. These people suddenly become very aware that God is indeed not only a discerner of our deeds, but of the intents of our hearts, as well. The power of God manifested here would cause great respect for God and His prophets.

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

"Signs and wonders" (see note on 2:19).

"Solomon's porch" refers to the colonnaded eastern wall of the temple courtyard. The early Christians commonly gathered here for mass meetings (3:11). Few places could better accommodate the thousands (see note on 3:11).

These signs and wonders were from God to let the world know that these disciples were agents of Almighty God. They were not acting on their own merits, but were obedient servants of God.

These miracles were evidence that could not be denied by the rulers of the temple. Notice also that the followers of Jesus were not bickering among themselves, but were all in one accord. To me, this means their minds and hearts were stayed upon God.

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

"No man join himself to them" (see note on verse 5). These unbelievers had respect for the followers of Jesus, but feared the deadly potential of joining the church.

We see here that, great astonishment gripped all the people. No more people joined the group possibly for fear of their weaknesses causing them trouble like Ananias and Sapphira.

The people magnified them. This included the Jewish rulers. This unity and also this happening with the two that lied to the Holy Spirit put fear and great respect for these disciples in all of them."

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

"Believers ... men and women": While the unbelievers stayed away due to fear of the consequence of sin, there were multitudes who heard the gospel witness, gladly believed, and joined the church.

These believers here, who were added, were not added to these apostles who had all things common. These were ordinary people who started believing that Jesus was their Savior and Lord. Men and women in great numbers accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord.

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

"Peter ... overshadow": The people truly believed he had divine healing power and that it might even extend to them through his shadow (3:1-10). But Scripture does not say Peter's shadow ever healed anyone. In fact, the healing power of God through him seemed to go far beyond his shadow (verse 16, "people ... all being healed"). This outpouring of healing was an answer to the prayer (in 4:29-30).

We see the power of the Lord Jesus Christ working mightily through Peter here. We saw, when Peter and John prayed for the lame man to walk and he miraculously was healed; a small portion of this power in action.

We also, saw how the power of the Spirit refilled the disciples. After this second filling of the power from on high to minister, it seemed that even the shadow of Peter brought such healing power from the Spirit of God that many were healed. This was not Peter's power, but the power of the Spirit in Peter that was doing this healing.

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

"Unclean spirits" (Matthew 10:1; 12:43-45; Mark 1:23-27; 5:1-13; 6:7; 9:25; Luke 4:36; 8:29; 9:42). They are demons, fallen angels (Rev. 12:3), who are so designated because of their vile wickedness. They frequently live inside unbelievers, particularly those who vent their wicked nature.

John 14:12-14 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]."

Notice who does the healing (it is the power of the Risen Christ). Peter is just using the power of the Risen Christ to heal. It is the name of Jesus the Christ that heals. Jesus had said if His followers believed, they could do greater miracles than He did when He was on earth by just the use of His name.

Acts Chapter 5 Questions

1. What were the names of the husband and wife who sold the property in verse 1?

2. What did they do with the money?

3. What did they lie about?

4. Which disciple had they lied to?

5. Who did that disciple represent?

6. Who had filled their hearts with the desire to lie?

7. Were they required to give all their money?

8. What was the sin?

9. What happened to Ananias as punishment?

10. Who carried him out?

11. How much later was it before the wife came to Peter?

12. Was she punished for her husband's lie, or her own lie?

13. What happened to her?

14. How did this happening affect the church?

15. Who were many signs and wonders shown by?

16. In verse 13, we find what effect to the disciples all of this had, what was it?

17. In verse 14, who were added to the Lord?

18. In verse 15, they brought their sick and demon possessed and put them where what could happen?

19. How many were healed?

20. Who will be glorified in this?

21. When we pray, whose name must we pray in?

Acts Chapter 5 Continued

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

"High priest" (see note on 4:6). Here the title could refer to Annas (4:6), or Caiaphas.

"Sadducees" (see notes on 23:8; Matt. 3:7).

We see jealousy coming forth here. This high priest and these Sadducees could not deny that the miracles were done. They knew that they did not have the power to heal people, and they felt that people would stop coming to the temple and would follow these apostles instead.

This is a little like some churches now that get upset when some other church starts having converts. Jealousy has no place in the kingdom of God.

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

These leaders of the temple felt to protect their position in the temple and to keep worship in the temple the only worship services going on, they would lock these men of God up. This common prison just means that they were put in with the thieves and other dangerous criminals.

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

"The angel of the Lord": This person should not be confused with "the angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament.

This angel of the Lord was a ministering spirit sent by the Lord to release them from prison.

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

"All the words of this life": The gospel (Phil. 2:16; 1 John 1:1-14). Jesus Christ came into this world to provide abundant and eternal life to spiritually dead people (John 1:4; 11:25; 1 John 5:20).

They were not released so that they might run and hide, but that they might carry the message of life to all. They were to go back to the temple where they were taken before and preach the good news of the gospel. They were to teach that all should repent of their sins, and be baptized.

Those who believe in their heart and confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus shall inherit eternal life.

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

Both "council" and "senate" refer to the Jewish Sanhedrin. It functioned both as the high court and legislative body of the Jews (see the note on 23:6).

It appears these people did not know that God had sent an angel to release them. These priests and council had planned to punish them. They were going to bring them before the council to be sentenced. Little did this council know that these apostles were right that minute preaching and teaching.

Acts 5:22-23 "But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told," "Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within."

These officers have an amazing tale to tell these rulers. The door was still locked, the guards were still on duty, and yet the imprisoned apostles had disappeared.

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

These rulers were concerned about this spreading to the people and making them more certain that these apostles were of the true God.

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

The very last place these rulers of the temple thought they would find these apostles would be in the temple teaching. They would have expected them to run to safety, not to come into the temple.

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

We see here, that the captain and his officers are afraid of what these followers of Jesus might do, if they take Peter and the other apostles. Remember, that many of these followers had been healed by the shadow of Peter falling on them. These people had tasted of the power of the true God; they were not about to let this handful of officers destroy Peter and the other apostles.

Acts 5:27 "And when they had brought them, they set [them] before the council: and the high priest asked them,"

We see here, the fear that has gripped these rulers in the temple. They know they are guilty of having crucified Jesus.

