BIBLE IN TEN
The first 60 episodes are from portions of Genesis. Since Feb 2021 we began a daily commentary in the the book of Acts since it is certain that almost all major theological errors within the church arise by a misapplication, or a misuse, of the book of Acts. If the book is taken in its proper light, it is an invaluable tool for understanding what God is doing in the redemptive narrative in human history. If it is taken incorrectly, failed doctrine, and even heretical ideas, will arise (and consistently have arisen) within the church. Let us consider the book of Acts in its proper light. In doing so, these errors in thinking and theology will be avoided. The book of Acts is comprised of 28 chapters of 1007 verses (as in the NKJV). Therefore, a daily evaluation of Acts, one verse per day, will take approximately 2.76 years to complete.
17 hours ago
17 hours ago
Sunday, 5 February 2023
But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. Acts 14:4
After the Jews poisoned the minds of the brethren, the previous verse noted that Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium for a long time speaking boldly. Along with their words, the Lord granted them signs and wonders to be done by their hands. With that, it next says, “But the multitude of the city was divided.”
The Greek word is schizó, a schism. This shows that the signs and wonders were not enough to convince those who simply refused to believe. And more, those who believed did so based on hearing the word of God, as Acts 14:1 plainly noted –
“Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.”
It is obvious that the signs and wonders, then, were given to edify those who believed but they were as a sign to those who did not believe, something that actually hardened their hearts as it was with Pharaoh in Egypt and as is seen elsewhere. This is what Paul poignantly indicates in 1 Corinthians 11 –
“Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 11:22-25
Because of the faith of those who believed, and because of the hardness of those who refused to believe, “part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.” This is not at all unlike what will occur in Thessalonica –
“And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. 5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” Acts 17:4, 5
The Jews have a knack for placing themselves carefully within a society in order to influence its workings. This is not just in the times of ancient Rome, but it has continued, even until today. As Lionel Blue said, “Jews are just like everyone else, only more so.” In other words, whatever they put their hand to, it will be just like others, but with a boost of steroids added in. This trait resulted in their ability to divide Iconium, and it was based on their rejection of the name of Jesus. It was a division that began in their own land as He walked among them –
“So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.” John 7:43, 44
Life application: There are innumerable people who believe that God continues to provide signs and wonders in the world today, coming to people in their sleep and telling them they need Jesus, or appearing to people in the deep recesses of the jungle and telling them that missionaries are coming who need to be listened to.
These stories are as common as lies from the left, but are they based on reality? It has been clearly shown that the signs and wonders that Paul and Barnabas exhibited did not convert the Jews, nor did they convert the Gentiles who sided with the Jews. Rather, they are a sign to them and will stand as a testimony against them. But those who believed did so based on the word of God that was spoken to them.
This is exactly how Paul says people are converted today. Sharing the gospel and the word is the means, the mode, and the method by which man can be saved. The Bible, the word of God expressed on pages of paper stamped with ink, is the sign to the world that condemnation already exists in humanity. It is the word that documents how we got in this mess, it is the word that explains what God has been doing to get us out of it, and it is the word that reveals His coming in human flesh in the Person of Jesus to make it possible for man to be saved.
To claim that God is going around His completed word to effect His purposes is self-defeating. It means that the very purpose that the word was compiled for isn’t effective in accomplishing what it was intended to do. Those who spread these falsities diminish the work of God in Christ, they diminish the work of God through the word, and they are trusting in the words of man rather than the words of God. It is not a good place to be.
All men, saved and unsaved, will stand before God for judgment. Those who are unsaved will have the Bible to speak against them. Those who are saved will have the Bible to judge their faith and their deeds. On that day, the word of God alone will be the standard. Why would anyone believe that it is any different now? Have faith in the word, speak out the word, and share the gospel with those who are perishing. God has chosen this method for man to be saved. Trusting that He will show up in someone’s sleep is simply punting to Him the ball you should be carrying.
O God, help us to think clearly about how we handle Your word and what our responsibilities are in relation to it. Help us not to get drawn into the lies and deceit of those who make things up out of their own heads. Instead, help us to have confidence in Your word and to stand on it as it is written. In this, we will be effective in doing what You have instructed us to do. Amen!
2 days ago
2 days ago
Saturday, 4 February 2023
Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 14:3
In the previous verse, it noted that the Jews of Iconium stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned the minds of the brethren. With that, Luke continues with the words, “Therefore they stayed there a long time.”
Unlike in Antioch of Pisidia, it appears the Jews in Iconium were not as quickly riled up as those in Antioch. And so, Paul and Barnabas stayed. These Gentiles had believed (Acts 14:1). As such, they were counted as saved and in need of proper instruction and discipleship, just as the Lord had instructed. Without being threatened, they stayed and provided just that.
It is certain that if they were expelled, but a church had been set up first, Paul would have written to them instead. This is what happened in Galatia, for example. The Judaizers went in and poisoned the minds of the believers. Because of this, Paul wrote to them words of correction. It also will happen in Antioch of Syria in Acts 15. In that case, a council will be held to resolve the matter. No matter what, Paul did his utmost to ensure that those he evangelized received proper instruction. As for their time in Iconium, Paul and Barnabas were “speaking boldly in the Lord.”
The Greek reads epi, or “upon the Lord.” Their words were reliant upon the Lord. The word translated as “speaking boldly” has only been seen thus far in Acts 9:27-29 when referring to the words of Paul –
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.”
The word signifies to be frank and confident in what is said. This would obviously be the case if they were reliant upon the Lord for their words. It was as if the Lord was speaking through them. This is poignantly seen in the next words, “who was bearing witness to the word of His grace.”
The words are in the singular and the reference is to Jesus. The Greek literally reads, “the [One] testifying upon the word of the grace of Him.” Paul and Barnabas were reliant upon the Lord and so the Lord testified through His word of grace. That testifying was accomplished by “granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
This was for the set purpose of establishing the truth of the gospel among these believers because their minds had been poisoned by the Jews. The Lord promised that His apostles would be given everything they needed to accomplish their task. The book of Acts bears this out. When it was necessary to establish their authority or to continue their work, the Lord worked miracles through them. But this was not an authority that came at their will. Instead, it came from His.
In the case of those at Iconium, there was a need for this to come about, and the Lord worked accordingly, validating the ministry of Paul and Barnabas and the reliability of His word as expressed through them.
Life application: Notice that the words above say that the Lord was “granting signs and wonders to be done.” There are times when the apostles healed or raised the dead. And there were times when they could not do these things. The gifts were at the will of the Lord, and they came to provide validation of the work of the Lord or the fact that His word was being properly expressed through these apostles.
Today, this type of thing is wholly unnecessary. There is no need for a validation of the Lord because the word of the Lord has been given. It would be contradictory to both the word and to the process of salvation, which is by grace through faith, to provide such things today.
There is also no need for a validation of the veracity of a ministry or a preacher today. The word provides for those things as well. If those who are listening to a teacher or preacher want to know if what they are hearing is true or not, they simply need to go to the word and study up.
