Southern Christian University

Acts Class Session 07

James A. Turner


Please turn to Acts thirteen and let us begin reading with verse sixteen.  Here in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Acts, we are reading about Paul and Barnabas going on the first missionary journey as recorded in the book of Acts.  Now, this does not mean that this was the first missionary journey that Paul had been on because II Corinthians chapter eleven, the latter part, shows that he had already been on several journeys before he and Barnabas go on this first journey as recorded here in the thirteenth and fourteen chapters of Acts.  And the churches that they established on this journey, I think very definitely are the churches of Galatia that the epistle to the Galatians is addressed to.  This has been well-established by historical research on the part, I believe the man's name was Sir Walter.  I do not remember his last name right now.  But, anyway, it has been well-established from the point of historical research and surely from the standpoint of Bible history here.  If these are not the churches that made up the churches of Galatia, then we do not have a record of the establishment of those churches.  Paul and Barnabas established the churches of Galatia on this first journey.  They consisted of the church at Antioch of Pisidia, the church at Iconium, the church at Lystra and the church at Derbe.  In Acts sixteen, we read that Paul revisited these churches on his second journey in company with Silas and then added Timothy on the way.  He revisited them again on his third journey as shown by Acts eighteen verses twenty-two and twenty-three and then Acts nineteen beginning.  So these are the churches of Galatia. 


Let us pick up -- We read a few verses past verse sixteen, but let us pick up with Acts thirteen and verse sixteen.  Paul is in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia, and this is the first church that they establish on this journey.  "Paul stood up and beckoning with the hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, hearken.  The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people, when they sojourned in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm led he them out of it."  And that means that God brought them out with great substance as he had promised that he would.  After all, they had been in bondage a long time and they had a right to some reward of their being in bondage, and God saw to it that they went out with great resources.  He had them to ask the Egyptians for whatever they wanted, and the Egyptians pretty well gave them everything they wanted, and they went out with a lot of silver and gold, plus their flocks and their herds.  Verse eighteen, "For about the time of forty years as a nursing father bare he them in the wilderness."  If you remember the Old Testament account, you know that they could have gone into the land of Canaan in about two years.  But when God was ready for them to go in after the twelve men had been sent to spy out the land, the people rebelled, and God caused them to wander for thirty-eight more years to make forty years, a year for every day that those men spied out the land of Canaan.  But God took care of them.  He brought forth water from a rock on two different occasions to plenty of water to that multitude of people, a small nation of people, plus their flocks and their herds.  And he gave them manna from heaven to eat, and they would go out early in the morning and gather the manna.  And that is what it means, of course, speaking of God taking care of them like a nursing father, for forty years in the wilderness. 


Acts 13:19, "And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance for about four hundred and fifty years.  And after these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet."  Most of the judges were a little more than military leaders whom God raised up to deliver them from their enemies.  The period of the judges was a period that is described twice in the book of Judges as being a time when, “there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  Some think that the fault was that they did not have a king, but that was not the case.  God was supposed to have been their king, but they turned away from God during this period of time, and God would let their enemies afflict them sorely. When they would finally repent, God would raise up a judge, a military leader to deliver them from their enemies.  Usually they were somewhat about faithful until the death of the judge, and then they went back in great sin again, and when they would cry to God for deliverance, he would raise up another judge.  The last judge, Samuel, was very different from the other judges.  Samuel was a good judge and he also served as a priest for them.  God cut off the house of Eli because of those very sinful sons that despised the word of the Lord. They took portions of the sacrifices contrary to the law, and they also lay with the women that served at the tent of meeting.  They were vile men, and God cut off the house of Eli because of it (II Samuel 2:12-4:22. 


Acts 13:22, "And after they asked for a king:  And God gave them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for the space of forty years."  When the people went to Samuel and wanted a king, Samuel thought that they were rejecting him, but God told him that they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting me. God told Samuel to tell them the requirements of the king, and if they still insisted on a king, then let them have a king, and they still wanted a king.  They wanted to be like the nations round about them.  And the first king was Saul the son of Kis,  a man of the tribe of Benjamin for the space of forty years.  King Saul was a very humble person when he was first anointed as king, but the matter of being king went to his head in a big way, and it was not long until he had turned away from God.  God gave him a second chance by giving him instruction to go down and destroy all of the Amalekites, all the people and all their animals, but he failed that test (I Samuel 15:1-28).  The people wanted to carry back some of the fatted oxen to have a big sacrifice unto the Lord, and God had Samuel to reprove him because he had disobeyed God. 


Acts 13:22, "And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king:  To whom also he bear witness, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall do all of my will.  Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise brought unto Israel a savior, Jesus:  And when John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel."  You remember that God sent to John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord as set forth in Isaiah  40:3-5 and as given in Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6.  John made very good preparations for the ministry of Christ.  And as stated here, when John had first preached before his coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. I can remember when some of our brethren would say that John's baptism was just a baptism of repentance, that it was not for remission of sins, but that is not what the Bible teaches.  Remember the question that Jesus asked the chief priests and Pharisees when they came to him, when he cleansed the temple the second time, as given in Matthew 21:23-32. They wanted to know by what authority he was doing the things that he was doing and who gave thee this authority?  And Jesus said, I will ask you a question, and if you will answer it, I will tell you by what authority I do these things.  He said,   “the baptism of John, whence was it from heaven or from men?” That is a very good question that needs to be asked by religious people today.  Is this the way that the Lord has instructed us to worship, is it from heaven or is it from men?  That makes all the difference.  John's baptism was from heaven, and those who received it received remission of sins.  Mark 1:4 plainly states that John's baptism was for King James Version or -- unto in the American Standard Version -- remission of sins, so does Luke 3:3.  And those who rejected John’s baptism remained in a lost condition.  Luke 7:30 reads that,  “the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized of John  So John's baptism was preparing a good highway for the Lord or a good way for Christ to follow.  His baptism was for remission of sins. 