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

"Teach": The gospel of Jesus Christ (see notes on 2:14-40; 4:12-13).

They remind Peter, and the others, that they had been commanded of them not to preach and teach in this name. It appears they are afraid to even utter the name of Jesus.

Their guilty conscience has overwhelmed them, but they still will not admit that they asked for their Messiah's death. They are afraid, not only of the hereafter, but of losing their position in the church now.

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

"Obey God rather than men" (see note on 4:19).

Peter is not sanctioning civil disobedience, as he makes clear in his first epistle (1 Pet. 2:13-17; Rom 13:1-7). We are to obey civil government, but when it goes contrary to the explicit commands of God, we must obey God and be ready to suffer the consequences.

This was a very bold statement to make to the leaders of the temple. Up until Jesus' arrival, the high priest was thought to be God's agent here on the earth.

We discussed in an earlier lesson that, we should obey those in authority over us. The only time it is okay not to obey authority on earth is when it would hinder doing God's will. That is what is being said here. I will obey God and not man.

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

"Hanged on a tree" (Deut. 21:23; Gal 3:13).

These apostles are filled with the power of God and are bold in their response to the high priest and the rulers of the temple. He reminds them, also, that his ancestry went back to Abraham, as well as theirs and that the God of all of them was the one who raised Jesus from the tomb. He is saying that you killed your own Messiah (Christ).

Acts 5:31 "Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."

"God exalted with his right hand" (see notes on 1:9; Mark 16:19; Phil. 2:9-11).

"Prince" (see note on 3:15).

"Repentance to Israel": Salvation for the Jews. Salvation demands repentance (2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). For the nature of repentance (see notes on 2 Cor. 7:9-12).

These apostles are boldly telling these leaders of the temple: You killed the only one who can save you from your sins. You were cautioned to repent, and accept forgiveness of your sins, and accept Jesus Christ as Prince (the Son of God). Jesus was your Savior, as well as all of ours, and you rejected him.

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

"So is also the Holy Ghost": Every believer receives the Spirit the moment one is saved by obeying the gospel (see note on 2:4; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

We are told that Jesus was seen of over 500 people after His resurrection. They were all witnesses that what Peter said here is true. Just the fact of the power of the Holy Ghost which had been manifested in these miracle healings they had done in Jesus' name, was a large enough witness that He was risen, and was indeed, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Acts Chapter 5 Continued Questions

1. In verse 17, the men with the high priest were of what sect?

2. What did these temple officials do to these apostles?

3. What one word covers the feelings of these temple officials?

4. Compare this to churches of our day.

5. What did they do with the apostles?

6. What is intended by common in verse 18?

7. Who opened the prison doors?

8. What message was given the apostles?

9. Who shall inherit eternal life?

10. When did the apostles preach again and where?

11. Who met with the high priest to determine what to do with these apostles?

12. When the officers came to the jail, what did they find?

13. In verse 24, who was worried about the news of this escape spreading?

14. Someone came and told the rulers what about these apostles?

15. Why were the captain and officers careful not to use violence to bring the apostles?

16. What did the high priest say that he had already commanded them not to do?

17. The high priest said, they had filled all __________________with their doctrine.

18. Who did the apostles tell them they should obey?

19. When is the only time it is okay to not obey the authority directly over you?

20. Who did the apostles say raised up Jesus?

21. Who did the apostles say slew Jesus?

22. In verse 31, God exalted Jesus to be what two things?

23. What does prince in verse 31 indicate?

24. Who was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus?

Acts Chapter 5 Second Continued

In the last lesson, we learned that the apostles of Jesus, led by Peter had escaped from jail and were back into the temple preaching. They had been commanded of the high priest not to speak any more in Jesus' name. The apostles told these religious leaders that they in fact caused the death of Jesus. They also told them that they had need to repent.

The Jewish law said that you needed two witnesses to establish a fact. The disciples reminded them that they were all witnesses of Jesus' resurrection and that the operation of the Holy Ghost in the miracle healings, was a witness also.

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

They would have to get Peter and these other apostles quieted down, or they would be thrown out of their high position in the temple. This deeply grieved them that they might lose their high esteem among the people, and they started figuring out a way to kill these apostles to get them to be still.

You would have thought they would have had a guilty conscience and repented, but they did not. Their only fear was of losing their power over the people.

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

"Gamaliel" was a respected Pharisee, a prominent teacher at Jerusalem, a member of the Jewish high council (the Sanhedrin), and the teacher of Paul. Jewish tradition states that Gamaliel's grandfather was Hillel, the prominent rabbi who represented the liberal wing of the Pharisees in opposition to the more rigid, and conservative wing led by Shammai.

Like his grandfather, the prominent rabbi Hillel, Gamaliel the most noted rabbi of his time, led the liberal faction of the Pharisees. His most famous student was the Apostle Paul (22:3).

When the lives of the apostles were in jeopardy before the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel quieted them with his persuasive and pragmatic speech. Gamaliel is mentioned only twice in Scripture (Acts 5:34; and 22:3).

Gamaliel means reward of God. This man was a very educated man in the law and seems to have wisdom in the decisions he makes. First, he is very careful to put the apostles back out of hearing range, so they cannot hear him plead their case. Had they been in close range, the rulers would not have listened, because they would not want to lose face before these Hebrews.

This man is of the same group as Paul (Pharisees). Paul would later remind the Hebrews that he was a Pharisee. This Gamaliel was highly thought of among not only his people, but these rulers as well; perhaps because of the wise decisions he made. He was head of the school in Jerusalem.

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

We see here, a solemn warning to be careful in dealing with these men. Gamaliel is saying, you must be sure of what you are accusing them of and also, careful not to cause their followers to come in force against you.

They could cause a big problem for the leaders of the temple, if they do not handle it just right. This man is not only an educated man in the law, but uses very good judgment as well.

Verses 36-39: Many false messiahs have arisen throughout the ages, as Christ Himself predicted (Matt. 24:5). These have all died and have amounted to nothing. Gamaliel cites two such cases from his lifetime to discourage and rash actions against the Twelve. God in His providence uses this to protect His servants.

Gamaliel's advice must not be regarded, however, as biblical precept. False teachers do not inherently cease with the passing of time. Paul, one of Gamaliel's own students (22:3), did not follow or teach this principle. We are to note, rebuke, and oppose false teachings (Romans 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; Jude 3).