Unfortunately, that takes time, effort, and contemplation. These are things that people do not want to give. It demonstrates a failing in the hearer, not in the process as given by the Lord. It is so much easier to say, “I got a sign from the preacher,” or “I received a prophetic word from Pastor Providence.” That is easy, it takes any burden off the individual, and life can go on in ignorant bliss.
But, again, this is contradictory to the word itself. Those who believe the Lord is working in miracles, signs, and wonders today have failed to think through the process of what God is doing in the world. Why would He give his word just to go around the word He has given? He would not. There is a purpose for these demonstrations of His workings in redemptive history and they find their end in the completed canon of Scripture, the Holy Bible. Learn the word and you will do well, avoiding the pitfalls and traps that have brought harm to innumerable souls.
Thank You for Your word, O God. It is just what we need to convey the message of the gospel to the world, and it is fully sufficient to do so. You are working through people who are willing to expend themselves for this purpose and You are validating Your presence among those who believe through the word You have provided. What more do we need to accomplish this awesome task? Only for You to be with us in the process. And we know You are. Your word tells us it is so. Amen.
3 days ago
3 days ago
Friday, 3 February 2023
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Acts 14:2
Paul and Barnabas are in Iconium, having gone together to the synagogue of the Jews. In speaking there, it said in the previous verse that a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed. Now, the narrative continues, saying, “But the unbelieving Jews.”
The word translated as “unbelieving” is apeitheó. It signifies “to refuse to be persuaded.” It is, therefore, the withholding of belief. It is a word that is often translated as disobedient. But in the case of the word of the Lord, the two thoughts are really synonymous. To not believe the word of the Lord is to be disobedient to the word of the Lord, even if there is no command involved. This is because the word of the Lord is fixed.
If something is certain to be the word of the Lord, such as the message Paul and Barnabas are conveying, then to not believe is to disobey. To believe, but not act is also to disobey. To believe and to act is to be obedient. If something is presented which is not the word of the Lord, the Book of Mormon, for example, to believe is to be disobedient to the Lord.
The parameters are already set, such as Galatians 1:6-8. There, we have been told that any other gospel than the one preached by the apostles, and which is now recorded in Scripture, is anathema. Therefore, we are to reject it. In the case of these Jews in Iconium, they have heard the true gospel and they have been disobedient by not believing it. Because of this, they “stirred up the Gentiles.”
Here is a word used for the second and last time in Scripture, epegeiró. It signifies “to rouse upon.” In other words, their influence is used upon the minds of the people to stir them up against the message that has been conveyed. The only other time it was used was in Acts 13:50 where the same thing occurred –
“But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up [epegeiró] persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.”
The apostles gained a foothold among the Gentiles through the presentation of the gospel, and the Jews – probably out of jealousy – then troubled the minds of the Gentiles, twisting the words of Scripture against the truth. As it next says, “and poisoned their minds.”
The word translated as “poisoned” signifies “to harm.” The Jews damaged the minds of the Gentiles. They had believed and then they were told what they believed was false. This is just what Paul writes about in 1 Thessalonians 2 –
“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
In that case, they forbid Paul and his companions from speaking to the Gentiles. In this case, they have called into question what was spoken to the Gentiles. But the same attitude is behind both. As for the poisoning of the minds of the Gentiles, Luke next records that it is “against the brethren.”
The attack is personal. Rather than directly attacking the message, they have maligned the integrity of the believers in some way. Maybe they said they were unqualified. Maybe they said they were heretics. Whatever personal attacks were levied against them. The next verse will show that the Lord was with them. He was there to defend the word that was being carried by His apostles.
Life application: Nothing has changed in the past two millennia. There are those who attack those who carry the true gospel, and there are those that defend it. Sometimes, it is necessary to include a verbal attack against the false teacher as well, explaining why the person is not to be trusted. In such cases, that attack should be based upon a deviation from the word.
In other words, an unjustified attack is known as an ad hominem fallacy. The words mean “to the man.” Such attacks are directed at the person instead of their doctrine. This is improper. One might say, “Pastor DominicJoe is a false teacher. He lives in a million-dollar house and drives a Mercedes Benz.”
Those things are irrelevant. They say nothing about the doctrine of the person. Unless the amount of wealth a person has or the lifestyle he leads is somehow connected to his false teaching, it is simply a red herring intended to harm the person without any reason behind it. However, if the doctrine of Pastor DominicJoe is incorrectly centered on money to make him rich, and if that can be substantiated, then calling this out is justified. All such things must be based on the word. If they are, then what is wrong is properly highlighted.
This was seen in the previous chapter where Luke recorded that “the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city.” He was highlighting that the intent of the Jews was to maintain control over the wealth and influence of these people. From the context, it can be inferred that they already had this control, and they simply didn’t want to lose it.
Have care in how you deal with such things. Once one enters into fallacious attacks or diversions, the argument is tainted. Ask yourself, “Does this have any bearing on the word?” If it does not, do not bring it up, or do not allow it to affect you if others have brought it up.
Lord God, help us to think clearly and rationally as we evaluate Your word and how it is presented by others. Also, help us to rightly defend it, not getting caught up in improper discussions or misdirection away from what is right. May we consider all things in light of what You have presented in Your word, allowing it to be the standard for our thoughts and conduct. Amen.
4 days ago
4 days ago
Thursday, 2 February 2023
Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. Acts 14:1
Paul and Barnabas had been expelled from the region of Antioch of Pisidia. Following that, they went to Iconium. With that remembered, Luke next records, “Now it happened in Iconium.” The distance from Antioch of Pisidia to Iconium is about 100 miles. It is apparent that once there, they immediately sought out the next place to spread the message of the coming of Christ because it next says, “that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews.”
The first and most obvious thing to discern from this is that the words of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:46 were not stated concerning the future after leaving Antioch –
“It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”
Rather, they meant that they would turn to the Gentiles in that area and have nothing further to do with evangelizing the Jews at the synagogue in Antioch. Paul’s first evangelism, wherever he went, was to the Jews. His ministry to the Gentiles is one of predominant focus, not exclusivity. His first attempt, however, was to convince the Jews of the coming of their Messiah in the coming of Jesus.
Going to the synagogue was a logical place to start their efforts because there were both Jews and Gentiles who gathered there. This was seen at the synagogue of Antioch, and it will be the case again in Iconium in the words which begin with, “and so spoke that a great multitude.”
Iconium, being a sizeable city, obviously had a large synagogue. It was a marvelous place to first herald to the people the good news about Jesus. And even if many Jews rejected the message, it would still be heard by the proselytes who attended. From there, they could pass the word to others in the Gentile community. This is obvious because the great multitude was comprised “both of the Jews and of the Greeks.”
The Greek is simpler, saying, “both of Jews and Greeks.” The term “great multitude” may indicate that before the Sabbath Paul and Barnabas had already started to evangelize whoever they came across, telling them to come to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Or it may be that there were often a large number of Greeks who attended. Either way, the effect of their words was that a great multitude of both Jews and Gentiles “believed.”
This is the standard word used throughout the New Testament to indicate saving faith in the gospel, pisteuó. Among seemingly innumerable other times, it was used by Jesus in John 3:16. It is what is said of the believers in Acts 2:44, Acts 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and so on. It is the word of saving faith of Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 15:2 & 11, and Ephesians 1:13.
