Southern Christian University

Acts Class Session #06

James A. Turner

 

Please turn to Acts chapter nine.  We will begin with verse twenty-two.  We are down to verse twenty-three, but we will back up to verse twenty-two.  Acts 9:22 beginning, "But Paul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ."  Now, whether Paul was speaking entirely by inspiration or whether he had such knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, that once he learned that Christ was not an imposter that he could use the Old Testament scriptures to show that Jesus was Christ, I do not know.  The Holy Spirit would need to give him what he already had, but surely he knew how.  If he did not already know the Old Testament scriptures, then he was guided by the Holy Spirit to speak those things that he needed to speak.  And so he confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ.  "And when many days were fulfilled."  Now, why does Luke say when many days were fulfilled?  If we had only this account we would conclude that Paul stayed at Damascus until they were ready to kill him, but we know differently from the reading from Galatians chapter one.  Let us read a few verses.  "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 also day and night that they might kill him.  But his disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall lowering him in a basket." 

 

Please turn to Galatians chapter one, and we learn from this reference that Paul went away into Arabia and then back to Damascus.  And that must be the reason why Luke says, and when many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him.   That would allow for what we will read here from Galatians chapter one.  Galatians chapter one, beginning with verse fifteen, he is talking about that he received the gospel by revelation of Jesus Christ.  "But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me even from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood."  Meaning that he did not confer with any person as to what he needed to teach that it was given to him by the Holy Spirit, by revelation of Jesus Christ as he has already said.  Going back to verse twelve, "For  neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through the revelation of Jesus Christ."  Back to verse sixteen, "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood:  Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me; but I went away into Arabia, and again I returned unto Damascus." 

 

It looks like that would be when he returned to Damascus that we are reading about in Acts 9:23.  "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days.  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."  And then in II Corinthians chapter eleven, the latter part of that chapter where he talks about many things that he had suffered for the cause of Christ.  Verse thirty-two reads, "In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of Damascenes in order to take me:  And through a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands."  Some of the walls of the cities back in that day were wide enough that people built houses, or part of their houses, on the wall.  Sometimes the houses would extend out even over the wall.  So they let him down in a basket, through a window.  They let him down in a basket by the wall as stated here.  So we will read those verses again, twenty-three and twenty-five, "And when many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel together to kill him:  But their plot became known to Saul.  And they watched the gates also day and night that they might kill him.  But his disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.  And when he was come to Jerusalem."  That must be the same time that is spoken of there in Galatians 1:17-18, when he went up and visited with Peter.  But the only other apostle that he saw was James the Lord's brother.  "And when he was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples.  And they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple."  I believe we can well understand that.  Think how that he sought to destroy the church.  Saul had  made it his business to enter into all of the synagogues and bind those that were of the Christian way and put them in prison, and when trial came, he gave his voice against them.  "But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus."  

 

Please remember from verse twenty-seven that Saul and Barnabas had had some association prior to the time that the gospel was preached to the Gentiles at Antioch of Syria and Barnabas goes to Tarsus to seek Saul to help him.  Verse twenty-eight, "And he was with them going in and going out at Jerusalem."  And so Barnabas did a good job in presenting Saul to the apostles.  And he brought him to the apostles and declared unto them, how he had seen the Lord in the way, and how at Damascus he preached boldly in the name of Jesus.  "And he was with them, (The disciples at Jerusalem) going in and going out at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.  And he spake and disputed against the Grecian Jews."  The Grecian Jews would be Jews from Gentile territory.  "But they were seeking to kill him.  And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus."  Now Tarsus of Cilicia was Paul's home, so they sent him home.  They brought him down to Caesarea and sent him forth to Tarsus.  So he was at Tarsus when Barnabas went over there to get him to assist him in the work at that first Gentile church of Antioch of Syria.  "So the churches throughout all of Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, had peace being edified; and walking in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied."  You might want to underscore was multiplied.  Remember how that we have already called attention to the fact that there must have been at least twenty thousand Jews that obeyed when we read from that last reference in Acts 6:7, "And the word of God increased; and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly."  Remember Acts 4:4, "And the number of men came to be five thousand."   

 

Let us look at verse thirty-one again, So the church through out  Judaea and Galilee and Samaria.  had peace, being edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit was multiplied. The second part of the orders of Christ were carried out when Philip went to preach to the Samaritans.  "And he said you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth."  And so two of them were already fulfilled.  "And the disciples being edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and comfort of the Holy Spirit was multiplied  See how those things go together.  Christians can have that inward peace that surpasses understanding that Paul speaks of in the Philippian letter.  They were edified, and walked in the fear of the Lord.   They were being taught, and they were living according to the teaching, because it says walking in the fear of the Lord.  "And in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied.  And it came to pass, as Peter went throughout all parts, he came down also to the saints that dwelt at Lydda.  And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had kept his bed eight years, for he was palsied."  He had a severe case of palsy, and was so afflicted with palsy that he had been bedridden for eight years.  "And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ healeth thee:  Arise, and make thy bed.  And straightway he arose.  And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and they turned to the Lord."  

 

Remember that one of the primary purposes of them having the miraculous power to perform miracles was to verify that they were from God giving the word of God to them.  That passage in Hebrews chapter two, how that their messages were confirmed by signs and wonders and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.  And so this is such a great miracle that the news spreads quickly.  The people at Lydda and Saron saw AEneas who had been bed ridden for eight years healed, and they “turned to the Lord,” which means that they were converted. 

 

Acts 9:36, "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas:  This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.  And it came to pass in those days, that she fell sick, and died:  And when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper chamber.  And as Lydda was nigh unto Joppa, the disciples hearing that Peter was there, sent two men unto him, entreating him to delay not to come on to us."  Those disciples must have been reasoning that if he healed Aeneas, that he can raise Dorcas from the dead?  It looks like to me that is the way they are reasoning.  And so they send to Joppa to have Peter to come to the upper chamber where they had laid Dorcas.  "And Peter arose and went with them.  And when he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber:  And all of the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them."  It looks like that Dorcas was such a woman that did all of her good works in a very humble manner, and probably the people did not recognize all that she had done until she died.  It is probable that one widow did not know that Dorcas had made coats for all of those other widows until Dorcas had died. .  But after her death, they were standing around weeping and talking about the garments that she had made for them.  Let us read that verse again.  "When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber:  And all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.  But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning to the body he said, Tabitha, arise.  And she opened her eyes:  And when she saw Peter, she sat up.  And he gave her his hand, and raised her up, and calling the saints and the widows, he presented her alive."  It does not mean that they thought that she was dead when she was not dead.  Luke, the beloved physician, is the writer, and he has already stated that she had died, and here he states that she is made alive.  When she saw Peter, she sat up.  "And he gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he calling the saints and the widows, he presented her alive.  And it became known throughout all Joppa; and many believed on the Lord."  So there is another increase.  "Many believed on the Lord.  And it came to pass, that he abode many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner." 