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

"Theudas": An otherwise unknown individual who led a revolt in Judea in the early years of the first century, not to be confused with a later Theudas cited in Josephus as a revolutionary.

It is uncertain to me who Theudas was. The only thing we know for sure is that he claimed to be a great prophet and convinced about 400 men to follow him.

This Theudas did not pass the test of time. Theudas was killed and his followers scattered. The difference being made here is that Jesus Christ had more followers after His death than in His life. One giant difference is that Jesus rose from the grave.

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

"Rose up Judas of Galilee": The founder of the Zealots who led another revolt in Palestine early in the first century. Zealots, a party of Jews who were fanatical nationalists, believed that radical action was required to overthrow the Roman power in Palestine. They even sought to take up arms against Rome.

"Days of the taxing": One ordered by Quirinius, governor of Syria (in 6-7 B.C.; Luke 2:2).

This Judas of Galilee was not from Galilee, but Gamala. Galilee was the place he led his rebellion from. He was opposing the census, so tradition says. In the Bible, the only mention of him is here. He was killed just like Theudas and his followers scattered.

You see, these both were worldly men and the men who followed them were of the flesh. They were not spiritual men. There is no comparison at all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 38-39: Members of the Sanhedrin heeded Gamaliel's words concerning the apostles. But, based on his knowledge of Scripture, Gamaliel should have been more decisive and less pragmatic about accepting Jesus as the risen Messiah.

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

This Gamaliel is advising the temple leaders to just let the apostles of Jesus alone and let them run their course. If they are not of God, these things that they teach will die out and the followers of this Jesus will be scattered.

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

This is the wisest suggestion he has made yet. He tells them, just in case this is of God, then you are fighting against God and there is no way for you to win. One of the statements Jesus said to the disciples, when they tried to stop someone from ministering in Jesus' name is, don't do it.

Mark 9:39-40 "But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me." "For he that is not against us is on our part."

It would be well for all followers of Christ to remember this Scripture.

We should all be working together, not fighting each other.

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

"Beaten them": The apostles were unjustly flogged, probably with 39 lashes, the standard number given to avoid exceeding the Old Testament legal limit of 40 (Deut. 25:3).

If they truly agreed that these men might be of God, why did they beat them? They still commanded them not to speak in Jesus' name.

It seems to me that, they were still against them, even knowing that they might be of God. Somehow, I feel that their religious leaders knew all along that these apostles were of God. They were just jealous and were not willing to admit they were wrong.

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

This is such a far cry from what the Christians of today do. Christians now want everything to go perfectly for them. They are not interested in suffering for Christ at all. These early Christians wanted to be as near like Jesus as they could.

They were pleased to suffer for Him; He suffered first that they might be saved. They felt to suffer for Christ was an honor, not shame.

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

You can easily see that these apostles did not heed the command of the rulers of the temple. They obeyed God and not man. The church seems to always grow the most in times of persecution.

Acts Chapter 5 Second Continued Questions

1. What did these rulers want to do to the apostles?

2. What did cut to the heart mean?

3. Who stood up in the council to advise them?

4. What was he a doctor of?

5. What did he suggest to do with the apostles?

6. Why did they have respect for Gamaliel?

7. What warning did Gamaliel give in verse 35?

8. What was the name of the false leader mentioned in verse 36?

9. How many followers did he have?

10. What happened to his followers?

11. Who was Judas of Galilee?

12. What happened to his followers?

13. What kind of men were both of these men?

14. If these apostles are not of God, what will happen to their followers?

15. If it is God, what are these rulers actually doing?

16. Why did Jesus say not to stop someone ministering in His name?

17. What lesson should all denominations of Jesus' followers learn from this?

18. After they agreed with Gamaliel what did they do to the apostles?

19. What did they command them not to do?

20. What did the apostles rejoice about?

21. Where did the apostles preach daily?

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Acts 6

Acts Chapter 6

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

"When the number of disciples was multiplied" (see note on 4:4). The figure could have reached over 20,000 men and women.

"Grecians": They believed their widows were not receiving an adequate share of the food the church provided for their care (1 Tim. 5:3-16).

The "Grecians" were not Greeks but Hellenists who allowed Greek culture and language to influence their lives. For some reason Hellenistic "widows" were not receiving the same care as the other widows. The apostles have become overburdened serving "tables" (not waiting on, but dispensing communal funds), and seek others to assist them.

"Grecians ... Hebrews": "Hellenistic Jews" were Jews from the Diaspora; "Hebrews" were the native Jewish population of Palestine. The Hellenists' absorption of aspects of Greek culture made them suspect to the Palestinian Jews.

Though these seven are not deacons as such, that office later arises to meet similar needs (1Tim. 3:8-13). The biblical principles for the care of widows should not be seen merely from this historical incident. One must always look for the full teaching of the Scriptures. The apostle Paul provides extensive teaching on this subject (in 1 Tim. 5:3-16).

We see here, the church growing to a large number. As long as the church was small and they each were greatly needed, they were all pulling in one direction. They were working for a common cause. Now that the number has gotten so large, there is murmuring.

Some of the Greeks think the Hebrew widows are being cared for better than the Greeks. It seems that the early church was very concerned about the needs of widows. Many times, widows lived in the church and prayed for the church.

In (1 Timothy 5:9), Paul tells them to not take a widow under 60 years.

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

"Serve tables": The word translated "tables" can refer to tables used in monetary matters (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:15), as well as those used for serving meals. To be involved either in financial matters or in serving meals would take the 12 away from their first priority (see note on verse 4).

These twelve disciples who seemed to be the leaders of all the rest are explaining that they should not be encumbered by trying to see to the needs of all of these widows. The man or woman of God ministering has enough to do staying in the Word of God and bringing spiritual guidance to the people.

Someone else should see to the financial responsibilities of the church. If they had to stop and see to the physical needs of the people, they will not be able to care for their spiritual needs.

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

"Seven men": These were not deacons in terms of the later church office (1 Tim. 3:8-13), although they performed some of the same duties. Stephen and Philip (the only ones of the 7 mentioned elsewhere in Scripture), clearly were evangelists, not deacons.

Acts later mentions elders (14:23; 20:17), but not deacons. It seems, therefore, that a permanent order of deacons was not established at that time.

