Southern Christian University

Acts Class Session #05

James A. Turner

 

Hello students.  When our time was up last week, we were studying from Acts chapter seven, reading Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin. I called attention last time that in my Bible the head note says, Stephen's defense, but actually Stephen is not making any defense.  I think he knew what they were going to do with him.  That Sanhedrin court was the same court that had  violated many of the rules of the court.  It had purposely condemned Jesus to death for no proper cause, and Stephen knew that they were going to do the same thing to him.  And what he does, he briefly reviews the history of the people of Israel from the call of Abraham up until the present, and shows that they have a consistent pattern of rejecting the leaders that God had set forth for them, that they had rejected Joseph, and that they had rejected Moses, that they had rejected many of the Old Testament prophets and had killed many of the Old Testament prophets, and then concluded by condemning the court.  And saying, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit:  As your fathers did, so do ye." 

 

When our Class Session was up we counted Acts 7:9 as our beginning place for this Class Session, but I have decided to discuss the four hundred years of bondage as mentioned in Acts 7:6 which refers back to Genesis 15:13. There are other Old Testament references which speak of it as four hundred years.  Evidently in the passages where it is spoken of as four hundred years, the writers must be rounding off to the nearest number.  Many Bible students have concluded that Israel was in Egypt for four hundred years or for four hundred and forty years as given in Exodus 12:40, “The time that the people of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.” Clark’s Commentary says that the Samaritan text reads, --- “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt was 430 years.”

 

Turn to Galatians chapter three, beginning with verse fifteen, "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be a man's covenant, yet when it has been confirmed, no one made it void, or addeth thereto."  God had made a covenant with Abraham, that if he would leave his country and his kindred and go into the land that he would show him that he would make him great, and through his seed all nations or all families of the earth would be blessed.  Verse sixteen, "Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed, he saith not unto seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."  So Christ was the fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 12:3, that through the seed of Abraham all nations of the earth would be blessed, and that Christ would make a way of salvation for all men. 

 

Galatians 3:17, "And this I say, a covenant, confirmed beforehand of God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect.  For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise."  Note that Abraham was seventy-five when he went into the land of Canaan, in Genesis 11:27-12:7,  and he was a hundred years old when Isaac was born, (Genesis 17:24, 18:10, and 21:1-2).  Isaac was sixty when Jacob and Esau were born, and Jacob was a hundred and thirty when he went down to Egypt.  And I did not put that reference down.  I thought I had that reference about Isaac was sixty when those twins were born.  Well, we will take time to find that reference.  That reference will be in chapter twenty-five, I believe.  Please write down that reference about Isaac being sixty when the twins were born.  Genesis 25:26, "And afterward his brother came forth, and his hand had taken hold of Esau's heel:  So his name was called Jacob."  Remember they were twins, and Esau came first.  "Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them."  And then Jacob was a hundred and thirty years old when he went down to Egypt, Genesis 47:9-10.  So what does this mean?  Galatians 3:16-18, Paul says that the law, speaking of the Old Testament law, given to the people of Israel on mount Sinai, after they came out of Egyptian bondage, and that was four hundred and thirty years from the promise that God made to Abraham until the giving of the law.  And Abraham had been in Canaan for twenty-five years when Isaac was born.  And Isaac was sixty years old when Jacob was born, and  Jacob was a hundred and thirty years old when he went to Egypt.  So we had twenty-five years for Abraham being in the land before Isaac was born.  And then Isaac was sixty years old when Jacob and Esau were born, plus he was a hundred and thirty years old when he went to Egypt.  And so put those together, twenty-five and sixty and a hundred and thirty equals two hundred and fifteen years that they were in the land of Canaan before they went to Egypt.  And then they must have been in the land of Egypt for two hundred and fifteen years when God brought them out under the leadership of Moses, so two hundred and fifteen years in the land of Canaan and two hundred and fifteen years in the land of Egypt and God brought them out.  I hope that will help you in thinking about the time in the Old Testament passages and all that is involved in that.

 

 Let us turn back now to Acts 7:9, “And the patriarchs, moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him into Egypt:  And God was with him."  Stephen is giving a very brief account. Actually he is briefing from Genesis chapter thirty-seven through chapter fifty of Genesis, the last of Genesis.  The patriarchs moved with jealousy against Joseph, and sold him into Egypt, and God was with him.  But why were those brothers of Joseph so jealous and why did they sell him into bondage?  They were jealous of him, because he was a better boy than they were, and number two, Jacob had shown favoritism toward him and had made him a coat of many colors,   and they saw that and they despised him.  Joseph also had a dream that when they were out in the fields gathering the sheaves, and  his sheaves stood up and their sheaves bowed to him.  They interpreted that as meaning that, are you saying to us that the day is coming when we will bow down to you?  Well, they finally did.  When they went down to Egypt the second time, they bowed to him before he made himself known to them.  And so they sold him into Egypt.  When he was seventeen years of age, his father  sent him to see how the brothers were doing herding the flocks.  They saw him coming afar off, and they said, here comes this dreamer.  They decided that they would kill him, but Reuben talked them out of that, and got them to put him in a pit.  He was planning to come back and get him out of the pit, but the Midianites and Ishmaelites came along, carrying their trading products to Egypt, and they sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver.

 

Genesis 37:19 reads, “they said one to another, here comes the dreamer.  Come, now, let us kill him, and throw him into one of the pits.  And we shall say a wild beast had devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”  So those were mean, hateful brothers, but God used those mean brothers to get Joseph down to Egypt to look out for all of Jacob's household when the famine came on.  So a long story, chapters thirty-seven through fifty, that is briefed here in a few verses.  But God was with Joseph,  verse ten, "And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh king of Egypt." 