 

Chapter Ten

Chapter ten is about the conversion of Cornelius and his kinsmen and near friends.  Cornelius is set forth here as a centurion of the band called the Italian band.  This means that he was over a hundred soldiers of the Italian band.  And this means, of course, that he was a Gentile person.  In the gospel books and in the book of Acts, we read about several centurions, and all of them are spoken of  in a favorable way.  Cornelius is spoken of in a very favorable way.  And notice that he says that he was a devout man, verse two.  "One that feared God with all of his house, and one that gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always."  If a person is saved just by being a very religious man and by the giving of alms and praying to God, then Cornelius would have already been a saved man!  But this chapter shows that he was not saved, that he needed to send to Joppa to fetch Peter who would tell him, “words whereby he and his house could be saved (Acts 11:14).”  That particular statement is in chapter eleven rather than in chapter ten, but chapter ten shows that Peter spoke to them words, whereby they were saved.  "A devout man, one that feared God with all of his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.  He saw in a vision openly as it was about the ninth hour of the day."  Luke wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and he  is using Jewish time, and so that would be three o'clock in the afternoon.  And that is the time that the Jewish people prayed.  And do you remember from Luke chapter one about Zacharias in the temple, and the people were outside praying while Zacharias was offering incense in the temple.  I believe I am right.  Maybe I better check it.  I am reading from Luke 1:8, "And it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.  And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the hour of incense.  And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And Zacharias was troubled."  Well, it says that the time of the burning of incense, but that evidently was three o'clock in the afternoon because they were praying.  The people were waiting without, and they tarried.  Verse twenty-one, "The people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marveled while he tarried in the temple."  Maybe I was wrong on that. 

 

But, anyway, Cornelius is set forth as being a very fine person, and a very religious person.  And so he was praying at three o'clock.  He saw in a vision openly.  Verse three.  "As it were about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying, Cornelius.  And he fasted his eyes upon him, and being affrightened, said, What is it, Lord?  And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before God.  And now send men to Joppa, and fetch one Simon, whose surname is Peter."  You see Peter is at Joppa.  Remember Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter.  So Simon was staying with another Simon who was a tanner at Joppa.  "And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.  And now send men to Joppa and fetch one Simon, whose surnamed Peter.  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner."  And it is in the first chapter of John, where it is stated, that Jesus changed his name to Peter.  Reading from John 1:40, "One of the two that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith to him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  And he brought him unto Jesus.  And Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John:  Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, Peter."  And so I did remember that one right.  So Jesus had changed Simon's name to Peter. 

 

Acts 10:5, "And now  send men to Joppa, and fetch one Simon, whose surname is Peter.  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner whose house is by the seaside:  And when the angel that spake unto him was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and having rehearsed all things unto them, he sent them to Joppa."  And so Cornelius is a very sincere man as shown by the fact that he immediately calls two of his household servants and a devote soldier that waited on him and rehearsed to them the story and sent them to Joppa to fetch Peter.  "And on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city."  

 

Now, notice how the Lord times everything correctly for them to be knocking on the gate, just after Peter had received that vision from heaven.  They left immediately at around three o'clock in the afternoon, and they get there at dinnertime the next day.  "Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:  And he became hungry, and desired to eat:  But while they made ready, he fell into a trance."  It sounds like the ladies were a little late in getting dinner ready!  And Peter went upon the housetop, he is hungry, but they were late with dinner.  And he fell into a trance and received a vision.  "And behold the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were, a great sheet, let down by the four corners, and upon the earth:  Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and creeping things of the earth, and birds of the heaven."  Do you remember the rule for four-footed beasts as given in Leviticus 11:1-8  that whether they were clean or unclean. The clean parted the hoof and chewed the cud. Any other animal was unclean, creeping things were unclean and any bird that lived on prey or any kind of bird that eats dead animals was unclean. 

 

Acts 10:13, "And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat.  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean."  Mark said that Jesus made all meats clean (Mark 7:19), when he said not that which goeth into a man defileth a man.    Reading from Mark 7:18.  Jesus is talking to his disciples explaining what he had said to the multitude.  "And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also?  Perceive ye not, that whatsoever from without go into the man, it cannot defile him; because it goeth not into his heart, but into his belly, and goeth out into the draught.  This he said, making all meats clean."  So Jesus made meats clean.  At least he showed that they would be made clean.  They had been made clean, but it looks like from this that probably most of the Jewish people were still living by the Old Testament standards of the clean and the unclean of the animals,  or fish and foul.  So Peter responds, when a voice says, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."  Unclean animals, and unclean creeping things were on that sheet sent down from heaven.  And so Peter said, "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that are common or unclean." 

 

Don’t you know that those people that had lived under the law, and then when the gospel of Christ made all meats clean, that many of them had a problem of understanding that.  And I think all of us would have had a problem if we had been living by the standards of the law, and the law was changed and everything made clean.  That must have been the  problem that Paul was dealing with in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Romans.  In chapters eight and also in part of chapter ten of I Corinthians, Paul is dealing with the problems of those who thought that they were well-informed and wanted to go and eat at the feast of the idolaters.  That was the problem, very similar, but yet very different from the problem that Paul is dealing with in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Romans.  And let me read a little bit from it.  "But him that is weak in faith receive ye, yet not for a decision of scruples."  Some of the brethren lacked adequate knowledge.  They thought that it was wrong, evidently, to eat meats after they had been cleansed.  "One man has faith to eat all things, but he that is weak."  I think that is from the standpoint of not having adequate understanding.  "Eateth herbs.  Let not him that eateth set at nought him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth:  For God hath received him.  Who art thou that judgest the servant of another?  To his own Lord he standeth or falleth.  Yea, he shall be made to stand:  For the Lord   has the power to make him stand."  I like that statement there in verse four, talking about the weak brother that thought that it was wrong to eat meat when it was not wrong.  But Paul is telling those who have more knowledge, you receive them, but you do not receive them for a decision of their scruples.  And it further reads in the chapter that if they ate thinking that it was wrong to eat, then it would cause them to sin.  Let me read a few verses, beginning with verse nineteen, "So then let us follow after the things which make for peace, and the things whereby we may edify one another.  Overthrow not for meats' sake the work of God.  All things indeed are clean; howbeit it is evil for that man who eateth with offense." 

 

Now this principle still holds today.  There are people today who think that something is wrong when it is not wrong.  And these principles are to govern us today.  And so Paul is saying to those who have more knowledge, do not try to make fun of these people.  Do not treat them in such a way that would cause them to eat when they think it is wrong to eat meat.  "All things indeed are clean, howbeit it is evil for that man who eateth for offense.  It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth.  The faith which thou hast have to thyself before God.  Happy is he that judgest not himself in that which he approveth.  But he that doubteth is condemned because he eateth not of faith:  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."  You see if they were to run roughshod and make fun of them and cause them to go contrary to their conscience and eat, they would be causing them to sin.  And as he had already stated in the chapter, cause a man to be lost for whom Christ died.  But, anyway, I wanted you to at least think about it, how that it would be difficult for people who had lived from childhood, and say a man is fifty years of age and the law is changed, it would be hard for them to accept the fact that all meats had been cleansed. 