"Full of the Holy Ghost" (verse 5, see notes on 2:4).

Seven, as we have said before, means spiritually complete. We see that these seven were to be men who were very close to God. They must be wise men to take care of the finances of the body of Christ. They must be honest and of good report.

This is one of the Scriptures used when churches choose seven deacons to raise the finances of the church. Many people want to be a deacon of the church until they learn that the deacons are responsible for the financial needs of the church.

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

Prayer and the ministry of the Word (verse 2), define the highest priorities of church leaders.

The twelve apostles were not to be bothered with anything, except the spiritual needs of the people. Perhaps that is one of the problems in churches today.

We have made business men out of our ministers. They learn as much about the way to raise money, to have a bus ministry, and to satisfy the I.R.S. as they do about the Word of God. They should not be burdened with these administration duties. It takes too much of their time away from prayer and study of the Word.

Verses 5-7: The gracious nature of the early church is seen in its diligence and willingness to correct the irritation. This graciousness can be seen in that all seven men who are chosen have Greek names. The result: God prospers the work.

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

The seven men chosen by the church all had Greek names, implying they were all Hellenists. The church in a display of love and unity, may have chosen them to rectify the apparent imbalance involving the Hellenistic widows.

"They chose Stephen ... Nicolas": For Stephen's ministry (see 6:9 - 7:60). His martyrdom became the catalyst for the spread of the gospel beyond Palestine (8:1-4; 11:19).

Philip also played a key role in the spread of the gospel (8:4-24; 26-40). Nothing certain is known of the other five. According to some early traditions, Prochorus became the Apostle John's amanuensis when he wrote his gospel and Nicolas was a Gentile convert to Judaism from Antioch.

"Stephen" was one of the seven chosen to assist the apostles in the administrative affairs of the early Jerusalem church. His name and activities strongly suggest that he was not a Jew of the strictest Palestinian tradition, but a Hellenist. That is, he was one of those who accepted at least some Greek customs.

Among the seven, he seems to be noted for his outstanding character. He was full of the Spirit, faith, wisdom, and power. His career was brief but illustrious. He was a forceful apologist and a worker of miracles.

God's approval of Stephens' work was evident by the angelic countenance given to him (verse 15). Nevertheless, the Jews led by a young radical named Saul (later Paul), rejected his message and martyred him. Stephen is mentioned only (in Acts 6-8; 11:19; and 22:20). Of these seven of course, Stephen was the most known to us. These men were above reproach. They were men of high character. These men would be fair in all their dealings.

Proselyte means a new comer. In Hebrew, it meant stranger. Philip and Stephen are the only two out of the list that the Bible tells us anything else about. These are like many deeply sincere people in the church today who work in the background and do not feel the need to be recognized by others.

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

"When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them": This expression was used of Jesus when He healed (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40; 13:13; 28:8), and sometimes indicated being taken prisoner (5:18; Mark 14:46). In the Old Testament, offerors of the sacrifices laid their hands on the animal as an expression of identification (Lev. 8:14; 18:22; Heb. 6:2).

But in the symbolic sense, it signified the affirmation, support, and identification with someone and his ministry (see 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6; Num. 27:23).

This is just a ceremony to anoint these men to the job they are to do. They were installed formerly when the apostles laid hands on them.

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

One of Luke's periodic statements summarizing the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel (2:41, 47; 4:4; 5:14; 9:31; 12:24; 13:49; 16:5; 19:20).

"Great company of the priests": The conversion of large numbers of priests may account for the vicious opposition that arose against Stephen.

"Were obedient to the faith" (see note on Rom. 1:5).

We see here, that these apostles having their priorities straight caused the Word of God to increase greatly. A church is only as powerful as the prayers that go up for it. These apostles spent much time in prayer and their ministry was powerful because of it.

Disciples here, is the same as followers of Christ. This strong message of God's Word even convinced many of the priests and they believed also.

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

"Wonders and miracles" (see note on 2:19).

Notice, that Stephen was full of faith and power. This is saying that the power of the Holy Spirit was so great in Stephen, that the great wonders and miracles were a by-product of the power of God in him.

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

It seems that this verse describes 3 synagogues: The Synagogue of the Freedmen, a second composed of Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and a third composed of those from Cilicia and Asia. Cultural and linguistic differences among the 3 groups make it unlikely that all attended the same synagogue.

"Synagogue": These were meeting places which began in the intertestamental period where the dispersed Jews (usually Hellenists), who did not have temple access, could meet in their community to worship and read the Old Testament (see note on Mark 1:21).

"Libertines": Descendants of Jewish slaves captured by Pompeii (63 B.C.), and taken to Rome. They were later freed and formed a Jewish community there.

"Cyrenians": Men from Cyrene, a city in North Africa. Simon, the man conscripted to carry Jesus' cross, was a native of Cyrene (Luke 23:26).

"Alexandrians": Alexandria, another major North African city, was located near the mouth of the Nile River. The powerful preacher Apollos was from Alexandria (see note on 18:24).

"Cilicia and of Asia": Roman provinces in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Since Paul's hometown (Tarsus) was located in Cilicia, he probably attended this synagogue.

"Disputing with Stephen": The word translated "argued" signifies a formal debate. They no doubt focused on such themes as the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the Old Testament evidence that He was the Messiah.

The "Synagogue" was the assembly of the Jews like the Christian assembly, but founded before Christ. There evidently were synagogues in Jerusalem composed of various ethnic groups. The "Libertines" were slaves who had been freed along with their descendants. "Stephan" has an active ministry among these Hellenistic Jews.

It seems that there were many synagogues at this time. These different nationalities of people had their own synagogue, and that is why there are so many different names. These Libertines were Jews from Rome. The Cyrenians were from North Africa. Alexandrians were Jewish people from Alexandria and were very large in number.

Then there were also, some from Asia. Whether they did not hear, or whether they did not receive what they heard, is not explained. They just came against Stephen.

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

His (Stephen's), message was with power of the Holy Spirit. Stephen's message was so powerful that they could not overcome it.

Verses 6:11-13: Stephen is falsely accused of blaspheming in three areas:

(1) "God" (verse 11);

(2) "Moses" or "the law" (verses 11, 13); and

(3) The temple (verse 13).

Stephen answers these charges in his sermon.