 

The Midianites and Ishmaelites carried him down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh bought him.  And we read that Joseph was good looking and handsome.  Potiphar's wife cast her lustful eyes on him and wanted him to lie with her.  And she repeatedly tried to tempt him and get him to lie with her.  And finally one day when the men were out of the house, she took hold of his coat and was going to try to pull him on the bed with her, but he left the coat in her hand and fled.  She told her husband that he had come in to rape her, and that led to his being put in prison.  He was a good man in prison.  It was not long before he was put in charge of the prison.  So you see how God was with him.  He interpreted the dream of the butler and the baker.  He asked  the butler to remember me before Pharaoh, but he forgot all about it, or made out like he did, until Pharaoh dreamed the dreams about the seven fat cows that came up out of the water and then seven lean, ugly cows came up after them, and the seven lean and ugly cows devoured the fat cows.  Then he saw a stalk of corn that had seven good ears, and then he saw a stalk with lean ears that ate up the seven fat ears.  And Pharaoh awoke, and his dream troubled him.  He called in the wise men and magicians of Egypt, and they could not interpret the dream.  Finally the butler said I remember, and he told Pharaoh that Joseph could interpret his dreams.  So Joseph was called in.  Joseph told Pharaoh that the dreams were one, that there would be seven years of plenty, and then seven years of famine, and that the food needed to be stored up during the seven years of good crop years for the seven years of famine.  And Pharaoh said, we do not have any one wise as you, and that will be your job. So Joseph was made the prime minister of Egypt when he was thirty years of age.  And he stored up the food during those seven years of plenty.  And then it was sometime after that that the brothers went down for the first time to get food.  But I better move on.  I would like to review the whole story, but you probably know the story.  It is very interesting, and if you do not, please turn back and read those chapters. 

 

Acts 7:11, "Now there came a famine over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction:  And our fathers found no sustenance.  But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time."  When those brothers went to Egypt to get grain Joseph made out like that they were spies, that they had come to spy out the land.  They did not recognize him, but he recognized them, and spoke to them through an interpreter, and asked appropriate questions to learn about his father and Benjamin to see if they were still living.  He told them that they could not see his face the next time unless they brought that younger son, with them.  Jacob did not want to send him, but they told him, he has strictly charged us that we should not see his face unless we carried Benjamin.  I believe it was Judah, the one that said, that vowed to his father that he would see to it that Benjamin was not left behind.  Well, the second time when they went down, Joseph had them to prepare a meal for them.  When they left he put his cup in Benjamin's sack, and then he sent his steward after them to ask the question, “Wherefore have you rewarded evil for good,” and   they all went back and bowed down to him.  And it was after that, that he could not restrain himself any longer.  He made himself known to his brethren.  He sent wagons for them to bring everything to -- all of their possessions and all their whole household to Egypt (Genesis 44:2-45:28).  Verse fourteen, "And Joseph sent and called to him Jacob his father, and all of his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls."  Now, that reading is different from the reading in Genesis 46:26-27.  I would suggest that you write down in the margin by verse fourteen, Genesis 46:26-27, because there is a difference in the reading.  You know how some people are just ready to count every little difference a contradiction, but there is no contradiction, and I will tell you what probably the solution to the matter is after we read the reference.  Reading from Genesis 46:26-27, "All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his offspring, not including Jacob's sons wives, were sixty-six persons in all.  And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two.  All the persons of the house of Jacob, that came into the house of Egypt were seventy."  And so you see that verse twenty-seven is counting Joseph and his wife and his two sons to make the seventy.  So the difference would be as stated there in verse twenty-six, there were sixty-six persons in all, but not including Jacob's sons' wives.  Well, Joseph's wife is counted, and that would leave the wives of the eleven other brothers, if all of them were married, and there were probably just five wives that were living.  It looks like from the Old Testament scriptures that the women back there did not usually live as long as the men.  So probably just five of those eleven brothers’ wives were living when they went to Egypt (Acts 7:14).  "And Joseph sent and called to him Jacob his father, and all of his kindred threescore and fifteen souls."  That would be seventy-five, see, instead of seventy.  "And Jacob went down into Egypt and he died himself and our fathers.  And they carried him over to Sychem, and laid him in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor of Shechem."  Jacob was a hundred and thirty when he went to Egypt, (Genesis 47:9) and he lived seventeen years in Egypt.  And when he died, from Genesis chapter fifty, we read that Joseph had him embalmed after the manner of Egyptians, which took forty days, and they mourned for him thirty more days, making seventy days (Genesis 50:1-3).  And then after that, Joseph told Pharaoh how that his father had had him to promise that he would not bury him in Egypt, but would carry him and bury him in his burying place in the land of Canaan.  And Pharaoh was glad for Joseph to do that.  Reading from Genesis chapter fifty, picking up with verse six, "And Pharaoh answered, Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear."  And so Joseph went up to bury his father:  And with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as the house of Joseph, and his brothers, and his father's household:  Only their children, and their flocks, and their herds, were left in the land of Goshen.  And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen.  It was a very great company.  And when they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a great and sorrowful lamentation:  And he made a mourning for his father seven days.  And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians."  So all of the leading elders of the land, went with Joseph and his brothers to bury his father.  And they gave him a state funeral. 

 

Back to Acts 7:15, "And Jacob went down unto Egypt, and he died, himself, and our fathers."  And when Joseph died, remember he made them promise that they would carry his bones back when they went back to the land of Canaan.  Joseph, of course, believed in the promises of God, that God would deliver them from Egypt as he had promised (Genesis 15:13-14). Acts 7:16, "and they were carried over unto Schechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor of Schechem.  But as the time of the promise drew nigh, which God vouchsafed unto Abraham."  And I think that would be referring to Genesis 46:3, when Jacob was going down to Egypt, he worshipped, and God told him not to be afraid, to go to Egypt, and that he would make of him a great nation while he was in the land of Egypt.  Reading from Genesis46:1 ff, "So Israel took his journey and all that he had, and came to Beersheba."  And that is the southern extreme of the land of Canaan.  "And offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.  And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob.  And he said, Here am I.  Then he said, I am God, I am God the God of your Father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for I will make of you a great nation.  I will go down with you to Egypt; and I will also bring you up again:  And Joseph's hand shall close your eyes."  And so it was God's promise that he would make a great nation of the people of Israel, just seventy-five souls when they went down to Egypt.  But God said, while you're there, I will make a great nation of you.  So in that two hundred and fifteen year period, God fulfilled the promise.  And so we see the fulfillment there, verse seventeen.  "But as the time of the promise drew nigh, which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people of Israel grew and multiplied in Egypt."  See, they multiplied, so that there would be the fulfillment of that promise.  "Till there arose another king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph."  It is thought that the so-called shepherd kings were in power when Jacob went down to Egypt.  They were given the land of Goshen because they had their flocks and their herds, and the shepherds were despised by the Egyptians (Genesis 46:31-34).  But evidently the Egyptians were back in power, as stated here, that there arose another Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.  Acts 17:18, "Till there arose another king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph.  The same dealt craftily with our race, and ill treated our fathers, that they should cast out their babes, to the end that they might not live." 