Acts 13:25, "And as John was fulfilling his course, he said, Who suppose ye that I am?  I am not he.  But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of whose feet I am not worthy to unloose."  Of course, John was speaking of Christ that was to follow him.  "Brethren, and children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us is the word of this salvation sent forth."  Acts 13:26 shows that there were Gentiles that were worshiping with the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia. He must be referring to the Gentiles when he says “and those among you that fear God.”  I wonder if the Gentiles did not sit somewhere separate from the Jews in the synagogues, and if so, you see how Paul could have looked over to the Gentile people and said that those among you that fear God.  "Brethren, children of the stock of Abraham."  Of course, that would refer to the Jewish people in the synagogue.  "And those among you that fear God."  See, that would not be a very good statement, if it was not referring to the Gentile people.  It would seem to say that there are not many in this synagogue who fear God, but think of it as the Gentile people that were worshiping with the Jews and it makes good sense.  "And those among you that fear God, to us is the word, and this salvation set forth.  For they dwelt in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him."  Of course, the Old Testament prophets taught how that Jesus would be condemned.  Think of Isaiah chapter fifty-three, plus several of the Psalms, where the writers through the Holy Spirit spake of the sufferings of Christ.  Isaiah fifty-three details a number of things about the death of Christ more than seven hundred years before Christ was born of the virgin Mary.  Even though they read portions of the law and the prophets in the synagogue worship, they did not come to proper conclusion in regard to many of those Old Testament prophecies, and they fulfilled them by condemning Jesus as given here in verse twenty-seven.  "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.  And though they found no cause of death in him, they yet asked they of Pilate that he should be slain."  Remember that they even got false witnesses to testify against Jesus, but even those false witnesses did not agree, and they violated many of the rules of the Sanhedrin Court when that Court condemned Jesus to death.  They did not have the authority to exercise the death penalty, so they went to Pilate and called upon him to give Jesus the death penalty.  Verse twenty-nine, "When they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb."  And I believe we discussed the meaning as to why Paul and Peter referred to Christ as being hanged on a tree.  And remember from Galatians chapter three where Paul says, "That 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 he was quoting from Deuteronomy twenty-one, I believe.  The Jewish people usually put people to death by stoning them to death.  But it must have been when they had what they thought of as a person committing a real bad crime, beyond just ordinary death penalty cases, that they hanged them on a tree.  Reading from Galatians 3:13 again, "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 the passage quoted is Deuteronomy 21:23.  And if you turn back and read that Old Testament reference, a man that they hanged was to be taken down before dark, and then the statement, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree 


Acts 13:30, "But God raised him from the dead."  Notice that Paul in his sermon to these people in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia is presenting the facts of the gospel, just like Peter did in that first sermon on Pentecost after the ascension of Christ.  And so about the death of Christ, they fulfilled the scriptures by putting him to death.  But verse thirty, "God raised him from the dead.  And he was seen for many days of them that came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses unto the people."  And that would be referring especially to the apostles.  And they were the ones that Christ had chosen.  They were eyewitnesses, having been eyewitnesses of Christ during that long ministry of about three-and-a-half years.  And they were eyewitnesses of him after he was raised from the dead.  Jesus met with them on at least two occasions during that forty-day period.  And so they were the primary ones that were eyewitnesses of the Lord's resurrection from the dead so far as the preaching and teaching of the gospel.  Now we read in I Corinthians 15:5-7 where Jesus appeared to above five hundred brethren at once during that forty-day period, but I think this is talking about especially the apostles.  "And he was seen for many days of them that came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses unto the people."  And remember when the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus, he appeared to him to make him an eyewitness of his resurrection so that he could be an apostle, especially to the Gentile people. 


Acts 13:32, "And we bring you good tidings, of the promise made unto the fathers, that God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that he raised up Jesus; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."  I would like for you to underscore the latter part of verse thirty-three.  I can remember the day when I thought that that reference referred to the virgin birth of Christ, and that reference is quoted three times in the New Testament.  It is quoted here in Acts 13:33 and in Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5.  But notice that Paul applies this verse from the second chapter of the book of Psalms to the resurrection of Christ.  Note the reading again of verse thirty-three, "God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that he hath raised up Jesus."  So the inspired apostle says that Psalm 2:7 was a prophecy of the resurrection of Christ. As was also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."  


Let us turn back to the second Psalms, and notice that this is one of several Psalms about Christ.  Reading beginning with verse one, "Why do the nations rage, and the people meditate a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against his anointed, saying.  Is this not the reference that when Peter and John went back to their company, that they quoted in their prayer to God.  Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.  He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh:  But the Lord will have them in derision.  Then will he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.  Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.  I will tell thee of the decree:  Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.  Ask of me and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance."  In the book of Isaiah, that is really emphasized that God would give Christ to be a light and a covenant to the Gentiles.  "Ask of thee and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.  Now therefore be wise, O ye kings:  Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, for his wrath will soon be kindled.  Blessed are they that take refuge in him."  And so that surely holds, blessed are the people that take refuge in Christ (Hebrews 6:18-20). 