Because of this, there is absolutely no reason to suggest that the word means anything other than “belief unto salvation” for those Jews and Greeks now being referred to. A few points about this are necessary to understand the importance of the event –
The message spoken by Paul and Barnabas was the gospel and its effects were exactly the same for Jews and for Gentiles, meaning belief.
Like in Antioch of Pisidia, there is no record of tongues or other signs having come upon the believers.
Baptism is not mentioned here or in Antioch, showing that it is not a necessary part of salvation. And yet, it would be an argument from silence to say that the new believers were not baptized. It would be a false inference.
These and other points of doctrine are clear indicators that the continued record of Acts is a descriptive account of what occurred. Not everything that happened is recorded, but those things that are recorded are there to reveal truths about the effectiveness of the gospel alone to save.
Further, the events are not normative. If they were, for example, it would be required for every evangelist who entered a new city to go to the local synagogue in order to speak to the Jews. That cannot be inferred from the narrative, nor would it be logical to make this conclusion. Further, the epistles say nothing of such an approach.
Life application: Quite often, what is not said in an account can teach us as much as what is said. Nothing that is essential for doctrine will be left out, but not everything left out is necessarily unimportant.
As noted above, there is nothing about baptism or speaking in tongues recorded here. It simply says that Paul and Barnabas spoke. and the people believed. This is perfectly in accord with Paul’s words elsewhere in the epistles, such as “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
It is faith that saves. If speaking in tongues was a necessary proof of salvation, it would be incompetent of Luke to not record tongues being spoken in each instance of salvation recorded in Acts. But he only records such signs at key points in the ongoing narrative. This is true with baptism as well.
Despite this, the requirement to be baptized as spoken forth by Jesus does not need to be recorded unless it is a formal part of the salvific process. As it is not always recorded, it is obviously not. And yet, the absence of recording the event does not mean that it did not happen. Rather, it can be assumed that it did because it was a command of the Lord. This is no different than the absence of recording the taking of the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is commanded by the Lord, and it was practiced by Paul constantly, as can be inferred from his words in 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26. And yet, it is never mentioned in Acts. Hence, it is a command of the Lord that was obviously carried out by Paul among his converts, and yet it is not something that necessarily needs to be highlighted.
Consider these things and ponder what God is doing, why certain things are recorded regularly, why things are only highlighted at certain times, and why some important things are not even mentioned. Remember that Jesus’ commands are applicable to all when they are spoken in the proper context, such as the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Remember that the epistles set forth doctrine for the church. Also remember that Acts is a descriptive account that forms a normative practice at times, but not at all times. As such, care must be taken to know when things logically follow and when they do not.
Lord God, help us to think clearly about how You have presented Your word. May we consider what You are saying and why You are saying it. Also, help us to overcome our biases and presuppositions so that we will be properly grounded in what is right. May Your hand guide us in such matters, and may You be glorified through our lives as they adhere to Your word. Amen.
5 days ago
5 days ago
Wednesday, 1 February 2023
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52
In the previous verse, Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust from their feet” against those who expelled them from the region. They were now set to continue elsewhere with the evangelization of those they encountered, but they had made a life-changing difference in many while in the region of Pisidia, as testified to in the final words of Chapter 13 which begin with, “And the disciples.”
This is not referring to Paul and Barnabas but to the converts in the area, both Jew and Gentile. The word translated as “disciples” is mathétés. It signifies a learner or a disciple. It is thus not referring to Paul and Barnabas who provided the instruction, but to those who received it. That it is a word that refers to both Jews and Gentiles is most poignantly revealed in Acts 15. There, when referring specifically to the Gentiles, it says –
“Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples [mathétés] which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.’” Acts 15:6-11
The noun mathétés is not used after Acts 21, but the verb from which it is derived, manthanó, is used by Paul in nine of his epistles. If one learns, he is a disciple. The idea is that those now referred to by Luke are those in the region of Antioch of Pisidia, both Jews and Gentiles, that had received the gospel of Jesus Christ. With that noted, Luke records that they “were filled with joy.”
This is the exhortation Paul will later write to those in Thessalonica and elsewhere, saying, “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). These disciples apparently didn’t need the exhortation but were simply filled with joy because of the freedom they now found by being in Christ. Along with that, Luke completes the verse and the chapter, saying, “and with the Holy Spirit.”
Again, this is as stated elsewhere by Paul, such as –
“Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:16, 17
As for the whole thought of being “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit,” the verb is both imperfect and it is in the passive or middle voice. The meaning is that they were filled and continued to be filled (the imperfect tense) and they were both agents of the action and yet concerned with the action (middle voice).
In other words, the Spirit acted upon them as they interacted with God through the knowledge they possessed. The joy and the filling came about by the mutual relationship that was occurring in their lives.
Life application: Why is it that we may be lacking joy and the filling of the Spirit? It is because we have lost focus on what it means to be saved. When we are saved, at that moment in time, it becomes the main issue of our life. We let go of our sin, acknowledging it before God and placing it on Christ. The burden and the debt were lifted from us, and we experienced the knowledge that God had done this for us, apart from any effort.
That brought the joy and the filling of the Spirit. Eventually, we allowed this current life to overtake our thoughts. We struggle at work, we fight with family or friends, our faithful dog dies, or we have our car repossessed. In this, we are no longer filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it is no longer the central focus of our existence. This is not how our life is to be conducted.
Rather, the most important event in our life occurred the moment we came to Jesus. Since that time, and forevermore, nothing will come to pass that can exceed the weight and marvel of what took place. The problem isn’t that the moment is over and gone forever. Rather, our focus has turned from that key and pivotal event.
Instead of having the attitude that existed then, our eyes, our attention, and thus our lives are redirected to that which is of less value, and we are consumed by the world once again. Rather than, “Work is such a burden, but it is nothing compared to Jesus,” we collapse under our own misery.
Rather than, “My wife says she is leaving me, but Jesus will never leave nor forsake me,” we have placed this temporary and earthly relationship above the Lord. Rather than, “I miss Fido so much, but Jesus gave him to me for a span and I am so grateful for those years,” our thoughts are consumed with this loss as if the dog is more important than the relationship we have with God in Christ. This is true with any earthly relationship or possession.
The key to joy is not focusing on what this world offers, no matter how great it was or how great it might be. The key to the joy the Bible speaks of is to know that God saved us, He is there with us, and we are guaranteed to have a restoration that is beyond anything we can imagine at this point. God has done it, God is with us now as we await its completion, and God will bring us to that state of completion, without fail.
This is the heart of joy in the Lord. And this is why so many Christians are so miserable in their walk with Him. They either have had their eyes redirected from what Jesus has done, or they believe that what Jesus has done is conditional. Who can have joy and be filled with the Holy Spirit at such times? Rather, FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS and be ASSURED OF YOUR SALVATION because the word assures you of it. Be FILLED WITH JOY AND WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT all your days. To the glory of God who is with you as you continue this walk to glory.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for diverting our eyes from Jesus and looking back to this temporary, fallen, and even dirty existence. We have the purity of Christ before us, and yet we cling to that which is hopeless and miserable. And, Lord God, forgive us for questioning Your word and the salvation that You have granted to us. It is no longer about us, but about Jesus, when we call out to You through Him. Forgive us for such a faithless attitude. Redirect us and reassure us and we will be sound in Christ once again. Amen.