 

Now, he is moving into the book of Exodus.  The people were multiplying so fast, that this Pharaoh was afraid that they would become too powerful and might join themselves to an enemy and deliver themselves, and they would no longer have them as slaves.  So he first gave the commandment to the midwives that they kill all the male babies, but the midwives feared God, and they did not do it.  They said that the Hebrew women were livelier than the Egyptian women, and the babies were born before they got there.  With the people having to work so hard they must have been more lively, but those midwives feared God.  And then he commanded that all of the boy babies were to be cast into the Nile River.  "So the same dealt craftily with our race, and ill treated our fathers, that they should cast out their babies, to the end that they might not live.  At which season Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and he was nourished three months in his father's house.  And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son."  You remember how that his mother made a basket of bulrushes, and put him down at the place where Pharaoh's daughter came to bathe.  His sister Miriam was watching from a distance, and when she saw that Pharaoh's daughter had compassion on the child, she went to her and asked if she would like for her to go and get a Hebrew woman to nurse the child.  Pharaoh's daughter did, and she went, of course, and got her mother.  So that's what this has reference to.  "And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son."  And then after he was weaned, he was carried to Pharaoh's daughter, and he was counted then legally as Pharaoh's daughter. 

 

Acts 7:22 indicates that Moses was trained to be the next Pharaoh of Egypt.  "And Moses was instructed in all of the wisdom of Egyptians, and he was mighty in words and in works."  He was already prepared to be the next Pharaoh of Egypt if he wanted to be.  But as stated in Hebrews chapter eleven, he chose rather to “suffer ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”  We will read that reference in a minute.  Acts 7:23, "But when he was well nigh, forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.  And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian:  And he supposed that his brethren understood that God by his hand was giving them deliverance:  But they understood not."  Now notice that when Moses was forty years of age, he took it upon himself to try to lead his people, but they rejected him.  And then after forty more years of wilderness training when he was much better prepared, God called him to go down and to deliver his people.  And he gave every excuse that he could give.  "And the day following, he appeared unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one 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 killest the Egyptian yesterday?  And Moses fled at this saying, and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.  And when forty years were fulfilled."  That would be Exodus chapter three that we are ready to read about here.  Note that Stephen divides the life of Moses into three forty-year periods.  Verse twenty-two, he is forty years old when he made the choice, and then verse thirty, forty years latter, God appeared to him in the burning bush and wanted him to go and lead his people.  You will do well to highlight the latter part of verse twenty-three and then part of verse thirty, and then part of verse thirty-six.  He was leading the people then for forty more years. This reference is the only one that divides Moses’ life up into the three forty year periods. "And when forty years were fulfilled, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai in a flame of fire in a bush.  And when Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight:  As he drew near to behold, there came a voice of the Lord.  I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob.  And Moses trembled, and durst not behold.  And the Lord said unto him, Loose the shoes from thy feet:  For the place whereon thou standeth is holy ground."  Who is this person that speaks to Moses as recorded there in verse thirty-three?  "And the Lord said unto him, Loose these shoes from thy feet:  For the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."  I think surely that person is Christ.  In I Corinthians chapter ten, Paul talks about, he said, "I would not have ye ignorant my brethren, concerning our fathers, that they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food, and did all drink of the same spiritual Rock:  For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:  And that Rock was Christ."  So Christ was with the children of Israel in their journey to Canaan, and it was Christ that spoke to Moses at the burning bush. In the Revelation, John, on two different occasions was going to worship an angel, but each time he was told not to that they were just fellow servants of God,  and you remember that when Cornelius bowed down to the apostle Peter, Peter told him to stand up, for I also am a man, and here Moses is told to pull his shoes off of his feet, for the “place whereon ye stand is holy ground.”  So he is told to worship.  In the fifth chapter of the book of Joshua, Christ appeared to Joshua before the taking of  Jericho.  "Joshua was by Jericho:  He lifted up his eyes and looked.  And behold a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand.  And Joshua went to him and said to him."  Joshua must have been a brave man.  "Are you for us or you for our adversaries?  And he said no, but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped.  And said to him, what dost my Lord bid his servant?  And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, pull off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place where you stand is holy."  So Moses is told to worship there in Exodus chapter three,  and here Joshua is told to worship.  It would have to be a divine person.  So put that with I Corinthians ten, and would not the person in Exodus three and Joshua five be Christ?

 

Okay. Where did we get to?  Verse thirty-three, And remember that forty years prior to that, he took it upon himself to try to lead the people of Israel, but they had refused him.  And then after forty more years of wilderness training, he was much better prepared to lead them, and he gives every excuse that he can think of as to why he is not qualified to lead them.  And that may be true of some today, that they want a place of leadership that they are not prepared for, and then in later years when they are well-prepared, they may try to say, I am not the man.  .  "And the Lord said unto him, Loose thy shoes from thy feet:  For the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.  I have surely seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I am come down to deliver them.  And now come, and I will send thee unto Egypt.  This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge?"  That was back forty years prior, see.  "Who made thee a ruler and a judge?  Him hath God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the bush.  This man led them forth."  Acts 7:36, "This man led them forth as they wrought wonders and signs in Egypt."  That is talking about the ten plagues, and then their deliverance from Egypt, and their wandering in the wildness because of their rebellion.   "And in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years."  You remember how God parted the Red sea with the strong east wind, the waters were congealed, and they stood up like a wall on each side of the people of Israel as they passed through on dry ground.  When they passed over the waters came together again and drowned the Egyptian army.  "This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me."  Notice that that quotation is from Deuteronomy 18:15.  Do you remember that Peter used that reference in his second gospel sermon, in Acts three, and referred it to Christ?  And so here Stephen is doing the same thing. 

 

Acts 7:37, "This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up to you from among your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.  This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness.  With the angel that spake to him in mount Sinai, and with our fathers.  Who received living oracles to give unto us:  To whom our fathers would not be obedient."  See how that he continues to show the disobedience of the people of Israel.  "But thrust him from them and turned back unto their hearts to Egypt, saying unto Aaron, Make us gods that shall go before us:  For as this Moses, who led us forth out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him."  That is Exodus chapter thirty-two.  When God called Moses up on the mountain to give him the Ten Commandments and other things, they went away into calf idolatry.  They had learned to worship calves in Egypt.  They wanted Aaron to make them gods to go before them, and Aaron knew what they wanted, and he had them to bring their gold rings, and he melted the gold and made them a golden calf.   They had worshipped their golden calf and had risen up to play when Moses came down from the mountain; he and Joshua heard all the noise.  When Moses learned what had happened, he threw down the two tables of stone and broke them.  Verse forty-one, "And they made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands.  But God turned, and gave them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets."  And this reference is from Amos chapter five, beginning with verse twenty-five.  "Did ye offer unto me slain beasts and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?  Yea  ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of the god of Chiun the figures, which ye made to worship them:  And I will carry you away beyond Babylon."  And I believe that meant that they would be carried into Assyria.  "Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness."  