 

Acts 10:15, "And the voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thoucommon."  So the purpose of the vision of the sheet let down from heaven was to show that the Gentile people were not unclean, and that Peter was to go and preach to the Gentiles.  " And this was done thrice:  And straightway the vessel was received up into heaven."  Now, note how the Lord had timed everything perfectly.  "Now while Peter was much perplexed in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate.  And called, and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, was lodging there."  So while he was thinking about the meaning of the vision, the men are at the gate and asking if Peter is there.  "And while Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.  But arise, and get thee down, and go with them, nothing doubting:  For I have sent them."  

 

Now notice that, the Lord had sent them.  I can remember the day when many of the denominational churches, had a mourners' bench.  And people would go up to be prayed for, including the alien sinner, those who had never obeyed the gospel, and according to the teaching of that day, they would be saved by prayer.  And our brethren knew that that was wrong, and some of them went to the other extreme and taught that prayer does not have any part in an alien sinner’s salvation; and that is as bad or worse than the other.  Now, this reference in Acts10 and the conversion of  Lydia and her household or Acts 16, and  the Corinthians, show that prayer can very well have a part in one's salvation, but an alien sinner is not saved by prayer only.  Cornelius is a very sincere man, and God heard his prayer and answered it by sending Peter to him to tell him and  those gathered at his house what they needed to do in order to be saved.  Okay.  So Peter receives instruction, "Get thee down, go with them nothing doubting, for I have sent them. And Peter went down to the men and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek:  What is the cause wherefore ye are come.  And they said, Cornelius a centurion, a righteous man, and one that feareth God, and well-reported of by all nations of the Jews, was warned of God by a holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words from thee."  And we read chapter eleven, words whereby he and his house could be saved.  "So he called them in, and lodged them." 

 

The men left Cornelius’ house at about three o'clock in the afternoon, and they get to Simon the tanner's house and inquired for Peter at about 12:00 o’clock the next day.  They spent the night,   and then they start to Caesarea from Joppa.  So he called them in and lodged them.  "And on the morrow he arose and went forth with them; and certain of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him."  It is a good thing those brethren accompanied him, whether Peter had them to accompany him on the matter of his own judgment or whether he was guided by the Holy Spirit to have them go with him, I do not know, but  he surely would have been in trouble had those brethren from Joppa not accompanied him.  "And on the morrow they entered into Caesarea.  And Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his kinsmen and his near friends."  Again this shows how sincere Cornelius was.  He had been instructed to send to get Peter who would tell him words whereby he and his house could be saved.  Cornelius has gotten together his kinsmen and his near friends to hear those words whereby he and those present with him could be saved. 

 

Acts 10:26, "And when it came to pass that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him."  Peter did not think it was the proper thing, and he raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself also am a man."  The Catholics say that Peter was the first Pope. Well, Peter was not like the present Pope.  Pope John is ready for men to bow down and worship him.  Did you see how that many bowed down to him when he visited Canada on Children’s Day recently. Cornelius was ready to bow down to Peter, but Peter  would not allow it.  Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself also am a man.”  Twice as recorded in the Revelation, the apostle John was ready to bow down and worship an angel, and each time he was told not to.  Turn to Revelation 19:10.  Well, let us read verse nine and ten, "And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me, These are true words of God.  And I fell down before his feet to worship him.  And he saith unto me, See thou do it not:  I am a fellow servant with thee, and with thy brethren and hold the testimony of Jesus:  Worship God:  For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."  John was ready to worship an angel, and the angel told him not to, that we are fellow servants of God with thee.  And then in Revelation twenty-two is the other reference.  Let us pick up with verse six, "And he said unto me, These words are faithful and true:  And the Lord the God of the spirits of prophets, sent his angels to show unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass.  Behold, I come quickly:  Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book.  And I John am he that heard and saw these things.  And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that showed me these things.  And he saith unto me, See thou do it not.  I am a fellow servant with thee, and with thy brethren the prophets, and with them that keep the words of this book.  Worship God."  And so each time John was told when he was ready to worship an angel not to do so, that they were fellow servants of God and to worship God. 

 

And we know then that in the case of Moses and the burning bush that was not consumed, he was told to worship.  So that person was a divine person.  The scriptures teach that Christ was back there with the people of Israel (I Corinthians 10:4).  Again in Joshua chapter five, when Joshua went to meet the man that had a drawn sword, and asked him, art thou for us or against us?  Joshua was told by the man that he had come as “prince of the host of Jehovah” and Joshua was told, “Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place were in thou standest is holy (Joshua 5:13-15). This reference shows that it was Christ a divine person because he was told to worship.  But our time is up for the first period.  A brief break was taken.

 

I believe we were reading from Acts 10:26, "Peter raised him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man."  So men nor angels are not to be worshipped.  "And as he talked with him, he went in, and finding many come together.  And he said unto them, Ye yourselves know how it is unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to join himself, or come unto one of another nation; and yet unto me hath God showed that I should not call any man common or unclean. Wherefore also I came without gainsaying, when I was sent for:  I ask therefore for with what intent ye have sent for me?" So why did you send for me?  "And Cornelius said, Four days ago until this hour."  It looks like to me that actually it had been three twenty-four-hour periods.  They left Cornelius’ house at about at three o'clock in the afternoon, and they got to Simon’s house in Joppa  the next day at twelve o'clock.  They lodged at Simon's house that night, and then started on the way the next day.  It says on the morrow, he arose and went forth with them, and they got to Caesarea then at three o'clock in the afternoon.  So it looks like just three twenty-four-hour periods, but Cornelius said four days ago.  It is just thirty or thirty-five miles from Caesarea to Joppa, so it would surely be possible for them to make that in three twenty-four-hour periods.  And if that be the case, how would Cornelius speak of it as four days ago?  The answer is that the Jewish people counted part of a day as a day, and that holds in respect to Christ being in the grave three days. He was in the tomb  part of Friday and all day on Saturday, and he arose from the dead early on the first day of the week.  So it is one full day and part of two days, and it is spoken of as three days.  "And Cornelius said, Four days ago until this hour; I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer."  Well, this must be the passage that I was thinking about the ninth hour of prayer.  "And so the ninth hour of prayer in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright apparel.”  So he stood in the form of a man but in bright apparel.  The angels in Acts 1:10-11 stood by in white apparel.  "And saith, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard."  