6 days ago
6 days ago
Tuesday, 31 January 2023
But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. Acts 13:51
In the last verse, Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the region of Antioch of Pisidia. With that, Luke next records, “But they shook off the dust from their feet.”
This was obviously a way of demonstrating their displeasure with those who had expelled them, revealing that even the dust on the apostles’ feet that was associated with those of Antioch was detestable. It is what Jesus instructed His apostles in Israel to do, if necessary, while proclaiming the kingdom of God, as is testified to in the gospels –
“Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:4, 5
This is recorded in Matthew and Mark as well. Matthew’s words explain the matter further –
“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:11-15
Quite often, this act of Paul and Barnabas is directly associated with the words of the Lord in those gospel passages, such as –
“The act was one of literal obedience to our Lord’s commands (see Note on Matthew 10:14), and may fairly be regarded as evidence that that command had come to the knowledge of Paul and Barnabas as well as of the Twelve.” Charles Ellicott
Actually, there is nothing to suggest this, for several reasons. One is that if this was “literal obedience to the Lord,” then other such instances where they failed to do this would be considered “literal disobedience to the Lord.” Further, the surrounding context of Jesus’ words demonstrates that this was never to be taken as a command during the church age, such as other words found in Matthew 10, and which are also summed up in the other gospels as well –
“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.’” Matthew 10:5-10
If Paul and Barnabas were following the command of the Lord from the gospels, they would not have been going to the Gentiles, they would not have been carrying money, which they obviously did in order to sail on ships, etc. Rather, Jesus’ words were to the twelve apostles and were directed to the ministry within Israel while still under the law.
With Jesus’ work completed, a new dispensation had entered. The shaking of dust off of their feet was obviously a sign that was known and practiced at the time and which Jesus directed his apostles to employ for those who saw them do it as a witness against them. The same is true with Paul and Barnabas. This is all the more evident because, in Acts 18, Paul uses a different method of employing the same general thought –
“When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” Acts 18:5, 6
This was a similar sign of displeasure that was directed to his Jewish audience. It was something they would have fully understood from their own Scriptures –
“Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. 13 Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, ‘So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.’” Nehemiah 5:12, 13
If Jesus’ words were still in effect, Paul and Silas would have needed to shake the dust off of their feet at that time as well. But this is the only instance in Acts where this is recorded. The use of such gestures is simply a way of demonstrating frustration at the circumstances that have arisen. In this case, it was shaking off the dust of the feet “against them,” meaning the Jews, the devout and prominent women, and the chief men of the city mentioned in the previous verse.
Of this, Ellicott rightly says, “It was in itself, however, the language of a natural symbolism which every Jew would understand.” Even more, anyone – Jew or Gentile – would understand with only a moment of thought.
If this were a sign as commanded by the Lord, it would then include all of the inhabitants of the city as noted in the Matthew citation above. But the city was also filled with new believers. The action was not directed against them. It was merely an open gesture of displeasure to those who had been so rude to them. With that, it next says that they “came to Iconium.”
The name in Greek is Ikonion. Strong’s supposes the name is derived from eikon, meaning “image,” and thus it means “Image like.” On the other hand, John Gill says –
“It was called by the Syrians, ‘Ik-ona’, which signifies ‘the bosom of sheep’; the country round about it being famous for feeding great numbers of sheep; and here afterwards was a church of Christ, a bosom for his sheep.”
Of this location, the 19th Century theologian Albert Barnes provides these words –
“This was the capital of Lycaonia. It is now called Konieh, and is the capital of Caramania. ‘Konieh extends to the east and south over the plain far beyond the walls, which are about two miles in circumference ... Mountains covered with snow rise on every side, excepting toward the east, where a plain, as flat as the desert of Arabia, extends far beyond the reach of the eye’ (Capt. Kinnear). ‘Little, if anything, remains of Greek or Roman Iconium, if we except the ancient inscriptions and the fragments of sculptures which are built into the Turkish walls.’ ‘The city wall is said to have been erected by the Seljukian sultans: it seems to have been built from the ruins of more ancient buildings, as broken columns, capitals, pedestals, bas-reliefs, and other pieces of sculpture contribute toward its construction. It has 80 gates, of a square form, each known by a separate name, and, as well as most of the towers, embellished with Arabic inscriptions ... I observed a few Greek characters on the walls, but they were in so elevated a situation that I could not decipher them’ (Capt. Kinneir).”
Today, the name is Konya. It is a major city in Turkey, being the sixth most populous and having over two million residents.
Life application: Understanding the dispensational model for interpreting the Bible is crucial to possessing proper theology. When someone claims that the words of Jesus in a particular section of the synoptic gospels still applies today, just take them to the surrounding verses and ask them, “Then why aren’t you doing this also.” There will almost always be obvious indicators that Jesus was speaking only to Israel about matters that pertain solely to them.
To tear verses out of their context and then shove them into church-age doctrine is damaging for several reasons. Probably the main reason is that an inevitable contradiction in theology will arise. What is prescribed in the epistles is based upon the finished, final, and forever work of Jesus Christ. What is presented in the gospels is not. In those gospels, He was still in the process of fulfilling the law and his apostles and disciples were a part of that until His work was complete.
Once the law was fulfilled and set aside, Jesus gave them new instructions and poured out His Spirit on them to lead them in a new direction. This includes Paul. These instructions are now found in the epistles.
Having said this, dispensationalism can be taken too far, wrongly dividing the church age further than intended. This mainly comes from a lack of scholarship in understanding the symbolism and typology of the Old Testament, something that pointed to the work of Jesus. This was not “Jewish” symbolism, but “Christ-centered” symbolism. By misunderstanding this, heretical teachings have arisen that further, and incorrectly, divide the church.
Be careful what you assimilate. Everything must be taken in its proper context. When this does not occur, you are assured of having unsound doctrine.
Glorious Lord Jesus, thank You for Your work under the law to free man from law and to bring us into the state of grace that brings us back to our heavenly Father. For those who have come to You, we are safe and secure forever from condemnation. Thank You, Lord, for what You have done. All glory to Your magnificent name! Amen.
7 days ago
7 days ago
Monday, 30 January 2023
But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. Acts 13:50
The previous verse noted that “the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.” Because the gospel is a message of freedom, and because Satan and his followers hate freedom, blowback from the apostle’s efforts was inevitable. This had repeatedly been the case since the first proclamation of the gospel by Peter in Acts 2. With their successful efforts in the region, the resulting antagonistic attitude of the opposition grew. Luke now records who was behind it, beginning with, “But the Jews.”
The contrast between Paul and Barnabas who are both Jews and “the Jews” noted here is bold and striking. Despite being Jews, Paul and Barnabas have a message to convey that goes beyond the Jewish people. The Jews do not. Their message is one of bondage. If there are those who are not Jews who accept their message, they are brought into a position of subservience, not freedom.
On the other hand, the message of Jesus allows people to remain who they are in a manner that is not seen in the message of the Jews. The gospel calls for a change in heart toward God, and it is offered to anyone of any station in life. This is not the case with the Jews as is seen in the next words. They “stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city.”