Back to 13:34, "And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said spoken on this wise, I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David."  And that has reference to Christ being raised up to rule on the throne of David, which was God's throne, I Chronicles 29:23.  "I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David, because he saith also in another psalm, Thou wilt not give thine Holy One to see corruption."  I hope you remember in Acts two that the apostle Peter quoted from the same Psalm, Psalm sixteen in his sermon on Pentecost, but Paul here just refers to verse ten, which is very definitely about Christ, that his body would not see corruption.  "Thou wilt not give thy Holy One to see corruption.  For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:  But he who God raised up, saw no corruption.  Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins:  And by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."  Actually the Old Testament law by itself did not completely save anyone.  We learn from the first five chapters of the book of Leviticus that when a person under the law learned that he had sinned, he was to take an animal that the law specified for his sin to the place where the tabernacle was, and that place was Shiloh for more than three hundred years.  And there at the altar of burnt offerings, he was to lay his hand upon the animal, signifying surely to him that I am the one that deserves to die, but this animal is being offered in his stead.  The law required the sinner to lay hands upon the head of the animal, and then kill the animal, and then the priest took over and sprinkled the blood, and did the other things, that according to the instruction, that God gave the priests, and that gave them temporary atonement.  And then in the seventh month, I believe it was on the tenth day of the month, that they had that day of annual atonement when the high priest went into the most holy place of the tabernacle not without blood, which he offered for his sins and the sins of his family and then later for the people.  The sixteenth chapter of Leviticus gives the details of the priests in the process of making atonement.  So they had a system of making annual atonement.  They were to afflict themselves on that day, usually considered  that they were to fast on that day.  But there was no complete forgiveness of sin under the law. 


Now, those who died in covenant relationship with God through the offering up of animal sacrifices, when Christ died on the cross, his blood reached back and completely cleansed them.  Hebrews 9:15, the writer says, "For a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions of those that were under the first."  So they were not justified by the law.  But everyone who believes and, of course, belief  there is spoken of in that sense of obeying and doing as the Lord commands. We have already noticed several passages from this book which teach very plainly that there are several things that a sinner must do in order to be saved. Those chapters from Leviticus show that there were things that they had to do in order to receive a temporary atonement. But under the New Testament law, when sins are forgiven, they are forgiven completely and forever.  Those sins are never brought against a person again.  And that is in Hebrews 8:12,  “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”  Under the Old Testament law, there was remembrance made of their sins year by year. 


Acts 13:40, "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken in the prophets."  I wonder if Paul was not able to see that there were those that were  turning a deaf ear to his teaching about there being a way of complete forgiveness in Christ.  It is very different from the Old Testament system.  And, he says, "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken in the prophets; behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish:  For I work a work in your days, A work which ye shall in no wise believe, if one declare it unto you.  And as they went out they besought that these words might be spoken to them the next Sabbath."  It looks like there must have been Jews and Gentiles that wanted him to speak to them the next Sabbath.  But Paul and Barnabas must have really done a lot of teaching among the Gentiles before that next Sabbath, and the next Sabbath day, the whole city came out to hear them, and that stirred many of the Jews to jealousy.  Verse forty-three, "Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes."  Devout proselytes were those Gentiles worshiping with the Jews.  And for a person to be counted as a complete proselyte, the men were to be circumcised like the Jews.  So Jews and devout proselytes “followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.”  The grace of God is that unmerited favor that comes to us because of God's kindness, love, and mercy toward us. 


Acts 13:44, "And the next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God.  But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy."  I guess they had attracted the attention of the Gentiles more in one week than they had been able to attract the attention of the Gentiles to worship with them in many years, and they were filled with jealousy.  "And contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul and blaspheming."  They rejected and spoke against and railed against the teaching of Paul and Barnabas.  What did Paul and Barnabas do?  "And Paul and Barnabas spake out boldly, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you:  Seeing ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.  For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for their salvation unto the uttermost part of the earth."  And that quotation there in verse thirty-seven is from the forty-ninth chapter of Isaiah and verse six. It is one of many passages in the book of Isaiah which emphasizes that the family of the new Israel of God would be greatly increased by the bringing in of the Gentile people. 


And today the Israel of God is made up of Jews and Gentiles who obey the gospel of Christ.  Romans 2:28-29 reads, "For he is not a Jew, which is one outward in the flesh; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:  But he is a Jew, who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, and not of the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."  And in Philippians chapter three, Paul said to the Philippians, “we are the circumcision which worship God and glory in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh,” Meaning that though he was a Jew, he did not expect to be saved on the basis of being a descendant of Abraham, but by faith in Christ.  Verse forty-eight is a very important verse that you need to give proper thought to.  "And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God:  And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."  Now, note the latter part of verse forty-eight, as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.  Just as many, not one more, and not one less than those who were ordained to eternal life believed in that company of Gentiles that were present on this occasion.  I guess all of you know that in respect to the strictest form of the Old Calvinist doctrine, the way that they would use a reference like this was that God, before the foundation of the world, chose those who would be saved.  And those that God elected to be saved would be saved, and those that God did not elect, he just did not elect them, and there was nothing they could do about it.  Well, that would surely make God a respecter of persons.  In fact, it would make him an unjust and unrighteous God to create people and condemn them to a devil's hell.  And that is about what it would amount to, would it not?  Our brethren knew that that was false a doctrine, and some of them turned to the other extreme as though God really has not ordained and predestined anything.  But the Bible teaches very plainly that God has foreordained and predestined some things, and that was even before he made man. 