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

"Blasphemous words against Moses and ... God": Unable to prevail over Stephen in open debate, his enemies resorted to deceit and conspiracy. As with Jesus (Matt. 26:59-61), they secretly recruited false witnesses to spread lies about Stephen. The charges were serious, since blasphemy was punishable by death (Lev. 24:16).

Suborn means to throw in stealthily or introduce by collusion. They had not heard Stephen blaspheme Moses or God, but said that to get Stephen in trouble.

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

They had lied about Stephen. Their accusations were untrue. He gave no resistance, so they caught Stephen and brought him before the religious rulers.

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

This is much like the accusers of Jesus. They have no reason to accuse Stephen of anything. The whole accusation was a lie.

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

"Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place": Another lie, since Jesus' words (John 2:19), referred to His own body (John 2:21).

The Law of Moses was the basis of worship in the temple and the synagogues. They themselves, had twisted the law until it was hardly recognizable. They had taken Stephen's message and twisted it into something ugly, instead of the beautiful message of promise that it was.

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

"Face of an angel": Pure, calm, unruffled composure, reflecting the presence of God (Exodus 34:29-35).

One of the laws of Moses said not to be a false witness. They were not concerned with Moses' law. They were just jealous. As they all looked at Stephen, they saw an inward light that made his face as the face of an angel. This should have told them who he was, but they ignored this. This light within him was the presence of the risen Christ.

Acts Chapter 6 Questions

1. When the number of disciples increased, what problem arose?

2. Who was the murmuring about?

3. What was the complaint?

4. Who did the twelve apostles call to discuss the problem with?

5. These twelve apostles' job was what?

6. How many men were chosen to take care of these needs?

7. What attributes did they have to have?

8. What two things did these 12 give themselves too continually?

9. What is one of the problems in churches today pertaining to the ministers?

10. What was Stephen full of?

11. What was the name of the only other man well known in the Bible?

12. What is a Hellenist?

13. What does proselyte mean?

14. When they set these seven before the apostles, what did the apostles do?

15. In verse 7, we learn that a great many of the _______ were obedient to the faith.

16. A church is only as powerful as what?

17. Disciples in verse 7 meant whom?

18. Stephen full of ______________________ and _________________, did great wonders.

19. What did these different names of synagogues mean?

20. What did they do with Stephen?

21. They were not able to resist what about Stephen?

22. What does suborn mean?

23. What did they say Stephen said about Moses?

24. Who did they stir up with these accusations?

25. What did the false witnesses say?

26. What lie did they tell in verse 14?

27. All that sat in the council saw Stephen's face as what?

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Acts 7

Acts Chapter 7

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

"High Priest" (see notes on 4:6). Probably Caiaphas (see note on John 18:13-14), who remained in office until A.D. 36.

"Are these things so": In modern legal terminology, "How do you plead?"

We see here, that this high priest began to question Stephen, and he was not expecting the answer he gave. He preaches to the high priest and rulers.

Verses 2-53: The theme of Stephens's speech concerns Israel's repeated rejection of God's messengers, despite God's grace. Using primarily "Joseph" and "Moses," Stephen shows how "Israel" rejected first their own brother Joseph (verse 9), then Moses as the deliverer (verse 27), and later Moses as the God appointed leader (verse 39).

It was the Sanhedrin and the nation, not Stephen, who blasphemed Moses (verse 37), and the Law (verse 53). Stephen, through indirect suggestion, shows that Christ has been rejected like Joseph and Moses. Such rebellion is not a characteristic of God's redeemed people.

Stephen's response does not seem to answer the High-Priest's question. Instead, he gave a masterful, detailed defense of the Christian faith from the Old Testament and concluded by condemning the Jewish leaders for rejecting Jesus.

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

"The God of glory": A title used only here and (in Psalm 29:3). God's glory is the sum of His attributes (see notes on Exodus 33:18-19).

"Abraham ... Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran":

God spoke to Abraham in Ur before he moved to Haran (Gen. 12:1; 15:7; Josh. 24:2-3; and Nehemiah 9:7).

We see here, that Stephen goes back to the call of Abraham, which all Israelites believe in.

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

Quoted from (Genesis 12:1).

They and the rulers know that every word he (Stephen), is saying about God appearing to Abraham and telling him to leave his homeland is true.

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

"Land of the Chaldaeans": Where Abraham's original home city or Ur was located (Gen. 11:28, 31; 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7).

"When his father was dead": At first glance (Gen. 11:26, 32 and 12:4), seem to indicate that Terah lived for 60 years after Abraham's departure from Haran. Terah was 70 when his first son was born (Gen. 11:26); Abraham was 75 when he left Haran (Gen. 12:4); Terah would have been 145); and Terah lived to be 205 (Gen. 11:32).

The best solution to this apparent difficulty is that Abraham was not Terah's firstborn son, but was mentioned first (Gen. 11:26), because he was most prominent. Abraham then, would have been born when Terah was 130.

We see in 4th verse, that Abraham was obedient to God and left his homeland. He stayed in Haran until his father died and then left there and came to the land that Jerusalem was now part of. Abraham had left a life of luxury and a big home and dwelt in tents. He was looking for a city whose maker was God.

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

Quoted from (Genesis 17:8; 48:4).

This message given by Stephen could not, and would not, be questioned to this point, because they knew it was absolute truth. Abraham had faith that all God said was truth and never questioned about his seed, even though at that moment he had none. He knew God would not lie and that it would come about just as God had said.

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

"Four hundred years" is the round number used (as in Gen 15:13-14), to express the 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:40).

Of course, they knew Stephen was speaking of the Hebrews being in Egypt 400 years and being slaves to this people.

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

Quoted from (Exodus 3:12).

This judgment spoken of here, was the ten plagues that came on Egypt to make Pharaoh let the people go. They did come to the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. They built the temple in Jerusalem and did worship God.

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

"Covenant of circumcision": Circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (see notes on Gen. 17:11).

"Twelve patriarchs": The 12 sons of Jacob, who became the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel (Gen. 35:22-26).

We see here also, that Stephen has not said one thing so far that they had not been taught from their youth. They believed every word. They were proud to be of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Acts 7:9-10 "And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him," "And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house."

They know that Joseph was truly made second in command in Egypt.