 

Acts 7:44, "Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, even as he appointed, who spake unto Moses, that he should make it according to the figure that he had seen."  We read about God giving Moses a pattern for the tabernacle and the holy vessels, while they were encamped at Mount Sinai for nearly a year,  and they made the tabernacle and all the holy vessels during that period of time as given in Exodus chapters twenty five through forty.  In Hebrews8:1-5, it is spoken of as a pattern of the “true tabernacle.” Reading from chapter eight, beginning with verse one of the book of Hebrews, "Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this:  We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."  The first compartment of the tabernacle was a type of the church, and the second was a type of heaven. "For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices:  Wherefore it was necessary that this high priest also have somewhat to offer.  Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing that there are those who offer the gifts according to the law."  Most of the Jewish people were still trying to worship according to the Old Testament law when this Hebrews was written, but the  law was fulfilled when Christ died on the cross (Colossians 2:14).  "Who served that which is the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses is warned of God when he is about to make the tabernacle:  For, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the mountain that I showed thee in the mount."  The latter part of verse five is a quotation of Exodus 25:40.  After God had given him instruction for the making of the tabernacle and the holy vessels, he told him, you make everything according to the pattern showed thee in the mount.  And Moses and the people of Israel made everything according to the pattern.  It was very important that they make everything according to the pattern because it prefigured the true tabernacle that was to come, the church, and the second division heaven.  So back to verse forty-four, "Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, even as he had appointed, who spake unto Moses, that he had make it according to the figure that he had spake it."  So figure is used in this reference instead of pattern.  "Which also our fathers in there turn brought in with Joshua when they entered on the possession of the nations, that God thrust out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David."  They carried the tabernacle and the holy vessels into the land when they went into the land of Canaan, and after that period of initial conquest, they set up the tabernacle at Shiloh.  God had already given them instruction that the place where he would have them set up the tabernacle would be the only rightful place for them to offer sacrifices for sin, and other sacrifices to God, and  would be the only rightful place for them to go and keep the three annual feasts.  And it is Joshua, I think chapter 18:1, that says that they set up the tabernacle at Shiloh. 

 

Reading from Joshua 18:1, "And the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle there.  And the land was subdued before them."  So after that initial conquest of the land, they set up the tabernacle at Shiloh.  For more than three hundred years, that was the place of worship for the people of Israel.  And then in the days of Eli, his sons serving as priest were vile men, so the priesthood was corrupted,  and the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant.  The ark of the covenant gave them a lot of trouble, and finally they decided that they had better send that ark of the covenant back to the land of Israel, but it never did go back to Shiloh.  I Samuel 5:1-7:1 This was the beginning of God destroying Shiloh as a place of worship.  I believe it is in the book of Jeremiah, that God through Jeremiah, warning them if they did not repent that he would  destroy the temple in Jerusalem, and reminded them how that he had already destroyed Shiloh as a place of worship. Jeremiah 7:12-15 All right,  David found favor in the sight of the Lord Acts 7:45-46.  After David became king, you remember his first attempt to carry the ark to Jerusalem, it failed because they were carrying it on an ox cart, instead of carrying it by the staves on the shoulders of two Kohathites of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 4:5-6, 4:15; II Samuel 6:1-2 But David then did his homework and found out how that the ark was to be properly carried.  And the second attempt, they were successful in carrying it to Jerusalem (I Chronicles 15:1-4, 15:13-15, 16:1).  And David had built a tent for the ark of the covenant.  I said tabernacle, but the ark of the covenant. 

 

Acts 7:46, "So David found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation for the God of Jacob.  Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in houses made with hands; as saith the prophet, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is at my feet:  What manner of house will ye build me?  Saith the Lord:  Or what is the place of my rest?  Did  not my hand make all these things?"  And that is from Isaiah chapter sixty-six, beginning with verse one.  And in Solomon's prayer of dedication as given in I Kings chapter eight, he called attention to the fact that God would not dwell in a temple made with his hands.  He said, “the heavens cannot contain thee, much less this house that I have built.  Now Stephen comes to the conclusion and he  condemns  the court.  Verse fifty-one, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit:  As your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute?  And they killed them that showed before of the coming of the Righteous One  of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers."  They were murderers of the Son of God.  "Ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not."  So they did not keep the law.  They rejected their leaders.  And Stephen said you're just like your father, you are uncircumcised in heart and ears.  You go contrary to the way of the Lord in everything. 

 

Acts 7:54, "Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and gnashed upon him with their teeth.  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God."  I believe in every other reference, Christ is spoken of as being seated at the right hand of God, but in  this one reference, he is standing at the right hand of God, showing that he is concerned about what is happening to this faithful servant Stephen.  "And saying, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.  But they cried out with aloud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed upon him with one accord. And they cast him out of the city, and stoned him:  And their witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul."  And this is the Saul of Tarsus that is later referred to as Paul from Acts thirteen.  "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  And that is one of the seven statements that Jesus made while he was on the cross.  "And he kneeled down, cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."  And again that is one of the seven statements that Jesus had made while on the cross, for the Lord not to lay the sins of those who were crucifying him to their charge.  "And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was consenting unto his death."  And Paul speaks of himself later as the chief of sinners because he persecuted the church of God, and tried to destroy it, I Timothy chapter one.  Saul was a young man when Stephen was stoned to death, and he was consenting unto his death, and those who stoned him laid down their garments at his feet.  And going back to verse fifty-eight, "They cast him out of the city and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul." 

 

Chapter Eight

"And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church, which was in Jerusalem.  And they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."  And so the disciples, except the apostles, were scattered abroad in the land of Canaan, as stated here, Judaea and Samaria, so that would be the land of Canaan.  "And devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him.  But Saul, laid waste the church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women committing them to prison."  The King James reads Saul made havoc of the church, committing both men and women to prison.  "They therefore that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word.  But Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ."  Let me emphasize again that no signs, miracles, and wonders were done by anyone except the twelve apostles until they laid their hands on those seven men that were chosen to take care of this distribution of food to the Grecian widows.  we have read in Acts 6:8, "That Stephen full of grace, and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people."  And he spoke with such wisdom that they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake, verse ten.  In this reading, we have another one of those seven, and he also has miraculous powers. Acts 8:5, " And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ."  Do you remember how Jesus told his apostles to tarry in Jerusalem until they received that outpouring of the Holy Spirit and received power.  He said the power would come upon them when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8), and the kingdom of God was to come with power (Mark 9:1).  And so they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the world.  So the gospel was first preached in Jerusalem, and then in Judea and now it is time to carry the gospel to Samaria, and Philip does that. 