Please write down in an appropriate place in your Bible, Ephesians 1:3-5, Romans 8:29-30, I Peter 1:20, and II Timothy 1:9.  And those are not all of the references, but those ought to be sufficient to tell us very plainly that God foreordained and predestined some things.  Let me see if I can quote from Ephesians chapter one, beginning with verse three, where the writer said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ:  Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having -- Does it say predestined?  I guess I need to turn and read it.  Ephesians chapter one, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ:  Even as he hath chose us in him."  Please underscore before the foundations of the world.  "That we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:  Having foreordained.  And underscore foreordained.  us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."  So this passage says that those Ephesian Christians had been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they would be God's holy people, without blemish before him in love.  "Having foreordained us, to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ unto himself."  And then in the reference in the eighth chapter of Romans, we read that God foreordained people.  Romans 8:29-30, "For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."  Christ is the firstborn of them that sleep, of the firstborn that are raised from the dead to die no more.  And when Christ comes in the second advent, all will be raised (Acts 17:31; John 5:28-29) and all the faithful will be raised and be given glorious immortal bodies likened to the body of our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20-21; I John 3:1-2).  And so God foreordained.  "For whom he foreknew, he always foreordained or predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  And whom he foreordained, them he also called.  And whom he called, them he also justified:  And whom he justified, them he also glorified."  And so God has foreordained and predestined some things.  And in I Timothy, Paul says that he did this, I believe he stated before times eternal.  And I guess I better turn and read that reference.  II Timothy 1:9, "Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal."  So note that this verse says that God saved us and called us with a holy calling in Christ before times eternal.  Now, would not that be the same as before the foundation of the world as given in Ephesians 1:3-5?  And in I Peter 1:19-20, Peter talks about how that we are redeemed by the precious blood of the lamb without spot, without blemish, even the blood of Christ, who was foreknown before times eternal.  In other words, manifest at the end of these times, I believe it says, for your sake.  I guess we better turn, and read that reference, and make sure we have it right.  Let us pick up with I Peter 1:18, "Knowing that we were redeemed not with corruptible things, with silver and gold, from your vain manner of life, handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood as of the lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.  Who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world."  And so before the foundation of the world and before times eternal II Timothy 1:9 would   mean the same thing.  "Before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of the times for you." 


So with these references, can there be any doubt in your mind that God foreordained and predestined some things?  What then did God foreordain and predestinate?  I believe we can sum it up pretty well this way:  That God knew before he made man, knew that if he made man a free moral agent, that somewhere along the way that man would sin, and   God planned for man's redemption before he made man, and that plan included that Christ would be sent as an offering for sin.  And that all who would receive Christ by believing and repenting of their sins and being baptized for the remission of their sins, that they would be saved.  The Ephesian brethren, Paul had preached the gospel to them.  Ephesians 2:1, "And you did he make alive when you were dead in your trespasses and sins."  Their sins had separated them from God (Isaiah 59:1-2, Romans 3:23, 8:6-9).  But when Paul preached the gospel to them, they believed and obeyed the gospel.  And yet in a sense, they were saved from the foundation of the world.  Have you read the outline, Things By Which We Are Saved? The outline shows that there is a sense in which every person who is saved is saved by the foreordination and predestination of God, for God foreordained and predestined to send Christ, and that through Christ and his church, men would be saved.  And our time is up for this period. A brief recess was taken.


Okay.  We were still on Acts 13:48, "And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."  So God, before the foundation of the world, planned for man's salvation.  That plan included Christ and his church that Christ would come and die as a sin offering upon the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world.  As stated in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned.  He that believeth not on him is condemned already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God."  As we stated in closing, Paul had preached the gospel to those brethren at Ephesus.  They believed on Christ, and obeyed him, and thus they had been made alive in Christ.  Do you remember that in the fifth chapter of the book of John, that Jesus talked about two great resurrections, one, a resurrection in Christ, and the other one, the resurrection from the dead when Christ comes in his second advent?  I may have emphasized this already, but if I have not, please get very familiar with John 5:24-25.  Jesus is talking about a conditional resurrection.  And it is that resurrection in Christ that takes place when one is baptized into Christ, according to Romans 6:3-7. 


I am reading from John 5:24-25, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth in him that sent me."  Now, notice the conditions, “heareth  my word, and believeth in him that sent me hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed out of death into life."  Out of spiritual death, sin separates one from God, Isaiah 59:1-2.  And so those who obey Christ pass out of spiritual death into life in Christ.  "Verily, verily, I say unto you "The hour cometh, and now is when the dead  (the spiritually dead)  shall hear the voice of the Son of God:  And they that hear shall live."  Notice that this is a conditional resurrection, turning on the free moral agency of man, “and they that hear shall live  When it comes time for that general resurrection, all will come forth whether they want to come forth or not.  And that is spoken of then in verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine, where he says, "Marvel not at this:  For the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tomb shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment."  So the saints at Ephesus had in a sense been saved in Christ before the foundation of the world because God had that planned that all who would obey Christ would be saved. In Ephesians 3:11, the writer says that the church was in the eternal purpose of God.  So Christ and the church were in the eternal purpose of God.  Hebrews 2:9 says that, “By the grace of God, he tasted of death for every man  So God made a way of salvation possible for all who receive Christ and are ready to apply his blood as that atoning power to give them remission of sins.  The Gentile people of Acts 13:48 were true believers in Christ, and “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed  Verse forty-nine, "And the word of the Lord was spread abroad throughout the whole region."  It looks like there was a lot of teaching that took place from verse forty-nine, and we conclude especially from among the Gentile people.  So a great church was established at Antioch of Pisidia, made up of some Jews, but predominantly made up of Gentile Christians.  But notice that those unbelieving Jews stir up trouble against Paul and Barnabas and cast them out of their borders.  "But the Jews urged on the devout women of honorable estate, and of the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and cast them out of their borders."  The devout women would evidently be Gentile women.  It says devout women of honorable estate, probably some of them wives of government leaders.  And the chief men of the cities, those would be leaders in  this Gentile society at Antioch of Pisidia..  So the unbelieving Jews would be stirring up the Gentiles against them, stirred up the persecution against Paul and Barnabas and cast them out of their borders.  "And they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium.  And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit."  They were filled with joy.  They knew that they had obeyed the Lord and that they had salvation, so they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. 