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

This of course, was speaking of the seven years of famine called dearth here.

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

We see here, the revealing to these leaders of the temple that Stephen knew the history of the Hebrew people from the training he had gotten in his Hebrew home. This story had been told over and over in Hebrew homes, how Joseph had saved his people when the famine came.

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

"Second time": Joseph revealed himself to his brother on their second trip to Egypt to buy grain (Gen. 43:1-3; 45:1-3).

He is relating how they first went and bought food not knowing that Joseph was their long gone brother. Finally, the famine became so bad, that all of Jacob's family had to go to Egypt to survive the famine.

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

"Jacob ... and all his kindred ... threescore and fifteen souls" (Genesis 46:26-27; Exodus 1:5; Deut. 10:22), give the figure as 70. However, the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), which as a Hellenist Stephen would have used. In (Gen. 46:27), reads "seventy-five". The additional 5 people were Joseph's descendants born in Egypt (see notes on Gen. 46:26-27).

The number 75 should not be seen in conflict with the Old Testament accounts (Genesis 46:26), identifies the number as 66, in referring to those who accompanied Jacob to Egypt.

Exodus 1:5 gives the number 70, but refers to all those who came out of Jacob's loins, including Joseph, his two sons, and Jacob himself. Stephen here includes within that number "all his kindred," totaling 75.

Seventy-five souls belonging to Jacob went into Egypt, (including Joseph and his family), and approximately three million came out.

Acts 7:15-16 "So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers," "And were carried over into Shechem, and laid in the sepulcher that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Shechem."

"He and our fathers ... laid in the sepulchre": "They" refers to Joseph (Jos. 24:32), and his brothers. But not Jacob, who was buried in Abraham's tomb at Machpelah (Gen. 50:13).

"The sepulcher that Abraham bought ... of Emmor ... of Shechem": (Joshua 24:32), states that Jacob bought this tomb, although Abraham had earlier built an altar at Shechem (Gen. 12:6-7), and probably purchased the land on which he built it. Abraham did not settle there, however, and the land apparently reverted to the people of Hamor.

Jacob then repurchased it from Shechem (Gen. 33:18-20), much like Isaac repurchased the well at Beersheba (Gen. 26:28-31), that Abraham had originally bought (Gen. 21:27-30). It's clear that Joseph was buried at Shechem as he requested (Gen. 50:25; Exodus 13:19; Jos. 24:32). The Old Testament does not record where Joseph's brothers were buried, but Stephen reveals it was in Shechem.

Here are some more important details that only a Hebrew would know. Jacob was not buried in Egypt, but near Jerusalem. To read more about all of this in detail, read the Genesis lessons.

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

God had promised Abraham that his seed would be so many they would be a multitude; in fact, so many that they would be as the sand of the sea.

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

"King ... knew not Joseph" (see note on Exodus 1:8).

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

"Cast out their young children": Only the male babies (Exodus 1:15-22).

This is when the Hebrew boy babies were to be killed at birth and thrown into the Nile River. This evil King took the Hebrews into bondage and used them for slave labor. They became afraid of the Hebrews, because they were multiplying so fast.

Verses 20-21: "Moses ... cast out": In God's providence, however, he was rescued by Pharaoh's daughter (see notes on Exodus 2:5-10).

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

In this time of upheaval, Moses was born.

Acts 7:21-22 "And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son." "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."

We see that God spared Moses for the purpose of delivering His people out of Egypt. His mother raised him for Pharaoh's daughter until he was weaned, then Moses was trained in the Egyptian schools as an Egyptian prince.

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

"He was full forty years old": Moses' life may be divided into three 40 year periods. The first 40 years encompassed his birth and life in Pharaoh's court; the second his exile in Midian (verses 29-30); and the third revolved around the events of the Exodus and the years of Israel's wilderness wandering (verse 36).

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

We see here that, Moses (trying to help the Hebrews), has caused problems for himself. Notice, that it wasn't an Egyptian who was telling on Moses, but his fellow Hebrews.

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

Even though Moses is an Egyptian prince, his nationality is Hebrew and the Pharaoh would not be pleased that a Hebrew (regardless of who he was), killed an Egyptian.

Acts 7:26-28 "And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?" "But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?" "Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday?

This was quoted from (Exodus 2:14).

Acts Chapter 7 Questions

1. What surprising answer did Stephen give the priest?

2. Who appeared to Abraham?

3. What did He tell Abraham to do?

4. When did Abraham leave Haran?

5. What had Abraham left to wander with God?

6. How many children did Abraham have when God promised to leave the land to his seed?

7. What did these Hebrew temple leaders know about Stephen's message?

8. How long would the Hebrew children sojourn in a strange land?

9. What was the strange land?

10. What covenant did God make with Abraham?

11. Who was the father of the twelve patriarchs?

12. What position did Joseph hold in Egypt?

13. What does dearth in verse 11 mean?

14. In verse 14, how many of Jacob's people, including Joseph and his family, went into Egypt?

15. Where was Jacob buried?

16. What had God promised Abraham?

17. When the new King of Egypt took over, what did he have the Hebrews to do with their boy babies?

18. Who raised Moses for her own son?

19. How old was Moses when he killed the Egyptian?

20. Who accused Moses of killing the Egyptian?

21. What did Moses do to keep Pharaoh from finding out?

Acts Chapter 7 Continued

In the last lesson, the leaders of the temple were questioning Stephen, and in answer, Stephen started relating the history of the Hebrew family as far back as Abraham. We closed out the last lesson where Moses had killed the Egyptian and had been found out.

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

"Fled ... Midian": Because he feared Pharaoh would learn of his killing of the Egyptian (verse 28), and view him as the leader of a Jewish rebellion.

"Two sons": Gershom (Exodus 2:22), and Eliezer (Exodus 18:4).

In this lesson, Stephen relates how Moses went to the desert, and walked across it. He met Zipporah, Jethro's daughter. Soon after, they were married. Moses spent forty years in Midian near Mt. Sinai. During his stay, he and Zipporah had two sons.

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

"Angel" (see note on Exodus 3:2).

"Mount Sinai": (see notes on Exodus 19:3-10).

This occurred when Moses was eighty years old. This is the burning bush that did not burn up.

Acts 7:31-32 "When Moses saw [it], he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold [it], the voice of the Lord came unto him," "[Saying], I [am] the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold."