 

Some of our brethren in days past built a case on what the blind man said when Jesus healed him, that God does not hear a sinner's prayer (John 9:31).  They joined John 9:31, and Ephesians 1:3, and I Peter 3:12, and came with the false doctrine that God does not hear the prayers of alien sinners. I heard at least one brother say, if you are not a Christian, it would not do you any good to pray.  Your prayer would not get higher than the ceiling of this building.  But Cornelius's prayer did!  Now, he was not saved by prayer only, but God saw to it that he got Peter to tell him words whereby he and his house could be saved.  The same thing with Lydia and her household. Paul was in Troas when he received a vision in the night of a man in Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us.” Immediately the went to Philippi of Macedonia. Where did they teach? At the river side where a prayer service was held. The first converts were Lydia and her household who went there for a prayer service. What are some of the primary things that the Bible teaches on this subject? Proverbs 28:9, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination Whether a man is a saint or a alien sinner that is the case. Proverbs 9:13, “He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper; But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy.” Psalms 66:18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. So the person who wants to hide his wrong doing, whether saint or sinner, the Lord will not hear. Isaiah 66:2, “but to this man will I look, even to him that tremleth at my word.

 

Acts 10:31,  "And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.  Send therefore to Joppa, and call unto thee Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of Simon a tanner by the seaside:  Forthwith, therefore I have sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come."  You have done what we wanted you to do, and we are here, ready to hear what God has commanded.  "Now therefore we are all here present before the sight of God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord.  And Peter opened his mouth and said."  So Peter is ready to preach to them about the facts of the gospel.  And notice the sincerity of the people that are at Cornelius's house.  I believe verse thirty-three, the first part of it, would be the equivalent of saying that we are glad that you have come.  "Forthwith therefore I sent for thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come.  Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all things that have been commanded thee of the Lord."  So Cornelius had told his kinsmen and his near friends the purpose for which they were together.  And they were all present to hear what the Lord had commanded them to do in order to be saved.  "And Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." God is a respecter of the character of men, but as far as the Lord making a distinction because a person is a Jew or a Gentile or an Irishman or a Chinaman, it does not make any difference.  The color does not make any difference.  And so God is no respecter of persons.  "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons."  Frankly, I think that that is one thing that separates God from every man.  I think all of us are to some degree respecters of persons, but God is declared in several references to be no respecter of persons.  Romans chapter two is another reference.  "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him."  So just as long as a person meets God's standards, “every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him.”  How do men work righteousness?  By doing according to the commandments of God as given in the New Testament law for us today.  So every person who hears the words of the New Testament and does according to the instruction, then that person is acceptable to God, and that person will be saved. 

 

Acts 10:36, "The word which he sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ:  He is Lord of all:  That saying, ye yourselves know, which was published throughout all Judaea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power:  Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."  So note how Peter describes Jesus, that went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him.  "And we are witnesses of all of these things which he did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom also they slew hanging him on a tree."  I think we have already discussed why Peter and Paul used the reference hanging him on a tree.  And remember that Galatians chapter three gives us the answer as to why they used that expression hanging him on a tree instead of on the cross.  In Galatians chapter three, Paul says that Christ became a curse for us, as it is written.  That is reading Galatians 3:10, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident:  For, the righteous shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith:  But, he that doeth them shall live in them."  It is 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us:  For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."  And notice your footnote there, the reference quoted is Deuteronomy 21:23.  Jewish people usually carried out the capital offenses by stoning the criminal to death, but it looks like in those worst cases that they would hang a man.  And the Lord decreed that they were not to leave the body hanging, that they were to take the body down and bury it before dark.  And the statement there is cursed is everyone that hangeth on the tree.  I think we need to turn back and read that reference from Deuteronomy.  It is Deuteronomy 21:22.  Well, let me pick up with verse twenty-one, "And all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones, so that thou shalt put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."    "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day:  For he that is hanged is accursed of God:  For thou defile not thy land, which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."    So Jesus became a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. 

 

Acts 10:40, "Him God raised up the third day, and gave him to be made manifest; not to all the people, but unto witnesses that were chosen before of God, even to us, who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead."  That is speaking especially of the apostles that they were the primary witnesses that God chose to be witnesses of his resurrection to go forth to preach as witnesses of what -- that they had witnessed Christ during that forty-day period before his ascension .  "And he charged us (the apostles) to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who is ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead."  In  John 5:22, it is recorded that God has chosen that Christ would be the judge of all men, that God has  given all judgment unto his son!  "To him bear all the prophets witness, that through his name every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins."  There are a number of references in Acts which speak of believers being saved and correctly so (Acts 4:4, 5:14, 9:24, 9:42, 17:12, 17:34) but all of those references are speaking of the kind of faith that causes one to do as he has been instructed to.  Abraham is spoken of as the  father of the faithful, and when God told him to go out, and if he could number the stars, and said to him, so shall thy seed be when he did not have a single child, Genesis 15:6. “And Abraham believed God and it reckoned to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).”  Abraham was always ready to do immediately as God instructed him to.  And remember how James joins Abraham's faith in the offering up of Isaac together.  And you see how that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.”  He is not saying that faith is not necessary, but it takes that active faith to make it saving faith.

 

Acts 10:44, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word."  Now, notice that  the Holy Spirit was not given by the laying on of Peter's hand, but the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word.  That reference has been used to try to teach that baptism is not essential to salvation.  They would reason that God would not have his Spirit to fall on unbelievers, on unsaved men.  Is it not strange that such teachers are ready to make God more ignorant and inferior to man in order to hold on to their false doctrine. Well, now just looking at it from the human standpoint, verse thirty-three, "Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord."  Just looking at it from the standpoint of a human being, using a little common sense, does that statement not tell us that they are all sincere people who have assembled to hear and  do  as God commanded them to do through the preaching of Peter. God had answered Cornelius’ prayer, and sent Peter there for that purpose, and Peter commanded them to be baptized. Remember it is stated of Jesus, “he needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man (John 2:25).”  And several times in the gospel books, we read how that he knew their thoughts.  And so God knew that these people were sincere men.  And while Peter was still speaking to them, the Holy Spirit fell on them that heard the word. But those false teachers want to make God ignorant of what he was doing to try to uphold the false doctrine that they have espoused. Please let it register with you that “Many false prophets are gone out into the world (I John 4:1).” How can men even be honest after they know all those references which show that baptism is essential to salvation and come with a quibble like that?

 

"And they of the circumcision  (the brethren from Joppa) that believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because on the Gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit."  So it was poured out, poured out from heaven.  And remember on Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles as a rushing mighty wind filled all the house where they were sitting.  Let us turn back and read that.  Acts 2:1, "And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they (the apostles) were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of amighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."  And it came from heaven, “suddenly there came from heaven”,  and what happens here to the people in Cornelius's house came from heaven.  "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word."  And notice how that those Jewish brethren were amazed.  They were not expecting such a thing.  It looks like the Jews, as a people, had reasoned that we are God's chosen people and that God has not chosen the Gentile people to be a part of his people, and evidently the Jewish believers did not understand this until the Holy Spirit fell on these people at the household of Cornelius.  "And they of the circumcision that believed were amazed, as many that came with Peter, because on the Gentiles also  Notice now.  was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.  Then answered Peter, can any man forbid the water?"  Who would he be talking to when he asked that question, “can any man forbid the water that these should not be baptized?”  Would he not be talking to those six Jewish brethren that had come with him.  "Then answered Peter, can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?"  The we would refer to the apostles.  They were the ones who were baptized of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ."  And that would be by the authority of Christ John 16:7-14).  Preachers who make quibbles like the one referred to do not want the authority of Christ to prevail. They also try to do away with Mark 16:16. But mark it down that after they make their quibbles, the old country boy, can get up and read Mark 16:16 and sincere people can see the difference. Some preachers need to be reminded of Romans 3:4, “Yea, let God be found true but every man (every man that says to the contrary) a liar  as it is written, That thou mightest be justified by thy words, and mightest prevail when thou comest into judgment. Acts 10:48 says,  "Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."  And again that shows their sincerity.  They were ready to hear and to do as Peter had commanded.  And do you not think they want to know more about how they were to live as New Testament Christians?  And so they wanted him to tarry with them certain days, and he tarried with them certain days.  And it looks like the news got to the Jewish brethren before Peter went to Jerusalem.  You see that there would have been plenty of time for the news to get from Caesarea to Jerusalem before Peter went to Jerusalem.  He tarried certain days with these new converts at Caesarea in Cornelius's house. 