Chapter Fourteen

"And it came to pass in Iconium, that they entered together in the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake that a great multitude both of the Jews and of Greeks believed."  So the synagogue at Iconium was a better synagogue than the one at Antioch of Pisidia.  The  synagogue at Iconium compares favorably with the synagogue in Berea when Paul and his company went there on that second journey and established the church there.  Remember Luke said of them that “these were more noble than they in Thessalonica, in that they received the word of God with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether or not those things were so, therefore many of them believed.”  And so there are a lot of sincere people in the synagogue here at Iconium and then later in that synagogue at Berea that was established on the second journey.  And so they entered into the synagogue “and so spake that a  great multitude, both Jews and Greeks believed.  But the Jews that were disobedient stirred up the souls of the Gentiles, and made them evil affected against the brethren.”  You see that they would have to stir up the Gentile people to have any real power behind them because, this is  Gentile territory.  "Long time therefore they tarried there speaking boldly in the Lord, who bear witness unto the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands."  The signs and wonders would be to verify that they were from God, and confirming what they were teaching was from God teaching them the way of salvation in Christ.  "But the multitude of the city was divided:  And part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.  And then there was made an onset both of the Gentiles, and of the Jews with their rulers, to treat them shamefully, and to stone them."  That shows that the Jews are the leaders in that, because the Jews usually stoned people to death for the crimes that the law specified, that they were to put people to death for.  "And they became aware of it and fled into the cities of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe."  So the second church established is the church in Iconium. 


Acts 14:8, "And at Lystra there sat a certain man, impotent in his feet, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never had walked."  Again so-called faith healers and miraculous healers today do not want to demonstrate on people like that, a man impotent in his feet from his mother's womb who never walked? Have you heard of any like that being healed by the Jannes and Jambres of today (I Timothy 3:6-9; Exodus 7:11-12, 8:16-19, 9:8-11)? "The same heard Paul speaking who fastenings his eyes upon him and seeing that he had faith to be made whole."  I think that means that Paul saw that he would try to stand up when he told him to stand up.  "And said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet.  And he leaped up and walked."  You know that when the people saw that, that they had great appreciation for what had been done, and they were ready to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods.  Of course, this is Gentile territory, and they did not worship the true God, they worshipped idol gods.  Verse eleven, "And when the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Iconium the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.  And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.  And the priest of Jupiter, whose temple was before the city, brought oxen and garlands into the gates and would have done sacrifice with the multitudes."  It looks like the priest of Jupiter thought that this would be a fine way to further encourage the worship of our god Jupiter.  He is going to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. He brought oxen and garlands into the gate of the city, and was ready to worship them with the multitudes that had witnessed the healing.  I think that the garlands would be that the oxen were decked out with flowers and whatever is referred to as garlands, indicating that they were going to sacrifice them.  And they were ready to sacrifice to them as gods, and would have done so had Paul and Barnabas not acted in a hurry.  "But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul heard it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things?  We are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings that ye should turn from these vain things unto the living God, who made the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.  Who in generations gone by suffered all the nations who walked in their own ways."  And so if Paul and Barnabas had not immediately done what they did, they would have been slaying those oxen and sacrificing to them as a god, but they rent their garments.  That was something that showed the people that they were extremely excited about what they were about to do. They rent their garments and sprang forth among them, saying, Sirs, why do ye do these things?  We are men of like passions, we are not gods!  We just bring you good tidings or good news that “you should turn from these vain things” the worship of idols and worship the living God.  The living God made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that in them is. 


Acts 14:16, "Who in generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways."  Nations, of course, refers to Gentiles, and afoot note in my Bible says, or Gentiles. Do you remember the latter part of the first chapter of Romans, beginning with verse eighteen through the rest of the chapter, where it is stated three times that God gave them up, the Gentiles?  They were ready to put God out of their knowledge and worship  certain creatures rather than the creator, and they were ready to exchange the truth of God for a lie.  Because of those things God gave them up to their vile passions.  And then in their vile passions, the women turned in their lust toward women and men in their lust toward men.  They changed the pattern of sex from that which is natural and God-given (Genesis 2:18-25) to that which is contrary to nature.  It is stated three times that God gave them up, which means that God did not discipline them as much as he had done in days past.  In other words, they had gone so far into sin that God, you might say, turned them loose as a people, and then they became a depraved people.  And this is what he is talking about in verse sixteen, "Who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways.  And yet he left not himself without witness, in that he had done good, and gave from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness." 


So God has always brought gladness upon the just and the unjust.  “He maketh the sun to riseth on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).”  And here Paul says he did not leave himself without witness in that time when he let the Gentiles go and they walked in their own ways.  You remember that that was what was wrong with the people during the days of the judges; each man did that which is right in his own eyes.  When the people did what was right in their own eyes, they surely did contrary to the way of the Lord.  And the Gentiles were going contrary to the way of the Lord when they walked in their own ways.  But God still gave them good blessings from heaven, rains “and in fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.”  "And with these sayings scarce restrained they the multitudes, from doing sacrifice unto them."  So very definitely they would have worshipped them had they not done what they did to prevent it.  Now, consider that they were ready to worship them as a god, and then the Jews came over from Antioch and Iconium, unbelieving Jews, and stirred up the people, and it looks like that those Gentile people at Lystra participated in that matter of stoning Paul and dragging him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  "But there came Jews from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead." I cannot help but wonder that if this was the time when Paul was caught up into paradise, into the third heaven, the place where God is, and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter as set forth in II Corinthians 12:1-10. 