The Jews did not go out into the streets and alleys and proclaim freedom from sin. Instead, they established themselves in a city, brought their religion with them, and allowed the prominent and wealthy to join them, thus gaining influence at the higher levels. Though a bit long, the words of Charles Ellicott explain this situation –
“The fact stated brings before us another feature of the relations between Jews and Gentiles at this period. They ‘compassed sea and land to make one proselyte’ (Matthew 23:15). They found it easier to make proselytes of women. Such conversions had their good and their bad sides. In many cases there was a real longing for a higher and purer life than was found in the infinite debasement of Greek and Roman society, which found its satisfaction in the life and faith of Israel. (See Notes on Acts 17:4; Acts 17:12.) But with many, ... the change brought with it new elements of superstition and weakness, and absolute submission of conscience to its new directors, and thus the Rabbis were often to the wealthier women of Greek and Roman cities what Jesuit confessors were in France and Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here we get the darker side of the picture. The Jews stir up the women of the upper class, and they stir up their husbands. The latter were content apparently to acquiesce in their wives accepting the Judaism with which they had become familiar, but resented the intrusion of a new and, in one sense, more exacting doctrine.”
It is these Jews, with a finger on those who were politically established and who possessed great wealth, that “raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas.” Here, Luke uses a word, epegeiró, for the first of two times in Scripture. It signifies “to rouse upon.” In other words, their influence is used upon the minds of the people to stir them up against the message that has been conveyed. In their arousal, it is to a state of persecution against Paul and Barnabas.
The type of persecution the apostles faced is not stated, but exacting examples of such persecution will be seen as Acts continues. Quite often, it will be because of the Jews who oppose them.
A notable example of this is found in Acts 19. In that chapter, there was a great disturbance that resulted from Paul’s sharing of the gospel. In proclaiming Jesus as God, it means that idols are false gods. Because of this, a state of friction arose in Ephesus because of the great idol that was worshipped there. Smaller images of the great statue of Diana were made for people to purchase. But if the gospel flourished, these idol makers would lose their source of revenue. Hence, those who made them stirred up the masses. There it says –
“And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people.” Acts 19:33
The Jews used the situation in Ephesus as a pretext to silence the spread of the gospel. But even more, this may be the same Alexander who continued to harass Paul as noted in 2 Timothy –
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. 15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.” 2 Timothy 4:14, 15
If this is the same Alexander, he not only wanted to silence the gospel because he had rejected it, but he also profited off the sales of these idols. That could be inferred from his being a coppersmith. It is this same attitude that caused the Jews to stir up those in Antioch against Paul and Barnabas. From there, Luke notes they “expelled them from their region.”
With the message widely spread in the area, and with the Jews exerting their influence over those in power, the Lord knew that it was time for the apostles to move on. What initially seems like a defeat will be prove to be another victory as Chapter 14 opens. The apostles will move on and bring the message to another area where a great multitude will again receive their message.
Life application: The Jews brought their situation upon themselves. Exactly as the Law of Moses said would occur, they went into an extended period of punishment for their rejection of Jesus. But it should not go without noting that this included Paul too. He was as opposed to the message of Jesus as anyone. And yet, the Lord, through His grace and mercy, brought Paul to Himself –
“For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” Galatians 1:13-17
This is further explained by Paul to Timothy –
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:12-14
Paul was given grace and mercy and he used it to the glory of God from that moment on. And despite his anger at the state of his people in rejecting Christ Jesus, he understood their attitude because he had shared in it. His first allegiance was always to Jesus, but he also remained troubled in his heart over the state of his people (See Romans 9:1-3).
This should be our attitude as well, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles who have rejected Jesus. We should be angry at their state of rebellion and their active resistance to the gospel. But we should also be troubled in our hearts at their pitiful state of condemnation. In other words, we should be willing to go in both directions.
We should strive against them as they attack the message while striving with the gospel’s proclamation in hopes that some may be saved. Let us do our best to be responsible with our state in Christ in this manner. Hold fast to the truth of the gospel proclaiming it and allowing it to have the effect that God intends for it at any given time and place.
Help us, Lord God, to never be shy about being Christians. May we faithfully proclaim that we are saved believers of Christ who will stand on His gospel no matter what. Those who oppose it will receive what they are due. And those who accept it will be granted Your mercy and forgiveness. May our words go forth! From there, they will do as You have purposed. Help us to be responsible and to speak out so that this can happen. Amen.
Sunday Jan 29, 2023
Sunday Jan 29, 2023
Sunday, 29 January 2023
And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. Acts 13:49
By citing Isaiah, Paul and Barnabas have noted that the message of Christ was to be a light to the Gentiles leading to salvation to the ends of the earth. In their stating this, the Gentiles of Antioch of Pisidia “were glad and glorified the word of the Lord.” From there, it noted that those who believed were appointed to eternal life. Now it says, “And the word of the Lord.”
This certainly has the full meaning of “The Lord God of Israel who has come in the person of Jesus Christ.” In other words, it was the “word of the Lord” through Isaiah that made the Gentiles rejoice. And it was the word concerning the Lord Jesus, as the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah, that brought them to salvation. Hence, “the word of the Lord” is the full message of the God of Israel.
If one of the people listening said, “Why do we need to be saved?” Paul or Barnabas could tell them about the fall of man in Genesis. If one of them in the audience said, “But all paths lead to God,” one of the apostles could speak about the exclusivity of salvation because it is the work of God and not of man. As this is so, then God – who is not fickle – would not accept any other path than that designated by Him.
The word of the Lord from the Hebrew Scriptures would provide the baseline for understanding what the situation of man was and what God was doing about correcting it. The word of the Lord concerning Jesus would explain what God had brought about in fulfillment of that plan. With this in mind, it next says that this word of the Lord, “was being spread.”
The word used here, diapheró, signifies “to carry through.” For example, when the head of John the Baptist was brought before Herod, the word pheró was used. It was carried to him. The prefix dia signifies “through.” This is what happened in Acts 5. The early persecution of the church did not dissuade the gospel’s proclamation. Rather, it enhanced it. The apostles dug in and continued to proclaim the word. In Acts 5:16, it says –
“Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”
This also happened after the death of Stephen, the persecution at that time only increased the spread of the gospel –
“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Acts 8:1
As the leaders of Israel persecuted the early church, it spread. Now with the opposition to the message of Paul and Barnabas by the Jews in Antioch, the gospel has continued to spread in a great new way, going forth to the Gentiles. These men carried the word through each area they went which was “throughout all the region.”
Of this, Charles Ellicott notes, “This clearly involves a considerable period of active working. It was not in Antioch only, but in the “region” round about, the border district of the three provinces of Phrygia, Lycaonia, and Galatia, that the new faith was planted.”
Life application: Just when people think they have their fingers pressed upon God’s people and His word, they find that their actions have increased the spread of the gospel. If people are willing to be chased from their homes for being Christians, they will continue to be Christians where they are chased to. When they get where they are going, they will be more, not less, willing to share their faith.