 

Acts 8:6, "And the multitude gave heed with one accord those things that were spoken by Philip, when they heard and saw the signs which he did.  For from many of those that had unclean spirits, they came out, crying with a loud voice, and many that were palsied, and that were lame, were healed.  And there was much joy in that city.  But there was a certain man."  In the gospel book and in the book of Acts, Luke uses that word certain several times.  "But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who beforetime in the city used sorcery, and amazed the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one."  In other words, he was by his sorcery or by his magic, he was fooling the people, and evidently making them think that he had some kind of divine power, and he must have profited by his magic in a big way.  Verse ten, "To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that great power of God.  Which is called great."  So they were ready to attribute to Simon the sorcerer miraculous power when he did not have any miraculous power, but he was a sorcerer or a magician.  He must have been very good.  "And they gave heed to him, because of long time he had amazed them with his sorceries."  A good magician can still amaze us today.  They can surely make things look like they are actually happening when they are not.  Several years ago a magician made it look like he was taking down the Empire State Building.  They can really pull some good ones.  "But when they believed Philip's preaching, good tidings concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."  So what did Philip preach to the Samaritans?  He preached good tidings or good news concerning the kingdom of God in the name of Jesus Christ.  There is absolutely something in a name as set forth here, and also in Acts 4:12, Peter said to that Sanhedrin court, "This is the stone, which was set at nought of you builders, which is also become the head of the corner.  Neither is thy salvation in any other:  For there is no other name given under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."  So if man is saved, he is saved in the name of Christ.  He must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and must be obedient to him in order to be saved.  So Philip was preaching good news concerning the kingdom of God and in the name of Jesus Christ, and they were being baptized both men and women. 

 

Of course, the Bible teaches that baptism, in order for it to be baptism that will save a person, must be preceded by faith, repentance and confession.  All of the references show that baptism is that last step which puts one into Christ, where one receives remission of sins (Acts 3:38).  If one can be saved outside of Christ and outside of Christ's church or the church of God, then one can be saved without baptism.  But if one cannot be saved outside of Christ and  his church, then he cannot be saved without baptism because baptism puts one into Christ.  Remember those references, Romans 6:3-7, Galatians 3:26-27, and baptism also puts one into the church.  I Corinthians 12:13 reads, "For by one Spirit, were we all baptized into one body."  And that one body is the church, Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4-5 and Colossians 1:18.  So scriptural baptism puts one into Christ and into Christ's church.  But remember that Paul wrote two letters to the church of God which is at Corinth.  The church of God is just as scriptural and correct as the church of Christ.  I am not advocating that we take down our signs because there are  those churches known as the church of God who teach several things contrary to the Lord’s doctrine.  Okay.  When men are baptized into Christ, they receive according to Acts 2:38 an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a non-miraculous indwelling.  when those people on that day of Pentecost said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Peter said, repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for or unto the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is unto you and your children, and to them that are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him."  God is still calling men unto salvation through the preaching and teaching of the gospel.  The word of God is the seed of the kingdom as given by Luke (Luke 8:11).  And just as long as the good news of the gospel is preached sincerely and correctly, the kingdom of God will be enlarged. 

 

Acts 8:12, "Now when  the apostles in Jerusalem heard about the Samaritans receiving the word of God, and they sent forth unto them Peter and John."  Why?  To lay their hands on them and to give them miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit.  The apostles by the laying on of their hands, as this reference shows very plainly, could give miraculous gifts to others by the laying on of their hands.  I Corinthians 12:4-11 enumerates nine miraculous gifts that could be given by the laying on of the apostles' hands, and so that is the purpose for which Peter and John went to Samaria.  Now, remember that Philip had miraculous powers, as we have already read, but he could not transfer those miraculous powers to others or else it would not have been necessary for Peter and John to go down.  Verse fifteen, "Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit."  Now, the following verses show that they might receive the Holy Spirit in a miraculous form.  "For as yet it was fallen upon none of them:  Only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands, the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money."  Simon must have been thinking about how he had fooled the people back there with his magic, or my sorcery, how I could make money, if I had this gift, if I could lay my hands on others and give them miraculous gifts.  "Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.  But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to have obtained the gift of God with money.  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter:  For thy heart is not right before God." 

 

Okay.  Notice again that it is Peter that gives what we have referred to as the second law of pardon for Christians.  Remember when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, and Jesus responded as given in Matthew chapter sixteen, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I say unto Peter, that upon this rock."  That bedrock of truth, that he is the Christ.  "I will build my church; and the gates of Hades, shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:  And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:  And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Some of our brethren are ready to pretty well say that Peter didn't have anything different from the other apostles because what all of the apostles taught on earth was bound in heaven, and that much is true.  But there is still special significance that Peter would be the one to have the key.  And a key is used in two primary ways, one, to unlock something, and, two, to give the answer.  I remember back when I was in, I guess, in junior high that we had a lot of workbooks back in those days to fill out, and the teacher had a key.  And what was that key?  It gave the answers to all the math problems or whatever subject we had a wordbook for.  And so Peter used the key to unlock the kingdom of God on Pentecost to the Jews, and it has been unlocked ever since.  He gave the answer, when they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the other apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?  And Peter gave the answer, and here he gives the second law of pardon.  In Acts ten, we will read about Peter being sent to preach to the Gentiles to carry the gospel to them.  So there is real significance in Peter having the keys of the kingdom. 

 

Simon had believed and was baptized, so he had been saved (Mark 16:16).  But here he is doing wrong because of his greedy thinking.  He did not need to be baptized again, but he needed to repent and pray to God for God to forgive him of his sins.  Remember also  I John, chapter 1:8-9, where John said, "But if we say that we have so sins, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he is just and righteous to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  When Christians learn that they  have done wrong, they are to do the same thing that Peter says here, they are to repent and confess their sins, and God will forgive them of their sins.  Remember that when a person has been scripturally baptized, he does not need to be baptized again.  "Repent and pray to God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."  So Simon was surely in a bad state of sin as stated in verse twenty-three.  "And Simon answered, and said,"  So he repents and asked Peter to pray for him.  "Pray ye for me, to the Lord, that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me.  Acts 8:25, They, therefore when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem and preached the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans."  See, the gospel had already been carried to the Jewish people in Jerusalem and Judaea, and  it is now time for the gospel to be preached to the Samaritans, according to those marching orders of Jesus as given in Acts 1:8. 