Please turn to II Corinthians chapter twelve, and let us read a portion of that chapter.  Paul is having to defend his apostleship.  Even the better element of the church of God at Corinth had not come to his defense.  And the false apostles, deceitful workers at Corinth were troubling the church.  And Paul defended himself, that he speaks of as the foolishness.  Under ordinary circumstances, he would not have done such a thing, but the gospel of Christ would have suffered had he not defended himself.  II Corinthians chapter twelve, beginning with verse one, "I must need glory though it is not expedient.  But I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago."  Now, he is talking about himself.  You notice now it shows plainly that he is talking about himself.  "I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago."  II Corinthians was written in about A.D. 56 or 57.  Fourteen from fifty-six would be 43 AD.  "I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not:  God knoweth; such a one caught up even to the third heaven."  So Paul is saying when he was caught up into the third heaven, where God is, that he did not know whether he was in a body or out of a body.  He did not know whether he was called up in a body or just his spirit was called up.  "I know such a man, whether in the body, or apart from the body, God knoweth; how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  On behalf of such a one will I glory:  But on my own behalf I will not glory, save in mine weaknesses."  Verse five surely shows that he is talking about himself.  "For if I should desire to glory:  I shall not be foolish:  For I shall speak the truth:  For I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth of me.  And by reason of the exceeding greatness of revelation, that I should not be exalted over much, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan."  So verse seven really clinches that he is talking about himself.  Because of the exceeding greatness of the revelation, he was given a thorn in the flesh.  "A messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted over much.  Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me."  Notice in the case of Paul, this time God says no.  He prayed to the Lord three times for the Lord to remove that thorn in the flesh that it might depart from him.  Verse nine, "And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  My power is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:  For when I am weak, then am I strong."  And that is a good reference that we need to remember.  I am not expecting any of us to be called up into the third heaven like Paul was, but God said to him, my grace is sufficient, my power made perfect in weakness.  And Paul said, “I will glory in my weaknesses, and injuries, and necessities, in persecutions, and distresses, for when I am weak, then for Christ's sake I am strong. “ So when we experience those times, when we seem like we are having great difficulties, it may be that we can be like Paul, strong for Christ during that period of weakness. 


We are back now to Acts. 14:20 again, “But as the disciples stood round about, he rose up, and entered into the city, and on the morrow he went forth with Barnabas to Derbe.  And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch."  So you see the four churches that were established on this missionary journey of Barnabas and Saul, or Paul and Barnabas. The church at Antioch of Pisidia the first church, the church at Iconium was second, Lystra the third, and Derbe the fourth.  And then they turned around and went back and revisited those churches at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch as they went back on the return part of their journey.  "And when they had preached the gospel in that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch."  Now, what did they do when they returned back to these churches?  “Confirming the souls of the disciples” That would surely include more teaching and more encouragement for them to be faithful to the Lord.  "Exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God."  Now, when they obeyed the gospel, they entered into the kingdom of God -- or the kingdom of Christ on this earth.  But they are telling them, you are going to have to suffer a lot for the Lord in order to enter into the eternal kingdom. 


You need to write down by verse 22, II Timothy 3:12, which reads, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."  So the children of God are going to have to endure a lot of things for the Lord to enter into that eternal kingdom. Peter says that we need to prepare for it (I Peter 4: 1), and not count it as a strange thing (I Peter 4:-16).  But even at that, the way of following Christ is a much better way than following the way of the devil.  Remember that great invitation that Jesus gave when he said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light  So there is a yoke, there is a burden.  There are burdens that we must bear, but they are light in comparison to the way of Satan. God’s law of sowing and reaping is never canceled (Galatians 6:7-10). It brings punishment even in this life to the disobedient and blessings to the faithful. Okay.  So what did they do when they returned back?  They were confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in faith and telling them that it would be through many tribulations that he would enter into the eternal kingdom of God..  They also appointed elders in those churches


Acts 14:23, "And when they had appointed for them elders in every church and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord on whom they had believed.” How could they have appointed elders in those churches so quickly?  Well, it may be that there were a number of men that had been leaders in the Jewish synagogue and had a background of experience.  And, of course, by the laying on of the hands of Paul, he could have given them miraculous gifts, and they would be guided by the Holy Spirit in matters pertaining to the church.  Remember one of the gifts was the gift of prophecy.  It gave them direct revelations from God to teach the brethren in those churches.  Is it not logical to conclude that it was the pattern of the apostles, to lay their hands on the brethren and give them miraculous gifts (Acts 8:14-24; I Corinthians 1:7, 9:1-2; II Timothy 1:6).  And so they appointed “elders in every church” and they “prayed with fasting”, and commended  to the Lord. So there is always a place for fasting and prayer when important things are planned or done.   