This has been proven true throughout history. For those who truly believe the word, there will only be an increased passion to share their message when asked who they are and what brought them to where they are. It is true that this happens with false religions and false sects of Christianity as well, but this is something that must come about because of the fallen state of the world.
Mormonism flourished in the US because of the religious protections provided for those who practiced it. This is also true with numerous other aberrant cults that arose around the same time. But the true message of the gospel also was allowed to expand as well. People have choices to make, and they are responsible for what they believe. The onus is on man to think through what is presented, to accept what is right, and to be saved in believing what is true.
The very nature of how the gospel is communicated calls out for man’s response – “Believe and be saved. But be careful what you believe.” There is one message of salvation that is found in the one gospel message.
Lord God, just when the world thinks it has stopped the message of Jesus from going any further, it finds out that it has not only gone further, but it has flourished. Your word has stood the test of time and it has spread to the uttermost part of the earth. It is so wonderful to be a part of Your glorious plan of the ages. Thank You for Jesus who has made this possible! Amen.
Saturday Jan 28, 2023
Saturday Jan 28, 2023
Saturday, 28 January 2023
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48
In the previous verse, Paul and Barnabas cited to the Jews the words of Isaiah, demonstrating that the gospel going to the Gentiles was anticipated even in their own Scriptures. Now, Luke continues by saying, “Now when the Gentiles heard this.”
This is the great throng of Gentiles that were mentioned in verses 44 & 45, there called “almost the whole city.” They were obviously listening to the words spoken between the apostles and the Jews of the synagogue and were elated that these men who brought the good news of Jesus’ salvation had identified them as also being recipients of God’s favor in Christ. With that, it next says, “they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord.”
Both verbs are imperfect and demonstrate that the words didn’t just bring about a sudden rush of emotion which then ended. Rather, “the Gentiles were rejoicing and were glorifying the word of the Lord.” They began to rejoice and continued to do so. They also glorified the word of the Lord and they continued to do so.
With this going on in their hearts, some of the most abused words in Scripture concerning the doctrines of election and predestination are next cited by Luke, saying, “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
What one believes about these doctrines will immediately set forward in the mind what that person believes is being conveyed. It is obvious that the Pulpit Commentary sides with the Calvinistic view –
“This can only refer to the predestination or election of God, viewed as the moving cause of their faith.” Pulpit Commentary
Both election and predestination are mentioned by Paul. Thus, they are valid doctrines. The way in which they are explained is the issue. Paul mentions election in Romans 9 and 11. He speaks of the elect elsewhere as well. He refers to predestination in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1.
Those who side with Calvin will, like the Pulpit Commentary, say that God was the force behind both their belief and their salvation unto eternal life. Essentially, their argument is that God chose them to be saved, He caused them to believe, they believed, and they were saved.
On the other hand, there is the view that man has free will to believe or to reject what has been presented. Those who believe are the elect. Essentially, the argument is that God seals them with the Spirit upon belief, a cause of their own movement, and they are then saved by God.
There is quite a bit more involved in this but going with those two main views as the initial bias in the words presented in this verse of Acts, even translations reflect what is presupposed. Notice the difference in a few translations –
*and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. NLT*and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. KJV
*And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. NKJV
*and all those who had been appointed (designated, ordained) to eternal life [by God] believed [in Jesus as the Christ and their Savior]. Amplified
*Everyone who had been chosen for eternal life then put their faith in the Lord. CEV
*Everyone who had been prepared for everlasting life believed. God’s Word
*Meanwhile, all who had been destined to eternal life believed, ISV
*and all who were pre-destined to the Life of the Ages believed. Weymouth
*and did believe -- as many as were appointed to life age-during. YLT
The order of the words in Greek is only followed by one version listed here, YLT. The Greek reads, “And believed, as many as were appointed to life eternal.”
To put the word “appointed” before “believed” automatically biases the mind that the appointment came first, whether that is the case or not. To say as the Weymouth, “were pre-destined,” may be true based upon Paul’s noting that there is a doctrine of predestination, but without proper explanation, and placing it before “believed,” biases the mind even further.
Of these words, Albert Barnes goes through each instance of the word tassó, or “appointed,” and concludes that “The word is never used to denote an internal disposition or inclination arising from one’s own self. It does not mean that they disposed themselves to embrace eternal life.”
He continues with his thoughts, saying, 1) “they were disposed or inclined to this from some other source than themselves;” 2) “They were then inclined by an influence from without themselves, or so disposed as to embrace eternal life. ... It was not a disposition or arrangement originating with themselves, but with God.” 3) “It was nothing but God's disposing them to embrace eternal life.”
In other words, he is convinced that these people had no choice in their salvation. They were moved by God, they believed, and then they were saved. But without citing every instance of the word, we can see that his analysis is flawed. For example –
“Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.” Acts 15:2
It was “determined” that Paul and Barnabas were to go up to Jerusalem. Does that mean that this was done without the will of Paul and Barnabas? Absolutely not! It was a decision that was rendered based on a difficulty that had arisen. Also –
“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.” Acts 28:1
Here, a day was appointed for people to come and hear the word of the Lord. Nothing is said about the disposition of the people, whether they had to come or not, whether the meeting would be held even if Paul lost his left arm that morning, and so on. It is simply an appointment that is set forth for something to occur.
In the case of those believing, God had set forth an edict, “Believe in my Son and you will be granted eternal life.” Those who believed were then appointed to eternal life. How can we know that this is correct? It is because the words of Acts 13:48 are not isolated from the surrounding context. They are a part of what was occurring right among the people, and they are set in contrast to what was said in Acts 13:46 –
“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.’”
The contrast is not to God’s pre-ordaining these Jews to condemnation apart from their will, but rather in accord with their will. They judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. The Gentiles believed and thus judged themselves worthy.
Further, the word “believed” in Acts 13:46 is in the active voice. The people actively believed. However, the word “appointed” is in the middle voice. The Greek middle voice denotes that the subject is both an agent of an action and somehow concerned with the action. Hence, these people were disposed to believe based on what they heard. God initiated the action through the word. The apostles spoke forth the word. The people heard the word and then believed. There is no hint of the Calvinistic doctrine of forced salvation to be found in the words of this verse.
Life application: Context matters. There is a surrounding context to the words of this verse that drives the meaning and intent of what is being said.
Proper translation matters. There is an order in which the words are presented in the original Greek text. Realigning those words may not be appropriate if they will bias the reader or provide a false sense of what is being presented.
Theology matters. Obtaining proper theology on a subject means taking it from the entire body of Scripture. In other words, the immediate context is important, but the overall context is the final decider of what is being presented. As an example, the Bible does not say the following –
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever is predestined apart from his free will and then believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The Bible also does not say –
“And Enoch walked with God after being regenerated to believe Him; and he was not, for God took him.”
Such words cannot even be inferred from what is said. Nor can they be inferred from the surrounding text or, more especially, the overall context of the Bible. Rather, they are clear and precise statements that are like an almost innumerable list of other such statements found in Scripture that tell the reader of the Bible that he has a responsibility to respond to the call of God in his life.
Lord God, thank You that You have offered us Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And more, You have given us the choice to believe or disbelieve. Your greatness is displayed in this. You do not force Yourself upon Your people but appeal to them, asking us to reason with You and do what is right. Thank You for this. Amen.