(Quoted from Exodus 3:6, 15).

Stephen is giving to these Jewish leaders an even better detailed happening than perhaps, even they could have given. He explained to Moses that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Stephen explains here that Moses was frightened at the sight of God.

Acts 7:33 "Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou STANDEST IS HOLY GROUND."

(Quoted from Exodus 3:5).

This to me is one of the most important things for us to remember in our churches today. We take God far too casually. If we want the Lord to be with us in our services, we must keep it a holy place. Wherever God is, is holy ground.

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

(Quoted from Exodus 3:7-8).

Here, Stephen is reminding these Hebrews that once before God had heard their cries and sent them a deliverer to take them out of Egypt (type of the world). Jesus was a deliverer also. Jesus delivers all who will follow Him from a life of sin unto their own Promised Land (eternal life with Him).

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

"This Moses ... send to be a ruler and a deliverer": Thus, began Israel's long history of rejecting her God-sent deliverers (Matt. 21:33-46; 23:37).

"Who made thee" (quoted from Exodus 2:14.)

"Angel": The Angel of the Lord (verse 30; see note on Exodus 3:2).

We see that Moses was not only to deliver the Hebrews, but was also to rule over them as well. Moses' power was not his own. He was a very meek man. His power was that of God in him. God empowered Moses to do the things necessary to deliver the Hebrews.

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

"Wonders and signs": The 10 plaques in Egypt, and the miracles during the wilderness wandering (e.g., the parting of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:1-31); the miraculous provision of water at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1-7); and the destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Numbers 16:1-40; see note on 2:19).

We remember from our Exodus teaching that God brought them out with a mighty hand. God brought ten plagues on the Egyptians (demoting their worldly gods). Each plague showed the helplessness of an Egyptian god when facing the true God.

Three million (approximately), Hebrews walked through the Red sea on dry ground and all of the Egyptians chasing them were drowned. The miracle of the forty years was that God miraculously provided for them. Their shoes did not wear out in forty years.

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

"Prophet ... like unto me" (quoted from Deut. 18:15), this refers to the Messiah (John 1:21, 25; 6:14; 7:40).

Up until now, these leaders in the temple could not find anything wrong with what Stephen had said, because this is what they had been taught from their youth. Everything Stephen had said so far, was leading up to the next few verses. This, they will not accept.

This one, spoken of that would come from their brethren that they were to hear, is Jesus Christ the Messiah who they have rejected.

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

"Church in the wilderness": Israel (Exodus 12:3, 6, 19, 47; 16:1-2, 9-10; 17:1, 35:1; Lev. 4:13; 16:5; Num. 1:2; 8:9; 13:26; 14:2; Jos. 18:1).

"The angel ... in the mount Sinai": Most likely this is the Angel of the Lord (verses 30, 35), who was assisted by a multitude of angels (Deut. 33:3; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2; see note on verse 53).

"Lively oracles": The law given to Moses by God through the Angel of the Lord and a whole host of angels (Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23).

The reference to the gathering of the Israelites in the wilderness as a "church" is unfortunate. In Acts the Greek term (ekklesia), sometimes possesses its general sense of congregation or assembly. Here it is used for the gathering of the nation of Israel when it received the Law.

In (Acts 19), it is used of the town meeting of the unbelieving mob of Ephesus (verses 32, 39, 41). The 111 other occurrences of the word refer to the church of Jesus Christ.

You see, Jesus Christ the Lord was actually the doer part of the Godhead. I use the Scripture in John so much, but it tells it just like it is.

John 1:3, "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made."

In the verse above, we see that it was actually Jesus Christ (Word), who put the Ten Commandments on the stone. JESUS IS THE WORD. He is the written Word and the spoken Word.

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

"Would not obey": Israel rejected Moses' leadership and longed to return to slavery in Egypt (Num. 11:5).

They soon forgot the mighty works of God in bringing them out of Egypt. As we have said so many times, Egypt is a type of the world. Stephen said here that they had turned back to the world (Egypt), in their hearts.

Jesus says your heart will be judged. They are guilty of turning from the true God back to a sinful world life style. So many people are like this today. They walk with God, but when He delays His coming, many go back into a worldly life.

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

"Make us gods": A man-made representation of a false god (Exodus 32:1-5), which was forbidden (Exodus 20:4; quoted from Exodus 32:1, 23).

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

"A calf" (see note on Exodus 32:4).

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

"God ... gave them up" (quoted from Amos 5:25-27). Judicially abandoning the people to their sin and idolatry (Hosea 4:17; see notes on Rom. 1:24, 26, 28).

"The host of heaven': Israel's idolatrous worship of the sun, moon, and stars began in the wilderness and lasted through the Babylonian captivity (Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3-5; 23:4; 2 Chron. 33:3, 5; Jer. 8:2; 19:13; Zeph. 1:5).

This has to do with the Scriptures in Amos, which say, because of their unfaithfulness to God while Moses was on the mountain, God would not accept their burnt offerings to Him (read Amos 5:25-27). This star in Amos mentioned, is perhaps Saturn.

This speaks of God's great displeasure with the Israelites worshipping false gods. It also teaches against astrology. God allowed them to wander forty years in the wilderness, until the old ones died off and a new generation came on.

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

"Babylon": Amos wrote Damascus (Amos 5:27), while Stephen said Babylon. Amos was prophesying the captivity of the northern kingdom in Assyria, a deportation beyond Damascus. Later the southern kingdom was taken captive to Babylon. Stephen, inspired to do so, extended the prophecy to embrace the judgment on the whole nation summarizing their idolatrous history and its results.

"Moloch" or Molech is a Canaanite title for deities to whom human fiery sacrifices were offered (Lev. 18:21; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35).

"Remphan" or Rephan probably comes from the Egyptian name for the god associated with the planet Saturn.

The children of Israel would not get out of one mess until they were worshipping some other god. Moloch was just one of the false gods they worshipped. This Moloch here, is the same as Molech in the Old Testament. In (Leviticus 18:21), we read a direct quote where God told them not to worship Moloch,

"And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord."

You see, God is a jealous God. He will not allow His people to worship other gods. We see (in verse 43), that the very reason they were captured and sent to Babylon was because they worshipped other gods.