 

Next we read about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.  And remember that this is during the miraculous age of the church, and an angel of the Lord had a part in the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, and the Holy Spirit had a part.  But it was Philip, an earthen vessel, that told him what he needed to do in order to be saved.  So picking up with verse twenty-six, "But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, the same is desert."  Do you remember the location of Gaza, bordering on the Mediterranean sea?  And so the angel is telling Philip to leave that populous city of Samaria and go to Gaza, go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, the same as desert, and Philip does as the angel directs him to do.  "And he arose and went:  And, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority of the Candace queen of the Ethiopians who was over all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship.  And he was returning and sitting in his chariot and was reading the prophet Isaiah."  This Ethiopian eunuch was as we call it today the Secretary of the Treasury.  This eunuch would be a castrated man. 

 

The Old Testament scriptures show that it was the custom of many countries to have eunuchs that were made eunuchs by surgery to serve in places of government.  In II Kings chapter twenty we read about how Hezekiah, after God had sent forth an angel, and for all practical purposes had destroyed the Assyrian army in one night.  The statement is made that, “When men arose, those were all the dead bodies.”  And after that Hezekiah became puffed up in spirit, and when representatives were sent from Babylon, he showed them everything in his house.  God sent the prophet Isaiah to him to tell him that the time was coming when everything in his house would be carried to Babylon, and some of his sons would be made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.  It was fulfilled when Daniel and those other three fine Hebrews (Daniel 1:1-7) were carried into Babylonian captivity in the first carrying away.  The last carrying away was 586 BC.  I have forgotten the date right now of the first carrying away, but anyway they were the first ones carried into captivity.  The king of Babylon had the chief of the eunuchs to choose some of the finest of those descendants of the king, and, of course, they were made eunuchs, and they put were put through three years of training  to be officials in the government of Babylon.  That seems to have been the pattern of a number of countries to have eunuchs to serve in certain capacities as officials of government..  And, of course, they would not be married.  They would not have a wife and children, and so they could really give themselves to the affairs of government. A brief recess was taken.

 

I believe it is time for us to pick up with -- I believe we were reading Acts 8:27, "And he arose and went:   Behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all of her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship.  And he was returning, sitting in his chariot and was reading the prophet Isaiah."  The reading shows that the eunuch was a very religious and humble man. He was a ranking official of the Ethiopian government, but he had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning, riding along in his chariot reading from the prophet Isaiah.  And notice that verse twenty-nine shows that the Holy Spirit had a part in his conversion.  "And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to the chariot."  Now in this day in time, an angel of the Lord does not direct gospel preachers where they are to go and preach, neither does the Holy Spirit give them direct instructions, that is no instruction that is not recorded in the word of God.  But this is during the miraculous age of the church that Paul speaks of in I Corinthians 13:11-12 and Ephesians 4:7-16 as being the childhood age of the church.  We will probably get around to talking about that some at a later date.  The eunuch has been to worship, and going back home, riding along in his chariot and reading from the prophet Isaiah, but he does not understand what he is reading. 

 

Acts 8:29, "And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?"  And again his response shows that he is a humble person.  "And he said, How can I, except someone should guide me.  And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him."  That adds to the story!  He invites Philip to get in the chariot with him, and they are riding along in that chariot, and the eunuch has his Bible open at Isaiah 53:7.  "Now the passage of the scripture which he was reading was, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so opened he not his mouth.  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away."  The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is that great chapter where Isaiah was guided by the Holy Spirit to give  details concerning the death of Christ more than seven hundred years before Christ was born of the virgin Mary,   and the whole chapter is talking about Christ.  He is at Isaiah 53:7 where he is reading about Christ, “as the lamb before his shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was not taken away.  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this?  Of himself, or some other."  So this eunuch had a good spirit.  I do not understand what the prophet is talking about.  "Will you tell me, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this?  Of himself, or of some other?  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, and preached unto him Jesus."  He could not have had a better place to begin with because this chapter is telling about Christ, the one who would die for the sins of all of mankind, going back to Isaiah 53:4, “We all like sheep have gone astray, and God had laid upon him the iniquity of us all.”  So a great chapter for him to begin with to preach unto him Jesus.  Now, I have heard some reason that that is what the preacher should do, just preach Jesus, and some of them that made that statement do not preach and emphasize that baptism is essential to salvation.  Let me say as plainly and as kindly as I know how that a preacher can not preach Jesus to alien sinners without preaching that scriptural baptism by the authority of Jesus is for the remission of sins Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38, 10:48,16:31-34, 18:8, 22:16). In light of all the evidence how can sincere preachers continue to preach the false doctrine that men are saved by faith only and that baptism is not essential to salvation!

 

Notice the reading, "Preached unto him Jesus.  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water:  And the eunuch said, Behold, here is water.  What doth hinder me to be baptized?"  The New American Standard has that punctuation a little different with an exclamation point; in other words, the eunuch was excited when he saw water.  What doth hinder me to be baptized?  How does he know anything about baptism?  Does it not strictly imply that Philip had taught to him that Jesus was the one to come, and that he had taught that Jesus had commanded that men are to believe on him and be baptized for the remission of their sins.  Remember Mark 16:15-16, "Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be condemned."  So the eunuch is happy when they come to a place of water.  I remember reading some Sunday School literature a number of years ago of a denominational church that practices sprinkling for baptism, and it was about this passage, and it said this is desert country, and there was no water there.  And what occurred was they had, I believe, it said a jug of water in the chariot, and Philip took some of that water and sprinkled the eunuch.  Well, if it was a jug that they had in the chariot, then that was a real big jug.  For verse thirty-six says -- No, verse thirty-eight, "And he commanded the chariot to stand still:  And they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." If it was a matter of having a jug of water in the chariot, it was big enough for Philip and the eunuch to go down into and come out of.  It looks like that jug would be too big to ride in a little chariot.  That much water would be too heavy for that chariot!  And verse thirty-six, "And they came unto a certain water:  And the eunuch said, Behold, here is water.  What doth hinder me to be baptized?"  Now, the American Standard Version of 1901 does not have any of verse thirty-seven in the text, but it has in the footnote.  The King James Version reads, “And Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  But I notice that the New American Standard Bible has put that back in the text, and I think rightly so, that the Ethiopian eunuch made that good confession.  At first he was asked by Philip if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And remember one must have real genuine faith in order to be saved.  Hebrews 11:6, "For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."  And Jesus said, “Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins., and where I go, ye cannot come. (John 8:24).  And further Jesus said, "He that confesses me before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven.  He that denieth me before men, he that deny him will I deny before my Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 10:32)  So at least this is in agreement with what the Bible teaches that one must have genuine faith in Christ, that one must confess Christ before men (I Timothy 6:12). The eunuch knew that he needed to be baptized in order to be saved.