Friday Jan 27, 2023
Friday Jan 27, 2023
Friday, 27 January 2023
“For so the Lord has commanded us:‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 13:47
In the previous verse, Paul and Barnabas chided those at the synagogue, noting that henceforth they would turn to the Gentiles. With that noted, their words continue with, “For so the Lord has commanded us.”
The apostles, in their turning to the Gentiles, are not without authority to do so. They are acting at the command of the Lord. But instead of citing the words of Jesus in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 about making disciples of all nations, they appeal to the Hebrew Scriptures.
The reason for this is that these Jews have already rejected the idea of Jesus being their Messiah and they have blasphemed His name. To cite Jesus’ words as their authority would simply bring scoffing from the Jews. Instead, they turn to the great prophet Isaiah as they had done on the previous Sabbath. Their citation clearly calls for the word of God to go forth to the nations, saying, “I have set you as a light to the Gentiles.”
The words are cited from Isaiah 49:6 –
“Indeed He says,‘It is too small a thing that You should be My ServantTo raise up the tribes of Jacob,And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:6
Paul and Barnabas directly equate the words of Isaiah to the coming Messiah. Even if the words of Isaiah were referring to himself at the time, something that could be debated, it was understood that they also had a messianic fulfillment. Thus, their clear intent is that the Messiah would not only come to accomplish His work for Israel but that it would extend to the entire world. That is seen in the next words of the quote, which read, “That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.”
The same phrase is found in Acts 1:8. The Greek is singular and so it should read, “That you should be for salvation to the uttermost part of the earth.” The intent of the words of Isaiah is absolutely clear. The Messiah’s work was to extend beyond the borders of Israel, even to the most remote region on the planet, wherever that may be. This is precisely what Jesus instructed the people just prior to His ascension –
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The work of Jesus Christ was first sent to the people of Israel, but its scope was always intended to extend to the entire world. The logical order of evangelism was followed as directed by Jesus and it is carefully documented in Acts by Luke, showing that His directives were meticulously followed. With the rejection of the word by the Jews at Antioch of Pisidia, the word was to continue to be proclaimed to those who would hear it.
This same pattern will continue to be followed by Paul as he moves from city to city. Those Jews who accept his gospel presentation will be saved. Eventually, the whole Jewish community will have made their decision, and then Paul will continue by evangelizing the Gentiles. One body will grow out of both classes in each area where a church is established.
Life application: One of the heretical sects that has arisen in the recent past ridiculously teaches that the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 refer to the evangelization of the nations by Israel during the tribulation and even millennial period. The reason for this is that it includes words concerning baptism. This heretical cult doesn’t believe that baptism is a necessary thing for Christians to do.
And yet, the same group participates in the Lord’s Supper, another mark of inclusion in the New Covenant. The thinking is convoluted and depraved. The same Lord who commanded the Lord’s Supper based on His death, burial, and resurrection, also commanded that believers be baptized based on His death, burial, and resurrection.
The words of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13, when taken together with Jesus’ words in Matthew 28, Luke 24, and Acts 1, clearly reveal that the evangelization of the nations during this timeframe is exactly what Jesus was referring to. As this is so, then baptism is a set and expected part of the believer’s walk before the Lord.
Don’t be led astray by those who have a purposeful agenda to destroy the work of the Lord and obedience to it by His people because of an agenda against the Jewish people. The Jews rejected Jesus, they have been punished for their rejection of Jesus, and the message has continued on among the Gentiles during that time of rejection. The Old Testament Scriptures anticipated all of this.
In failing to understand (or intentionally rejecting) the whole picture of what is spoken of in the Old, it is no wonder that such aberrant cults arise. Believe in the Lord Jesus, receive baptism as a sign of that belief, and actively participate in the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of the sacrificial work of the Lord until He returns for His people, just as the Lord has commanded.
Lord God, may we clearly think through what You have presented to us in Your word. The Old Testament gives instructions that are more fully revealed and explained in the New. May we take the time to be aware of what Your word says in both testaments so that we can make reasonable conclusions about our walk before You all our days, glorifying You through obedience to Your word. Amen.
Thursday Jan 26, 2023
Thursday Jan 26, 2023
Thursday, 26 January 2023
Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46
The previous verse noted the jealousy of the Jews at the turnout that had come to hear Paul and Barnabas speak. With that, they began “contradicting and blaspheming.” Now, a reaction to that is stated by Luke beginning with the words, “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said.”
The Greek contains an aorist participle and only one conjunction. More rightly, it reads, “And speaking boldly, Paul and Barnabas said.” They were not going to take any guff from the Jews who came against the good news of the gospel.
These Jews had heard what occurred, they had been shown right from Scripture that those events were prophesied in advance, and they had rejected what was presented to them. In response to that, both Paul and Barnabas united their voices in agreement, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first.”
Jesus’ ministry was to the house of Israel. He stated that explicitly in the gospels –
“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” Matthew 10:5, 6
That sentiment is repeated in Matthew 15 –
“Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’
23 But He answered her not a word.
And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’
24 But He answered and said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’
26 But He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’
27 And she said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Matthew 15:21-28
It was to Israel that Jesus first came. However, there are times when He ministered to the Gentiles, demonstrating that His word was both intended and effectual for the Gentiles. But there was a priority to be given to Israel as the stewards of the law and the bearers of the name of the Lord. After His crucifixion, He made the inclusion of the Gentiles in the continued ministry explicit –
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
As the apostles went forth, they followed this same pattern, first going to the Jewish people as directed by Jesus in Acts 1:8 –
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
That set pattern has been meticulously followed in Acts. In two separate instances in Acts 8 and 10, the message has gone directly to Gentiles. But the pattern has been adhered to as the gospel has gone from Jerusalem then Judea, and to Samaria. Eventually, it continued to go further as the apostles have gone out to confirm what the Jews of the diaspora from the various nations saw in Acts 2. The idea of the gospel going to the Jews first is also stated by Paul in Romans 1:16.
This is what Paul and Barnabas have done. They first presented the word to the Jews in Antioch of Pisidia. They will continue to do this as they go from town to town, first seeking out the synagogue. However, in Antioch, those in the synagogue have rejected the word and so Paul and Barnabas continue, saying, “but since you reject it.”
The words are plainly spoken to the Jews so that there can be no misunderstanding. In other words, there is probably as much of an implied questioning of them as there is a statement of fact rendered against them, “You have rejected the word. If we are incorrect about this, speak up now.” With no anticipated argument otherwise, the apostles continue, saying, “and judge yourselves.”
The Jews have rendered their own decision against themselves. Just as was the case in Jerusalem at the crucifixion of Jesus –
“When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.’25 And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children.’” Matthew 27:24, 25
The nation had called for the judgment of God to be brought against itself because it had made the judgment against itself. Paul and Barnabas are not in Antioch to convert the nation of Israel but to convince those Jews who will accept the gospel to separate themselves from the nation. These particular Jews had rejected their advances and had judged themselves “unworthy of everlasting life.”