 

Chapter Eleven

"Now the apostles and the brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God."  Now, they had heard.  "And when Peter was come to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncurcumicized, and didst eat with them."  What do they mean by that statement? Peter,  you have done wrong, you went into the house of Gentile people and ate with them.   Do you not know we have counted that as being wrong for these many years.  It is a good thing he had those six brethren with him, or he would have been in big trouble!  But he expounded everything in order, and then, of course, those six brethren could back him up.  "But Peter began and expounded the matter unto them in order, saying, I was in the city of Joppa praying:  And in a trance I saw a vision, a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: upon which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw the four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things and birds of the heavens." 

 

The wild beasts and creeping things were unclean by the law (Leviticus 11:1-8).  Evidently a part of those four-footed beasts were also unclean animals.  Remember the hog was unclean even though it parted the hoof because it did not chew the cud.  "And I heard also a voice saying unto me, rise, Peter; kill and eat, but I said, Not so, Lord:  For nothing common or unclean hath ever entered into my mouth."  Peter affirmed, I have kept the law sincerely, I have lived by the law.  "But a voice answered the second time out of heaven, What God hath cleansed make not thou common.  And this was done thrice:  And all were drawn up again into heaven.  And behold,  forthwith three men stood before the house in which we were, having been sent from Caesarea unto me.  And the Spirit  (the Holy Spirit)  bade me go with them making no distinction."  Now remember that this is during the miraculous days of the church, and so the Spirit is giving Peter instruction to go and teach these people at the household of Cornelius.  "And these six brethren also accompanied me and entered into the man's house."  And so if they are going to contend with Peter, they will have to contend with those six brethren, right?  "And he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, Send to Joppa, and fetch Simon, whose surname is Peter  Now, please highlight verse fourteen.  who shall speak unto the words, whereby thou shall be saved, thou and all thy house."  I had at least one brother try to reason that Cornelius was already a saved man, that he was a Gentile and doing the very best that he knew, and therefore a saved man.  Well, why then this reading?  He is told to send to Joppa and fetch Peter, “who shall speak unto the words whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house.”  Every person today must hear words whereby they may be saved.  They have to know about the facts of the gospel.  And consider how Peter preached to them about the facts of the gospel, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ, and those facts must be obeyed in a form.  Romans 6:3-7 shows that baptism, is a form, of the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ. 

 

Acts 11:15, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on  them, even as on us at the beginning."  The beginning of what?  The beginning, of the fullness of the kingdom of God on that first Pentecost after the ascension of Christ.  And, of course, he is referring to what we read from Acts two.  "Even as on us, (the apostles) at the beginning.  And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit."  Matthew 3:11-12 tells us about John saying that, “I indeed baptize with water, he that cometh after me is mightier than I, and he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”  And remember Acts 1:5, where just before his ascension, Jesus said to his apostles that “John indeed baptized with water,  but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit, not many days hence.”  And they were told to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit.  "But ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit."  So the household of Cornelius was baptized like the apostles were on Pentecost.  "If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; who was I, that I could withstand God?"  And so Peter, in substance, is saying that if I had not commanded them to be baptized in the name of Christ, I would have been going contrary to the will of God.  I saw that God meant for these people to be saved, and so I told them that they needed to be baptized.  "If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; who was I, that I could withstand God?"  Peter surely did not want to withstand God. There are many preachers who try to with stand God on the subject of baptism. They tell people that you are saved when you believe instead of commanding them to be baptized like Peter did in Acts 10:48. "And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also God granted repentance unto life."  It is by the grace, or unmerited favor or kindness that God gives sinful men the opportunity to repent and obey Christ.  And so when they heard the full story, those six brethren were there, and they knew that Peter was telling the truth, and so their attitude changed immediately and rightly so.  When they heard these things, they held their peace and glorified God.  And that means that they were glad that God had given the Gentile people a way of salvation as well as them.  "Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life." 

 

And let me emphasize again that there is special significance that the Lord gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven as recorded in Mathew 16:16-19.  He was the first one to declare God's law of pardon to the Jewish people on that first Pentecost.  In Acts eight, he is one that declared the second law of pardon for Christians when they sin. They are not to be baptized again, but they are to repent and pray for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 8:14-24), and here he is the first one to tell the Gentile people what they needed to do to be saved.  Is there any difference between the baptism of the Holy Spirit for the apostles and the baptism of the Gentiles here?  Well, I think at least there was a big difference in respect to purpose.  A primary purpose of the apostles being baptized in the Holy Spirit was to aid them in the giving and confirming of the New Testament. The matter of being able to speak in tongues that they had not learned to overcome the language barrier was a great advantage in their being able to get the gospel to the world in less than thirty years (Mathew 24:14, Colossians 1:4-6, 1:23).  And, of course, they were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit.  And they had all those wonderful things that they could do as spoken of as signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit to confirm the word (Hebrews 2:3-4). And so it made it possible that within a period of about thirty years the gospel was preached, as Paul put it, it had come to the Colossians as it had come to people in all the world, bearing fruit and increasing, (Colossians 1:5).  And in verse twenty-three,  “It has been preached in all creation unto heaven whereof I Paul am made a minister.”  So in about thirty years' time, those abilities given the apostles made it possible.  And by the laying on of their hands, they could give nine miraculous gifts to others (I Corinthians 12:4-11: II Timothy 1:6), but those on whom they laid their hands on could not transfer those gifts to others as shown by the case of the Samaritans.  Philip could not transfer the gifts that he had by the laying on of his hands, only by the apostles were the miraculous gifts given.  But with them having all that miraculous ability and then by the laying on of their hands giving others miraculous ability, that surely facilitated in the giving and confirming of the word of God very quickly,  and thus the gospel was preached in all the world in about thirty years.  It is reckoned that  there was seven years or more after the gospel was preached to the Jews on Pentecost, before it was carried to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. The Holy Spirit had to be poured out on those in Cornelius’s house to fulfill the prophecy of Joel that it would be poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-21). Another purpose was that it was to show the Jewish Christians that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles.