All that we can find about Remphan is that it was an idol. We may not call our false gods by these names, but there are plenty of them around today, as well. God is still jealous and will not allow us to hold anything or anyone (even ourselves), ahead of Him.

Acts Chapter 7 Continued Questions

1. What land did Moses flee to?

2. How many sons were born to him there?

3. What was the name of Moses' wife?

4. Who was her father?

5. What mount was nearby?

6. How many years did Moses live here?

7. Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush?

8. Who did the voice in the bush say He was?

9. Who were the three Old Testament Patriarchs named?

10. Why was Moses to take off his shoes?

11. What had God heard that caused Him to send a deliverer to His people?

12. What is Egypt symbolic of?

13. In what way was Moses like Jesus?

14. Where did Moses' strength come from?

15. How did Moses bring them out?

16. What did the ten plagues do, besides free the Israelites?

17. What miraculous thing happened at the Red sea?

18. What miraculous thing occurred with what they were wearing the forty years??

19. Who had prophesied and called Jesus a Prophet?

20. Who received the lively oracles?

21. Who put the Ten Commandments on the stone?

22. Jesus is the __________ Word and _________ Word.

23. What evil thing did the people talk Aaron into doing?

24. In what Old Testament prophetic Book do we find that God refuses to accept their sacrifices because of their false gods?

25. Which does God teach against; astronomy or astrology?

26. Who was the false god in verse 43?

27. Remphan was what?

28. God is a __________ God.

Acts Chapter 7 Second Continued

Verses 44-50: To counter the false charge that he blasphemed the temple (6:13-14), Stephen recounted its history to show his respect for it.

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

"Tabernacle of witness": The predecessor of the temple (Exodus 25:8-9, 40).

We see in this an explanation that Moses did not build the tabernacle to suit himself, but actually got exact instructions from God while he was on the mount just how to build it. God really gave Moses a look (vision), of the tabernacle in heaven, which this was to be patterned by.

Acts 7:45-46 "Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;" "Who found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob."

We see that God was with the Hebrews. When the Ark of the Covenant was with them, the enemy fled before it. God was fighting their battles for them. This moveable ark was brought into the Promised Land and King David desired to build a permanent temple for the Ark and a Place to worship.

David was a warrior and God would not let him build it. His son Solomon (a man of peace), built the permanent structure of the place to worship and meet God.

Acts 7:47-48 "But Solomon built him a house." "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,"

"Most High": A common Old Testament title for God (Gen. 14:18-20, 22; Num. 24:16; Deut. 32:8; 2 Sam. 22:14; Psalms 7:17; 9:2; 18:13; 21:7; 73:11; 87:5; 91:1; 107:11; Isa. 14:14; Lam. 3:35, 38; Dan. 4:17, 24-25, 32, 34; 7:25).

Verses 49-50 (quoted from Isa. 66:1-2). Stephen's point is that God is greater than the temple, and thus the Jewish leaders were guilty of blaspheming by confining God to it.

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

This is speaking of the omnipresence of God. He can be everywhere all at the same time. In fact, the entire earth could not hold Him. No mere building can hold all of God. We learn in the Revelation teaching that the Spirit of God is in all churches that bear His name.

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

We see again here, that God created everything. In Genesis, we know that God spoke the whole universe into existence. We learn in John chapter 1, that the Word (Creator God), was the very same one that came to earth and dwelt among us.

Notice in verse 50 above, "my hand" Jesus (the Word; Creator God), is the Right hand of God. He not only sits at the right hand of the Father; He is in fact the Right Hand.

Verses 51-53: The climax of Stephen's sermon indicted the Jewish leaders for rejecting God in the same way that their ancestors had rejected Him in the Old Testament.

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

"Stiffnecked": Obstinate, like their fathers (Exodus 32:9; 33:5).

"Uncircumcised in heart and ears": Thus as unclean before God as the uncircumcised Gentiles (see notes on Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:28-29).

"Resist the Holy Ghost": By rejecting the Spirit's messengers and their message. Jesus' sermon (in Matt. 23:13-39).

You see, Stephen was speaking to men who were circumcised in the flesh. These were men who had been circumcised in the flesh on the eighth day in keeping with the Abrahamic covenant. The problem was that they knew God in formality and had never received Him into their heart. They had ears, but could not hear, and they had eyes, but they could not see.

Stephen tells them that they were like their fathers. They were very technical about the law, but they closed themselves off and did not know the Lawgiver. They had a religion of the flesh and not the spirit. We see the extreme boldness of Stephen in the next verse.

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

"The Just One" (see note on 3:14).

To these religious rulers, this was about the worst accusation that Stephen could make. They prided themselves in keeping the law. We know that many of the prophets had been killed for the truth in the Bible.

Isaiah, we are told by historians, was sawed in half. Daniel faced the lions in the den. Elijah fought the prophets of Baal. These great prophets got very little help from the rulers in the temple.

Acts 7:53 "Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it]."

"Law by the disposition of angels" (see Deut. 33:2; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2). Scripture does not delineate their precise role in the giving of the law, but clearly states the fact of their presence.

Many times, the prophets even spoke out against the religious rulers and were persecuted by the rulers of the temple. Stephen tells them, you never did truly understand the law and You have certainly not kept it.

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

"Gnashed on him with their teeth": In anger and frustration (Psalms 35:16; 37:12; Matt. 8:11-12; 13:41-42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).

Down deep in their heart, they knew that what Stephen had said was true.

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

"Full of the Holy Ghost" (see note on 2:4).

"The glory of God": Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-3; Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:26-28); Paul (2 Cor. 12:2-4); and John (Rev. 1:10), also received visions of God's glory in heaven.

"On the right hand of God": Jesus is frequently so depicted (2:34; Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Luke 22:69; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:11-12; 12:2).

We see here, that Stephen not only felt the Presence of the Holy Ghost, but was empowered from on high and filled with the Holy Ghost. Stephen was so filled that all scales were removed from his eyes, and he looked into heaven, and saw the throne of God, and the glory of God on that throne.

There is much controversy about Stephen seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Jesus ordinarily is seated at the right hand of God, because His work is finished, but I believe He was standing to greet Stephen and welcome him to heaven. Stephen had no fear of what they could do to him here on the earth. He knew his home was in heaven.

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

"Son of man" (see note on Dan. 7:13-14).