The offer was made, it was that of forgiveness of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and – if accepted – it would have moved them from condemnation to salvation. In being saved, they would have received everlasting life. In rejecting this salvation, their condemnation remained, just as Jesus said –
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21
In having decided this, there was no longer any point in continuing with evangelizing these Jews. But because there was a giant crowd of Gentiles there who were hungry to receive the message, Paul and Barnabas next say, “behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”
They had fulfilled their obligation to tell the good news of Jesus to the Jews first. They had presented Scriptural evidence and the historical account of Jesus’ works to them. They had, during their presentation, given them the simple gospel of salvation. Despite their efforts, their message was rejected. And so, to continue with the work directed for them to do in Matthew 28, they would continue speaking their message in Antioch to the Gentiles.
Their words now do not mean, “We only turn to the Gentiles from now on.” Rather, their main focus of attention will be the Gentiles who are so willing to hear their words. When they get to another city, they will again go directly to the synagogue and begin the process again, speaking to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles.
Life application: As can be easily determined from this passage, the gospel spoken to the Jews is the same one that has been (and will continue to be) spoken to the Gentiles. The difference between the ministry of Peter and that of Paul is one of focus, not content. They both have the same message, but Peter’s focus was on the Jews, particularly within the borders of Israel, but also in the areas where he traveled (see Galatians 2).
Paul, on the other hand, was skilled in international matters, he was a citizen of Rome, he spoke many languages (1 Corinthians 14:18), and so forth. Therefore, he was selected by Jesus to personally go further than just to the Jews. Peter was not without interaction with the Gentiles, as was minutely detailed in Acts 10, but the primary focus of his ministry was to the Jews.
Understanding this simple precept, and accepting it at face value, will save the student of the Bible from being drawn into truly devious teachings that have crept into the church. Such teachings attempt to divide the offering of Jesus into separate categories with separate messages. These doctrines are heretical because they introduce a false gospel, which is no gospel at all. Be careful to guard yourself against such insidious teachings.
Jesus! It is all about Jesus. The message is for all the world, and it is the only saving message. Hold fast to the gospel that has been offered to Jews and to Gentiles for the saving of the soul and for obtaining everlasting life.
Lord God, how good it is to share in Your offering of Jesus. To think that we were on the path to destruction, and You intervened to bring us back to Yourself. All we need to do is simply believe the word in order to be saved. Thank You for this simple and glorious message of reconciliation. Amen.
Wednesday Jan 25, 2023
Wednesday Jan 25, 2023
Wednesday, 25 January 2023
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Acts 13:45
The previous verse noted that almost the whole city had come together to hear the word of God. With that remembered, it now says, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes.” There are two points to consider here. The first is obviously the sheer number of people who have gathered. What a difference this would have been to the few proselytes who had come to the synagogue to learn of their legalistic rituals and consider placing themselves under the bondage of the law.
The second point is that the word translated as “multitudes” is ochlos. It refers not only to the great number, but the implication is a great number of common people. As Strong’s says, “by implication, the rabble.”
The Jews had a few proselytes that were interested in their legalistic instructions and who were probably wealthy enough to buy favor. On the other hand, Paul and Barnabas had an immense crowd of common rabble who came to hear about the gift of God, His grace that could not be purchased.
What would have been the most galling of all to them is that their message then meant that this throng of people was on the same standing as the Jews. And yet, they had done nothing to merit it. They had not suffered through the history the Jews had endured, they had not been kept from delightful foods such as bacon or pork chops, they had not ever observed a Passover or a Day of Atonement, and yet Paul and Barnabas were saying that Jesus was their Passover, and He was their atoning sacrifice. It would be infuriating to them to hear such things. Therefore, “they were filled with envy.”
The word is zelos. Probably a better translation of it would be “jealousy” or even “indignation.” The word signifies burning emotion as if boiling over. Like the Pharisees who dealt with Jesus, they would have indignantly thought that they alone merited God’s favor –
“Then the Pharisees answered them, ‘Are you also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.’” Luke 7:47-49
Those in the synagogue looked at the law as a means to an end. They were the stewards of that law, and they were also its teachers. And more, they were “Jews by nature,” God’s chosen and set apart people. They were not “sinners of the Gentiles” (Galatians 2:15). As such, they were surely filled with their own prideful and selfish indignation. Because of this, Luke continues to refer to them, saying, “and contradicting.”
The word is antilegó. It is formed from anti, against, and legó, to say. Thus, this means that they were actively speaking against the words of Paul and Barnabas in a contradictory manner. When Paul spoke of grace, they would have spoken of their works. When Paul spoke of salvation in Jesus, they would say, “But the law demands condemnation for those who don’t obey.” And more, Luke next says, “and blaspheming.”
The word signifies to speak lightly or profanely about sacred things. Their words spoke against Jesus, and Luke calls this blasphemy. They refused to respect the name of Jesus who was clearly shown by Paul one week earlier to be Israel’s Messiah. The Scriptures testified to it, and they refused to accept what Paul said concerning Jesus’ fulfillment of the Scriptures. Thus, their words are to be considered blasphemy. Therefore, “they opposed the things spoken by Paul.”
Not only had Paul provided his evidence on the previous Sabbath within the walls of the synagogue, but he now openly proclaimed them to those outside of it. This was too much for the Jews to bear. If what Paul said was true, it would mean their traditions and religion were no longer acceptable to God. It is reminiscent of the words of the Jews when contemplating how to deal with Jesus –
“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’” John 11:47, 48
And like those Jews at Jesus’ time who then said that it was expedient for one man to die, these Jews wanted to again crucify the name of Jesus before these Gentiles.
Life application: To this day, the majority of the Jews in the world have rejected Jesus. Many of them don’t care about religious matters at all. Their lives are based on their Jewish nature, not on a relationship with God in some formal manner. However, most of those who go beyond the secular and involve themselves in the religious life of their people have an attitude just like those of the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia.
They feel that they merit God’s favor because of who they are as a people (His chosen), for what they do to please Him (such as being circumcised in the flesh), and for what they don’t do (“Pork chops, heaven forbid!”). Their religion is not one of grace but of works. And yet, the first father that they look to, Abraham, neither had the law, nor did he do anything to receive God’s declaration of righteousness. He simply believed the word of the Lord.
As this is so, and as the law came after Abraham’s justification, the law cannot be what pleases God, even if it is His personal standard of holiness. David understood this. Despite being a man under the law, a law that demanded the imputation of sin for a violation of it, he also understood that there was a state of blessing that could be obtained apart from the law –
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:7 ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,And whose sins are covered;8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.’” Romans 4:5-8
The lesson of the Bible is that only when one trusts in the Lord and accepts His word at face value by believing what He says can he be pleasing to God. And the Lord has shown that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). If one cannot accept that, then he cannot be pleasing to God.
The gospel is so simple. Let us not add to it. Jesus has pleased God on our behalf. By faith in His work, we are reconciled to God. What can we add to that? Nothing! Only after that are our deeds considered acceptable to Him. Let us maintain the purity of the gospel when conveying it to others.
O God, thank You for Jesus our Lord. He has done all that is necessary to satisfy You. Now, we can trust in His merits and also be pleasing to You. May we never try to diminish the glorious work He has done by telling others that they need to “do” to be pleasing to You. Rather, they need to simply believe in His doing! Amen.