Acts 14:24, "And they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia."  You remember that Perga of Pamphylia is where John Mark turned back and went to his home in Jerusalem.  "And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.  And from thence they sailed to Antioch."  Antioch of Syria,  Antioch is the church that these three journeys recorded in the book of Act Acts all go from.  "And thence they sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.  And when they had come, and had gathered the church together."  It looks like they must have gotten there on a weekday rather than the first day of the week.  "When they had come, and had gathered  the church together, they rehearsed all things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith unto the Gentiles.  And there they tarried a long time with the disciples."  It means that they stayed at the home church, the church at Antioch of Syria for a considerable length of time.  Write down by 14:26-28, end of the first journey.


Okay.  While they were tarrying with the church at Antioch of Syria, the problem over whether or not Gentile Christians were to be circumcised came up at this first church of Gentiles.  Acts 15:1-33 and Galatians 2:1-10 are parallel references.  It looks like from both references that there must have been in all three meetings the problem over circumcision.  Galatians 2:7-10 shows that Paul and Barnabas had a private meeting with Peter, James, and John before they had a meeting with all of the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem.  Reading from Galatians chapter two, "Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me."  Going back to Galatians 1:18-19 Paul says that three years after his conversion, he went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter or Cephas and tarried with him fifteen days then he says,  “of the other apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother  Notice that Galatians 1:19, speaks of James, the Lord’s brother, as being an apostle of Christ on the level with Peter and the other apostles.  "Saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.  And then he says, Galatians 2:1, "After the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me."  And so there were at least three in the company that went to Jerusalem about the matter of circumcision, Paul and Barnabas and Titus.  Titus was a Gentile person, and he had not been circumcised, and it looks like Paul must have carried him as a test case.  If circumcision and the keeping of the law was binding on the Gentiles, then they would say that Titus must be circumcised.  "And I went up by revelation."  That was not some new method of travel of that day, but somehow they were instructed by the Holy Spirit to go up to Jerusalem and meet with the apostles and elders about the matter. 

Galatians 2:2, "and I laid before them the gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately before them who were of repute, lest by any means I should be running, or had run in vain."  So verse two states very plainly that he had a private meeting with those who were of repute, and verse five tells us who those were.  "But not even Titus, who was with me being a Greek was compelled to be circumcised."  Meaning they did not say that Titus has got to be circumcised.  "And that because of the false brethren privily brought in who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage."  So notice that verse six tells us that those brethren that came to the church at Antioch of Syria, teaching that the Gentiles in order to be saved would have to keep the law of circumcision and certain requirements of the Old Testament law.  Paul speaks of them as false brethren, who came in privily to spy out our liberty in Christ.  "Which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage."  Bondage to them and to the Old Testament religion.  "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."  There is a different spirit on the part of some brethren today. They reason that we should not outright differ, and contend with brethren when they teach wrongly, but rather treat them with love and real kindness and they will turn.  Paul and Barnabas did not think so!  They did not put up with their false teaching for one hour.  "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."  If they had not stood up for the truth of the gospel, that circumcision and the keeping of the law was not to be binding on Gentile Christians, then we today might be submitting to fleshly circumcision as a part of God's law for us. 


Galatians 2:6, "But from those who were reputed to be somewhat, whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me:  God accepteth no man's person:  For they I say who were of repute imparted nothing to me."  Paul had been given what he was to preach by revelation.  Going back to Galatians 1:11-12, "For I make known to you, brethren, that touching the gospel which was preached of me that it was not after man.  For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through the revelation of Jesus Christ."  And so Paul knew that he was teaching correctly because it came to him by revelation of Jesus Christ.  So they did not impart anything to Paul.  Why?  He was as much qualified as an apostle as they were.  Verse seven, "But contrarywise, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision (the Gentile people)  even as Peter with the gospel to the circumcision.  (the Jewish people)  For he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought for me also unto the Gentiles.  And when they perceived the grace that was given unto me."  They recognized him as having all those qualifications that they had as an apostle,  “James, and Cephas and John"  Cephas, Christ changed his name to Peter.  they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship."  Showing that they approved of them in their work of preaching to the Gentiles.  "That we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision.  Only they would that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do."  Do you remember that on the latter part of the third journey Paul was going with those messengers of the churches, carrying the bounty that he had raised from the Gentile churches to Jerusalem when he wrote the epistle to the Romans (Romans 15:15-33). 


Back to Acts fifteen.  Now, the trouble over circumcision then came up in this first Gentile church at Antioch of Syria.  And the meeting at Jerusalem is usually counted as 50 AD or approximately that date.  Now I have noticed that some of those who have written commentaries on the epistle to the Galatians have concluded that Galatians may have been written in the late forties.  Let me call attention to the fact that that would not be good logic because the matter of circumcision did not come up until about 50 AD.  Paul revisited the churches of Galatia on his second journey and delivered the decrees, that we will be reading about here in Acts fifteen, to those Gentile brethren,   and they were increasing in number daily.  So nothing is said about there being any problem over circumcision for those churches of Galatia on that second journey.  And he revisited them again on that third journey, and nothing is said from the account in Acts about their having any problem over circumcision in the churches of Galatia.  And so it must have been after Paul had visited those churches again on the third journey that that problem came up in the churches of Galatia. Those false Judaizing teachers started going in those churches that Paul and Barnabas had established on that first journey and teaching them that false doctrine.  And remember that they were willful, false teachers.  Acts fifteen shows that they made it as plain as it could be made that circumcision and keeping requirements of the Old Testament were not binding on the Gentiles.  But those false teachers were willful, false teachers, and Paul had to fight against that false doctrine in nearly all of the churches as time went on. 