 

Acts 11:19, "But there were of them men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Greeks, also preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them:  And a great number that believed, and turned unto the Lord."  Believing is one part and turning by obedience is another part. They believed and turned unto the Lord.  "And the report concerning them came to the ears of the church which was at Jerusalem.  And they sent forth Barnabas, as far as Antioch."  Boy, they made a good, wise choice when they sent him to Antioch.  The apostles had changed his name from Joseph to Barnabas because of his ability to exhort and comfort people, so they sent the right man over there.  "They sent forth Barnabas, as far as Antioch."  This is Antioch of Syria. Do not get Antioch of Syria confused with Antioch of Pisidia as given in Acts thirteen.  "Who, when he was come, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and he exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.  For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith:  And much people were added to the Lord."  But Barnabas sees that the work is too much for him, that he needs help, and he goes to Tarsus to seek for Saul.  Remember the apostles had carried him to Caesarea, and sent him to his home at Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:27-30). As Paul tells us when he was making his defense before the Jewish people, that the Lord told him that the people in Jerusalem would not hear him (Acts 22:17-21).  And as we have read, they carried him to Caesarea, and he went from there to his home in Tarsus of Cilicia. 

 

Acts 11:25, "And he went forth  to Tarsus to seek for Saul.  And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch.  And it came to pass, that even for a whole year they were gathered together with the church, and taught much people.  And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."  Now some have tried to reason that the name Christian came from their enemies.  No such thing!  The Holy Spirit through Isaiah had spoken of the time that was coming when God would give his people a new name.  Please turn with me to Isaiah chapter fifty-six, and highlight part of verses five and six.  "For thus saith Jehovah of the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast of my covenant; and even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters:  And I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off."  So notice that a new name was going to be given to those that were faithful as spoken of in this reference as being eunuchs.  And that statement, I think, means that those that are faithful that control themselves and do the will of God and keep the commandments of God, that he is going to give them in my house.  And what is God's house?  I Timothy 3:14-15, Paul said, "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly, but if I tarry long  that men may know how to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of truth."  So Paul wanted Timothy to know what was to be done in the house of God,  and so the church is God's house.  And in his house God would give, “a memorial and a name better than that of sons and daughters.  And I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”  So the name Christian is an everlasting name that will not be cut off.  Turn next to Isaiah 62:2, "And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory.  And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall give."  Do you see why they are called Christians first at Antioch.  Antioch of Syria is the first church made up of Gentile people, and so the fulfillment of Isaiah 62:2.  But our time is up for this second period. A brief recess was taken.  

 

We were reading from Isaiah 62:2, "And the nations shall see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory:  And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name."  So that new name was given by the mouth of Jehovah.  And you need to write down by Isaiah 62:2, Acts 11:26, and by Acts 11:26, you need to write down Isaiah 56:4-5 and Isaiah 62:2 and also Isaiah 65:15.  The old Israel of God would leave her name for a curse, but the new Israel of God would be given a new name.  It reads, "Ye shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse:  And the Lord will slay you, but his servants he will call by a different name."  Many confuse fleshly Israel with spiritual Israel. Fleshly Israel is a goner! She has left her name for a curse (Isaiah 65:15; Matthew 23:26-39). Spiritual Israel today is made up of Jews and Gentiles who obey Christ.  I think we have already turned and read references from Isaiah about the new Israel of God, how that the family would be greatly increased by the bringing in of the Gentile people.  And remember the words of Roman 2:28-29, “He is not a Jew, who is one outward in the flesh, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, whose praise is not of men, but of God.” I do not have it quoted exactly, but anyway that is the meaning of it.  And in Philippians chapter three, Paul is warning against the teachers who were still trying to teach that false doctrine and trying to bind circumcision and the keeping of the law on Gentile converts when he said, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the circumcision (or the mutilators).  For we are the circumcision who glory in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.  So Christian people, whether Jews or Gentiles, constitute God's circumcised people today.  They make up the new Israel of God. 

 

So back now to Acts 11:26.  Paul and Barnabas taught  the church at Antioch for a whole year.  Verse twenty-six, "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.  And in these days there came down prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch."  Young’s Analytical Concordance gives the Greek word for called “To declare by an oracle” meaning an oracle or decree of God. And remember that by the laying on of the apostles' hands, the gift of prophecy was one of the nine miraculous gifts (I Corinthians 12:4-11). .  "And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great famine over all the world:  Which came to pass in the days of Claudius.  And the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren that dwelt in Judaea:  Which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul."  Think what a wonderful spirit -- the Gentile disciples of the Lord at Antioch manifested.  The prophet Agabus signified that a famine was going to come, and I guess he emphasized how that it was especially going to hit the disciples in Judaea, and before the famine came they sent relief!  "And the disciples every man according to his ability determined to send relief unto the brethren that dwelt in Judaea, which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."  Notice they did not send it to the deacons, but they sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.  Remember that elders of the church are overseers of the church, and that includes money matters as well as other matters.  Deacons are assistants to the elders, but the elders have that overall responsibility for the church, and so they sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.  And you remember when the disciples back there were having all things common and some were selling houses and lands, and they brought the money and laid it down at the apostles' feet. So the apostles must have been the first elders, and then here is the first mention that we have of elders is that the brethren at Antioch sent the contributions to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. 

 

Chapter Twelve

Notice also that Barnabas and Saul must have been in Jerusalem at the time that James was beheaded, and surely they were there at the time that Peter was released from prison.  So in chapter twelve, we read about Herod the king killing James the brother of John, and this is reckoned as being about 40 AD.  When James the brother of John was put to death there was already another James that was very prominent in the church, as we will notice from this chapter.  He is considered by many, and I think rightly so, that he is the James mentioned in Acts 12:17 and as James the Lord's brother in Galatians 1:17.  "Now about that time Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church.  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword."  And do you remember the thirteenth chapter of the book of Romans where the writer is talking about the Christians' relationship to civil authority, and how he mentions that he “bears not the sword in vain?”  The Romans for most crimes used the sword for a capital offense.  Romans chapter thirteen, beginning with verse one, "Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God:  The powers that be are ordained of God.  Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God:  And they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment."  So God has ordained civil authority, and as long as that civil authority is in harmony with the will of God, we are to obey all of the civil requirements.  "For rulers are not a terror to good work, but to the evil."  The overriding rule is that they are not a terror to good works but to evil works.  There are some few exceptions from time to time.  "Wouldst thou have no fear of the power to do that which is good.  And thou shalt have praise from the same.  For he is a minister of God to thee for good."  All of the civil officers of the government are to be for our good.  "But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain:  For he is a minister of God; and an avenger of wrath for him that doeth evil."  And God expects the civil government to exercise this penalty for murderers and others.  And here he says that he bears not the sword in vain, for he is a minister of God, an avenger of wrath for him that doeth evil. 