 

Acts 8:38, “And he commanded the chariot to stand still, and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.”  There is hardly a statement with real importance that somebody has not tried to change.  But just look at the text, they came unto a certain water.  And remember in regard to the feeding of the five thousand, they were in desert country, and the Lord had them sit down in companies on the green grass.  And so a desert does not always mean that it is always a dry place where there is no water and where nothing is growing, but it may mean a deserted place where only a few people live, or a place that the people moved from.  Some have raised the question, who baptized who?  Well, who wanted to be baptized?  It was the eunuch that wanted to be baptized, and so Philip baptized him.  Both Philip and the eunuch and he, referring back to Philip, baptized him.  "And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more.  For he went on his way rejoicing."  And, my, he had a right to rejoice.  He knew that he had obeyed Christ, and that he had been saved from his sins.  And even though the Spirit caught away Philip and sent him somewhere else, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.  "But Philip was found at Azotus:  And passing through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."  And in Acts chapter twenty-one, when Paul was on the way with the messengers of the churches to Jerusalem to carry the bounty, they visited Philip.  It looks like he made Caesarea his permanent home. 

Chapter Nine

 "But Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and ask of him letters to Damascus and to the synagogue, that if he found any that were of the Way, whether men or women, that he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."  Damascus, the capital of Syria, bordered the land of Israel is on the northeast.  So Saul is going to a foreign country.  He is so jealous in the persecution of the church, that he goes to the high priest and has him to give him letters to the rulers of the synagogues, and if he found any that were believers in Christ, he would bind them, and that was his intent, to bind them and carry them back to Jerusalem and put them in prison.  "And ask of him letters to Damascus and to the synagogues that if he found any that were of the Way."  Of course, that would be the way of Christ.  "Whether men or women, he might bring them bound  to Jerusalem.  And as he journeyed, it came to pass that he drew nigh unto Damascus:  And suddenly there shown round about him a light out of heaven:  And he fell upon the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  And he said, Who art thou, Lord?  And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:  But rise and enter into the city, and it shall  be told thee what thou must do."  Many are ready to say you don't have to do anything except believe on the Lord and pray to the Lord.  Well, what was Saul told to do?  We will read about that further when we finish this paragraph.  So the Lord told Saul to go on into the city, and “it shall be told thee what thou must do.”  So there is something that every individual must do in order to be saved.  As Peter exhorted the people on that day of Pentecost, in that first sermon, “with many other words did he testify and exhort saying, save yourselves from this crooked and perverse generation (Acts 2:40).”  So there is something that people must do in order to save themselves.

 

Acts 9:7,  "And the men that journey with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but beholding no man.  And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing:  And they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  And he was three days without sight, and did neither eat nor drink."  Saul had thought that Christ was an imposter, and had spent several years there trying to destroy the church.  And here the Lord appears to him in the way, and then he knowsthat he is a great sinner before God.  And notice that it is shown by the fact that he did not eat or drink until he was told what to do in order to be saved.  And we need to turn next to Acts chapter twenty-two, where Paul was making his defense before the Jewish people after he had been arrested.  Acts twenty-two, as he was going up the stairs into the castle where the soldiers were kept, he asked permission to speak to the people, and he was given permission. Acts 22:3, He is saying to his Hebrew brethren in their language, "I am a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia, brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous toward God, even as ye are all are this day.  And I persecuted this way unto the death." There is no telling how many people had been put to death, in part because of the work of Saul of Tarsus.  "Unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.  And also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders:  From whom also I received letters unto the brethren, journeyed to Damascus, to bring them also that were bound unto Jerusalem, in bonds to be punished.  And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and drew nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shown from heaven a great light round about me.  And I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest, and they that were with me beheld indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.  And I said, What shall I do, Lord?"  Notice verse ten, that Saul had asked the question in substance, what must I do to be saved?  "And I said, what shall I do Lord?  And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there shall it be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.  And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.  And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well-reported of by all the Jews that dwelt there, came unto me, and standing by me, said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight.  And in that very hour I looked upon him.  And he said, The God of our fathers hath appointed thee to know his will, and see the Righteous One, and hear the voice of his mouth.  For thou shalt be a witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.  And now why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name."  And so what was Saul told to do in order to be saved?  He was told to arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.  Well, on Pentecost they were told to repent, and be baptized. In Acts sixteen, the Philippian jailer was told to believe.  And so three times the question is asked and answered, and each time they were given an answer.  Why did Ananias not tell Saul to believe on the Lord?  He had seen the Lord in the way.  He surely knew that Jesus was the Christ after the Lord appeared to him.  Why did he not tell him to repent?  Three days and three nights, he had fasted, and he had been praying, which shows his repentance, and all that he lacked was that he needed to arise and be baptized.  "Why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, washing away thy sins, calling on his name."  "And it came to pass when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I had prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance; and saw one saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem:  For they will not receive the testimony concerning me.  And I said, Lord, they themselves know that I am imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee.  And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I was standing by consenting and keeping his garments of them that slew him.  And he said unto me, Depart.  For I send thee forth, far hence unto the Gentiles."  And notice verse twenty-two, "And they gave him audience unto this word."  When he said that God sent him far into the Gentiles, they lifted up their voices and said, “away with such a fellow of the earth, for it is not fit that he should live.” 

 

Back to Acts 9:10, st"Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias.  And the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias.  And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.  And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus:  For, behold he prayeth.  And he hath seen a vision of a man named Ananias coming in, and laying his hands on him, that he might receive his sight.  But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many of this man, how much evil he did to thy saints at Jerusalem.  And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon thy name.  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way:  For he is a chosen vessel unto me.  Bear my name before the Gentiles, and the kings, and the children of Israel:  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake.  And Ananias departed, and entered into the house; and laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared unto the way in which thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales:  And he received his sight, and he arose, and was baptized.  And he took food and was strengthened." 