 

So Herod killed James the brother of John, those two sons of Zebedee.  Remember that this James is one of those three inner circle disciples, Peter, James and John, so one of the most important apostles was killed by Herod.  Now, you need to think of that in respect to Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good, to them that love the Lord, to them who are called according to his purpose."  When we think of that reference, we need to include life beyond the grave.  James did not deserve to die, but Herod killed James the brother of John with the sword.  "And when he saw that it pleased Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also."  And these were the days of unleavened bread.  "And when he had taken him, he put him in the prison and delivered him to four quarternions of soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people."  The King James says Easter there. Reading from the King James verse on four, "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternion of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people."  As I understand it there no proper place for the King James Version having Easter there.  I guess that came from Catholic input.  But anyway I think you will find that all of the other versions will read the Passover instead of Easter in Acts 12:4.  "Intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.  Peter therefore was kept in prison."  Notice also that they delivered him to four quaternion of soldiers, so that would make sixteen soldiers to guard Peter.  "Peter therefore was kept in the prison.  But prayer was made earnestly of the church unto God for him."  Were they praying for him that he might be released? The rest of the context shows to the contrary.  They were praying for him, but they may have been praying for him that his faith would remain strong and that he would die in faithfulness.  At least they were surprised when he was released. 

 

Acts 12:5 "Peter therefore was kept in the prison:  But prayer was made earnestly of the church unto God for him.  And when Herod was about to bring him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains:  And guards before the door kept the prison."  Would that not mean that  four guards at that time were guarding Peter? He was chained between two of them, and then two guards at the door.  And evidently they changed  the guards every six hours and that would be sixteen in all who guarded him.  "And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shined in the cell:  And he smote Peter on the side, and woke him, saying, rise up quickly.  And his chains fell off from his hands."  This is another reference that you need to think about where the Bible makes a distinction between men and angels.  I regret that some of our brethren are referring and saying that angels are messengers and that they can just be men carrying the gospel.  That is absolutely wrong!  Do you think a mortal man can do what was done here, go in without the guards that were guarding the door, knowing it, and the chains falling off from Peter, while he was chained  between two, and those guards did not know anything about it?  "And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him.  And a light shined in the prison:  He smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, rise up quickly.  And his chains fell off from his hands.  And the angel said unto him, gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals.  And he did so."  Now, why didn’t those two soldiers stop him?  Evidently they continued to sleep.  They did not know anything about it.  "And he said unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.  And he went out, and followed him; and he knew not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.  And when they were past the first and the second guard, they came unto the iron gate immediately unto the city; which opened to them of its own accord."  Like an automatic door, and do you not know that that door was not supposed to be opened by any ordinary means.  "And they went out, and passed on, one street; and straightway the angel departed from him.  And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a truth, that the Lord hath sent forth his angel, and delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. 

 

Acts 12:12And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying." We have already read that prayer was made of the church to God for Peter.  Verse five, "Peter therefore was kept in the prison, but prayer was made earnestly of the church unto God for him."  That may include more than those that were gathered together at Mary's house.  But at least it looks like there are a number gathered together at her house.  Her house must have been large enough to accommodate quite a few people, for they were at her house, gathering together and praying.  "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together and were praying."  So her house must have been a pretty large house, plus she has at least one maid.  "And when he knocked at the door of the gate, a maid came to answer, named Rhoda.  And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for joy, but ran in, and told how Peter stood there before the gate."  Now, if they were praying for his release, then they did not have much faith that their prayer would be answered.  So I take it that that was not what they were praying for.  "And they said unto her, Thou art mad.  But she confidently affirmed that it was even so and then they said, It is his angel."  "But Peter had continued knocking:  And when they had opened, they saw him and were amazed."  They were not expecting him to be released from prison.  "But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him forth out of the prison.  And he said, Tell these things unto James, and to the brethren."  Now would not verse seventeen, in light of the reference that we read from Galatians 1:17-18 about when Paul three years after his conversion went up to Jerusalem and saw Cephas and said, “of the other apostles, saw I none, save James the Lord's brother,” would this reference here not be referring to James the Lord's brother when he says tell these things unto James and to the brethren?  It looks like to me that he is referring to those other half-brothers of Christ.  I think we turned and read about those brethren in John 7:5.  And another thing that indicates that it is James the Lord's brother is I Corinthians chapter fifteen where Paul makes mention of some of the appearances of Christ after his resurrection from the dead.  Picking up with I Corinthians 15:5, "And he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve:  Then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once."  That must have been that Galilean appearance.  Remember how he told them before his death that he would go before them into Galilee.  Then after he was raised, he told the women to tell the apostles that he was going before them into Galilee.  And so he appeared unto five hundred brethren at once.  And that is one of the references that you need to think of to show people that those who were baptized of John, that they and those who were baptized by Christ and the apostles during that limited commission and kept their faith that they were charter members of the kingdom of God.  "And then he appeared to James."  He is talking about  appearances that Christ made during that forty-day period before his ascension.  "Then he appeared to James; then to all of the apostles.  And last of all he appeared to me as unto achild untimely born, he appeared to he also."  It was several years later before he appeared to Saul of Tarsus and made him an apostle, but see the context.  He appeared to Saul to make him an apostle (Acts 9:15-19, 22:12-15, 26:15-13).  And he appeared to James during that forty-day period then to make him an apostle.  And so Paul then rightly speaks of him as an apostle,  when he says in Galatians 1:17-18, "Other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."  It is thought by many that Peter is telling them to tell this to James the Lord's brother.  "And he departed and went to another place. 

 

Acts 12:18, “As soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers what was become of Peter.  And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death."  Now think about what kind of man king Herod was.  He had killed James the brother of John with the sword.  And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he was ready to kill Peter.  He certainly must have known that these soldiers were not unfaithful men, but that he had been released by an angel of the Lord, but yet he has those sixteen men put to death.  Verse nineteen again, "And when Herod had  sought for him, and found him not, he examined the guards, and commanded that they should be put to death.  And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea and tarried there.  And he was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon:  And they came with one accord to hear him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace; because their country was fed from the king's country.  And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on the throne, and made an oration unto them.  And the people shouted saying, the voice of a God, and not of a man.  And immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory:  And he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost."  Well, verse twenty-three has got to be the truth that the Lord smote him because he did not give God the glory.  He was ready to take the glory to himself when they said the voice of the God and not of a man, but think what else he had done that he had killed James the brother of the Lord and he had those sixteen guards put to death.  And so he received according to his works when the Lord smote him and he was eaten of worms and died.  "But the word of God grew and multiplied.  And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministration, taking with them John whose surname was Mark."  So this is John Mark that Paul and Barnabas carried with them on their first journey, but when they get to Perga of Pamphylia, he goes back to his home at Jerusalem.  When Paul and Barnabas decided to go and revisit those churches that they had established on that first journey, they separated because Barnabas wanted to carry John Mark with them again, and Paul did not have enough confidence in him to carry him. Which one did wrong, Barnabas or Paul? The answer is neither. They just  differed on a matter of human judgment, and they separated.  Barnabas  chose John Mark, and they sailed to the Isle of Cyprus like they did on that first journey.  And Paul chose Silas, one of those two that the church at Jerusalem had sent to the church at Antioch to tell them in person that circumcision  and  the keeping of  the law   was not binding on the Gentiles.  Paul and Silas went by land back to those churches that they had established on that first journey.  I do not have any maps in here tonight, and we will go ahead and read awhile.  If you do not understand the importance of these missionary journeys, let me try to impress on your mind that you will do well to get in mind these missionary journeys as to what Paul and his company did on each of these journeys.  And here in chapters thirteen and fourteen, we will be reading about the first missionary journey of Barnabas, and Saul, as mentioned here in the beginning, and Saul and later Paul and Barnabas, and of their success on this first missionary journey.  In these two chapters, we will be reading about the establishment of the churches of Galatia.  If these churches were not the churches of Galatia, then Luke does not give us an account about the establishment of the churches of Galatia. It has been well-established that these churches were in the Roman province of Galatia which is Asia Minor.  There is not much room for doubt that these churches  that we will be reading about here in chapters thirteen and fourteen constitute the churches of Galatia that the letter to the churches of Galatia is written to.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 "Now there were in Antioch in the church that was there prophets and teachers."  They would be, of course, inspired prophets and teachers.  "Barnabas and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."  So they were ministering to the Lord and fasting when the Lord said, separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.  And remember that Paul had been called primarily as an apostle to the Gentiles.  "Then when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."  Now the laying on of hands here would just be showing their approval, and that they wanted God's blessing to be upon them.  These prophets would not have had the power to lay their hands on other disciples  and give them any miraculous gifts.  But they showed their approval, and notice that they fasted and prayed.  And we will read about when Paul and Barnabas revisited these churches that the brethren fasted and prayed when they appointed elders in the churches.  "And then when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.  So being sent forth by the Holy Spirit." 

 

In other words, the Holy Spirit was commanding them to go.  And part of the time, we will notice that chapter sixteen especially, that the Holy Spirit forbid Paul to go into Asia and forbid him to go into Bithynia.  And so they are being directed by the Holy Spirit to go on this journey.  "And so they being sent forth by the Holy Spirit went forth to Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus."  Look on your map and see Seleucia and then the Isle of Cyprus.  They go through the island of Cyprus.  "And when they were at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogue of the Jews:  And they had also John as their attendant."  Salamis is near on the east side of the  island.  They preached the word in the synagogue of the Jews at Salamis, but evidently without any real success.  Don’t you think that Luke would have given us an account if they had met with any success, that he would have recorded it?  But they did speak the word of God in the synagogue of the Jews.  And they had also John as their attendant.  "And when they had gone through the whole island unto Paphos."  So they go from Salamis, which is on the east side of the island to the west side of the island unto Paphos.  "They found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet a Jew, whose surname was Barjesus who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of understanding."  So this Jew, a false prophet, is with a prudent man who is an officer of the government, a proconsul.  Sergius Paulus is a man of understanding, and this false prophet tries to prevent him from hearing Barnabas and Saul.  "The same (Sergius Paulus) called unto him Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God.  But Elimas the sorcerer, for so is his name by interpretation, withstood them, seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the faith."  So this false prophet, the devil worshiper,  tries to prevent this wise man, Sergius Paulus, from hearing the word of God. 

 

Acts13:9, "But Saul who is also called Paul."  And I believe I am right that from here on he is called Paul.  "Filled with the Holy Spirit fastened his eyes on him, and said, O full of all guile,and all villainy thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season."  So remember that we saw where Paul is an apostle, that the Lord appeared to him to make him an eyewitness and chose him to be an apostle to carry the gospel, especially to the Gentiles, but not limited to the Gentiles.  And so here he uses that miraculous power given by the Holy Spirit and strikes this old prophet Bar Jesus blind.  "And immediately there came on him a midst and a darkness:  And he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.  Then the proconsul."  Now notice that these miracles had an influence on others.  "Then the proconsul when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord."  That miracle verifies that they were from God, speaking to him the way of salvation, and so when he saw what was done, he believed.  He was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.  "Now Paul and his company."  So Paul is in the leadership now.  He started out, “separate me Barnabas and Saul.”  And as Barnabas and Saul, verse seven, “the same called unto him Barnabas and Saul.”  And after this miracle of the Holy Spirit through Paul striking this false prophet blind, it is pretty well Paul from here on that Paul is in the leadership. 

 

Acts 13:13, "And Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga of Pamphylia:  And John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem."  Do you see how that ties back to chapter twelve?  Mary is the mother of John Mark, and they were gathered together at her house in Jerusalem, praying.  John Mark must have decided that things were too difficult for him.  When they go up to Perga of Pamphylia, he decided he would go back home.  But they passing through from Perga came from Antioch in Pisidia, and they went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down."  Now anytime Paul and those that in company with him went to a city, and there was a synagogue there, they went to the synagogue first.  It is generally thought that if there were as many as ten Jewish families in the city, they would have a synagogue.  So there was a Jewish synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia.  Now remember these journeys all go from Antioch of Syria, but remember that this is Antioch of Pisidia.  And they went into the synagogue on the sabbath day and sat down.  "And after the reading of the law and the prophets."  And this was a pattern in the synagogue that they would be reading from the law and the prophets.  Do you remember from Luke chapter four when Jesus went to Nazareth where he was brought up?  He went in the synagogue at Nazareth and stood up to read.  And there was delivered to him the book of Isaiah.  He read from it and told them, “today is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” 

 

Acts 13”15, "And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them saying, Brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."  Now whether they had requested to be able speak to the people in the synagogue or whether the rulers of the synagogue just reasoned on their own that they might have a message for the people, Luke does not tell us.  Verse sixteen, "And Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said."  I get the idea that Paul was a master of assemblies, that he could just beckon with his hand and get the attention of the people. He could beckon with his hand in such a way as to come across to the people that I have something important to say to you.  And remember as recorded in Acts twenty-one, as Paul was going up the castle steps, he asked the chief captain if he could speak to the people.  And the chief captain gave him permission to speak to those who had been trying to kill him.  And notice 21:40 reads, "And when he had given him leave, Paul standing on the stairs, beckoned with the hand unto the people.  And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew language, saying."  And so you see there that he beckoned with his hand and got the attention of those who had been trying to kill him.  "So Paul stood up and beckoning with the hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, hearken."  The men of Israel would be the Jewish people, and ye that fear God hearken evidently would be referring to the Gentile people that were worshiping with the Jews in that synagogue.  "The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm led he them forth out of it."  God had promised Abraham how that they would enslave his descendants, that he would judge them and bring them out with  a high arm (Genesis 15:12-16).  And they came out, with a lot of the wealth of Egypt when they came out.  "And for about the time of forty years as a nursing father, he beared them in the wilderness."  So I know that our time is near up, so we will count chapter thirteen and verse nineteen as the beginning place for our next Class Session.  Thank you.