 

Now, I would guess that if you should go to an average city in the United States and start asking the preachers of the city, “why did Christ appear to Saul of Tarsus when he was on the road to Damascus?” Many of them would say to save him.  Well, Saul was saved by learning that Jesus was the Christ, but the primary reason why the Lord appeared to him, as stated here and also in chapter twenty-two and twenty-six of this book, was to make him an eyewitness of the resurrection of Christ, to make him an apostle.  Look at verse fifteen, "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way:  For he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and the kings and children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake."  So Saul is being chosen as an apostle, chiefly as an apostle to the Gentiles.  And in order for him to be an apostle, he had to be an eyewitness of the resurrection of Christ.  And again notice from where we read in Acts twenty-two, that he needed to be an eyewitness of Christ to qualify him as an apostle.  Acts 22:14, "And he said, And the God of our fathers hath appointed thee, to know thy will, and see the Righteous One, and shouldest hear the voice from his mouth.  For thou shalt be a witness of him unto all men of who thou hast seen and heard."  So verse fifteen emphasizes again that the Lord appeared to him to make him an eyewitness and to qualify him as an apostle. 

 

Turn next to Acts chapter twenty-six, when Paul was making his defense before king Agrippa.  Let us pick up with Acts 26:9, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And this I also did in Jerusalem.  And I both shut up many of the saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my vote against them.  And punishing them oft in times in all of the synagogues, I strove to make them blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto foreign cities.  Whereupon as I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them that journeyed with me.  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  And I said, Who art thou, Lord?  And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest?  But arise, and stand upon thy feet."  Now this is really the clincher.  "For to this end have I appeared unto thee to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things whereof I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee.  To open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by these in me."  And so the emphasis is that the primary reason was to qualify him as an apostle.  And in I Corinthians chapter fifteen, when Paul was talking about some of the appearances that Christ made during that forty-day period before his ascension, verse six says, "And when he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James."  And that would be James the Lord's brother.  He was made an apostle during that forty day period before the ascension of Christ (I Corinthians 15:6, Galatians 1:18-19).  "And then to all of the apostles, and last of all as to the child untimely born, me, he was seen of me also."  All right.  And see it was a number of years after Pentecost when the Lord appeared to him, so he speaks of it as a child untimely born, or born out of due season.  "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all:  Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 

 

So Paul is surely comparing himself with the twelve apostles when he says, but I labored more abundantly than they all.  And in II Corinthians chapter twelve, even the better element in the church had not stood up for Paul like they should have and defended his apostleship.  And he had to resort to what he speaks of as foolishness.  And he tells about that in chapter 12:1-10, how that he was caught up into the third heaven, in paradise, and heard unspeakable words which is not lawful for a man to utter.  And verse seven, "And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted over abundance, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted above much.  Concerning this thing that I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  For my power is made perfect in weakness."  And then picking up with verse eleven, "I am become foolish; ye have compelled me:  For I ought to have been commended of you:  For in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing.  Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works."  So Paul had received a baptism of the Holy Spirit as well as the other apostles as shown that he demonstrated that he was speaking the truth of God by signs and wonders and mighty works.  And by the laying on of his hands, he could give gifts to other Christians.  "And what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except it be that I myself was not a burden to you?  Forgive me this wrong."  And that was sarcasm.  And Paul had not taken any support from the Corinthians, and he goes into more detail about that in II Corinthians 11:7-15

 

I read from some of our brethren who say that Paul is comparing himself to those false apostles, to those superlative apostles as some of the newer versions read.  Well, he is definitely referring to himself in comparison to the other apostles, in I Corinthians 15:15 we read there, “that he labored more abundantly than they all.”  He labored more abundantly than the twelve.  How could he compare himself with those false apostles that are mentioned in chapter eleven, as false apostles, deceitful workers? Let us turn back and read that.  II Corinthians 11:5, "For I reckon that I'm not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles."  Well, if he is comparing  himself with those false apostles, would that mean that he is teaching false doctrine just as well as they were?  He is not comparing himself with those false apostles as spoken of in verse thirteen and fourteen where he  says, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transferring themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed himself into an angel of light.  It is no great thing; therefore that his ministers also fashioned themselves as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."  And, of course, that means eternal destruction for them.  It is t not correct in any sense to have Paul comparing himself with those false apostles.  That would have Paul saying in substance, I am serving the devil in a greater way than they are.  But verse eleven and twelve again of chapter twelve, "I am become foolish; ye have compelled me:  For I ought to have been commended of you:  For in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing.  Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty works.  For what is it wherein ye were made inferior."  And again that's sarcasm.  "Except it be that I myself was not a burden to you?  Forgive me this wrong."  And if you turn back and read II Corinthians 11:7-15, you ought to understand more about what he is talking about there.  So the Lord appeared to Saul on the way to Damascus to qualify him as an eyewitness, to make him as an apostle to all men, but especially as an apostle to the Gentiles. 

 

So back to chapter nine, and let's pick up with verse seventeen, "And Ananias went into his house; and laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit."  And the fact that Paul had those signs and wonders and by the laying on of his hands, he could give gifts to others shows that he was a full-fledged apostle, and this means he had that baptismal measure of the Holy Spirit.  Now, some have reasoned that the Holy Spirit was given to him by Ananias.  But Ananias, according to the reading, when he laid his hands on, he was to receive his sight and be filled with the Holy  Spirit.  But the Holy Spirit would not be given by the laying on of Ananias' hand because miraculous gifts were given only by the laying on of the hands of the apostles.  Acts 9:17 would mean that at the time of his conversion, he was given a baptismal measure as spoken of at the time of his conversion.  Ananias laid his hands on him and he received his sight.  And he arose and he was baptized and he took food and was strengthened.  "And he was certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus.  And straightway in the synagogues."  So there was more than one synagogue at Damascus.  He was in a foreign country, and there were enough Jews that there was more than one synagogue in the city of Damascus.  "Straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus that he is the Son of God.  And all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that in Jerusalem made havoc of him that called on his name, and he had come hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound before the chief priests?  But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ."  How was he proving that Jesus was the Christ?  By the use of the Old Testament scriptures, of those many prophecies concerning Christ that had been fulfilled.  "And when many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:  But their plot became known to Saul.  And they watched the gates day and night that they might kill him.  Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket."  We do not have but two or three more minutes for this class.  And so I would like to stop here and count our beginning with 9:23 because we need to read some other references to show that this was a long time after his conversion that it is speaking of in verses twenty-three and twenty-five.  Thank you for your good attention.