Chapter Fifteen

"And  certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren."  The Gentile brethren at the church of Antioch of Syria.  Going back to Paul and Barnabas tarrying with the church in no small time, and they tarried no little time with the brethren.  "And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, axcept ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension in questioning with them."  And see we have read about that in Galatians chapter 2:1-10.  "The brethren appointed that Paul, and Barnabas and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about the question.  They therefore being brought on their way by the church passed through both Phenice and Samaria declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, and they caused great joy unto all the churches."  What does it mean when it says in the verse “therefore, that being brought on their way by the church.” Did all the church accompany them in their journey to Jerusalem?  I do not think so.  But it must be referring to the fact that the church was paying the expenses of their journey.  "They therefore being brought on their way by the church, passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles."  Meaning that they were telling them about that first journey, and evidently giving some of the details about the establishment of those churches and how that God had opened up a door of faith to the Gentiles.  And the brethren in these churches of Phenice and Samaria rejoiced to hear the good news.  "And they caused great joy unto all the brethren."  And our time is so near up, we better count verse four as the beginning place for the third part of our Class Session. A brief break was taken.


I believe it is time for us to begin.  I believe we were down to Acts 15:4, "And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and the apostles and the elders, and they rehearsed all things that God had done with them."  You see that verse four would be talking about a different meeting from the meeting that we read about in Galatians 2:1-10.  And again you might do well to write in your margin at the beginning of chapter fifteen, Galatians 2:1-10.  In the process of time, we are all prone to forget something that we have known in days past, and that should remind you that Galatians 2:1-10 is a great parallel account to Acts fifteen about the meeting about circumcision.  Verse five, "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses."  Now, it looks like from verses five and six that they have a third meeting.  In this first meeting with the apostles and elders, Paul and Barnabas were telling about their trip among the Gentiles.  And the establishment of those churches of Galatia, and in that meeting the Pharisees rose up and said it is needful to circumcise them and charge them to keep the law of Moses.  Verse six, "And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this matter."  I think verses five and six strongly imply another meaning.  It looks like to me that they gave the Pharisees a day in court as we might think of it, that they could present their case.  And Barnabas and Paul present their side, and the apostle Peter and the apostle James presented the case that the circumcision and the keeping of the law was not to be binding on the Gentiles.  So verse seven, "And when there had been much questioning."  Coming evidently from the Pharisees, having their day in court.  "Peter rose up, and said unto them, brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice among you  (Among the apostles)  "that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe."  He is talking about his being sent to the household of Cornelius to preach to those Gentiles assembled at his house as we have studied in Acts chapter ten.  "And God who knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us."  Remember as Peter was speaking to them, the Holy Spirit fell on them.  "And he made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith." 


After the Holy Spirit fell on them, Peter must have looked at those six Jewish brethren that had gone with him and said, “can any man forbid water that they should be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we  So he said, God did not make any distinction between the Jews and Gentiles, that he cleansed their hearts by faith like the other Jews had been cleansed by faith in Christ.  "Now therefore why make ye trial of God, and put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"  What does he mean by that statement that you should not put the yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear?  He is talking about the Old Testament religion, that none could live up to the requirements of that religion.  Two references that you need to keep in mind in regard to the Old Testament religion are Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 27:26.  The Old Testament gave promise of a person having spiritual life on the basis of perfection in keeping the Old Testament law.  Leviticus 18:5 reads, "He that doeth them shall live in them."  And that is the commandment that Paul is talking about in Romans chapter seven when he says, “the commandment which was unto life, this I found to be unto death.”  Why?  He could not keep the Old Testament law perfectly.  And Deuteronomy 27:26 says, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."  And so all under the law were left in that cursed condition because they violated the law.  And you see how this makes that really meaningful, that why make trial of God that ye should put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.  None were able to keep that law in such a way as stated there in Leviticus 18:5. 


Acts 15:11"But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of Jesus in like manner, as they."  So God saved the Jews and Gentiles and all nations in the same way.  He does not save the Gentile people one way and the Jewish people another way.  He does not save Japanese people one way and Americans another way.  He saves all men alike, through the exercise of their faith in Christ.  Verse twelve, "And all the multitude kept silence, and they hearkened unto Barnabas and Paul, rehearsing what signs and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles through them."  Don’t you know that that must have been interesting for the people being able to listen to them telling about all the signs and wonders that God had wrought through them at those  cities where those churches were established.  "And after they had held their peace, James answered."  Now, what James is this?  I think this is very strong evidence that this is James the Lord's brother.  Going back to Acts chapter twelve, you remember that James the brother of John, those two sons of Zebedee, that Herod had that apostle put to death with the sword and had intended to do the same thing to Peter when he was released by the angel.  Remember when he was released, he went to Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark, at Jerusalem, where the disciples were gathered together and praying for him, and when they finally went to the gate, he told them to tell these things unto James and to his brethren.  And I think that is strong evidence that this is James the Lord's brother as we have already read from Galatians 1:18-19.  And when Paul went up three years after his conversion and saw Peter, he says, “and other apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother  And I Corinthians 15:7-8 indicates that the Lord must have made his half-brother James an apostle during that forty-day period before his ascension.  He is regarded in Galatians 6:9 as being one of the pillars of the church in Jerusalem.  Now there were two apostles named James, but James the son of Zebedee had been put to death.  He was an outstanding leader in those early -- during the personal ministry of Christ and during those early days of the church, but he had been put to death.  And the other James, the only thing said about him, he is listed as one of the twelve in the gospel accounts. 


So James tells them the meaning of the prophecy of Amos.  "Brethren hearken unto me Simeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to make out of them a people of his name.  And to this agree the word of the prophets; as it is written."  And notice the quotation is from Amos the ninth chapter, verses eleven and twelve.  "After these things, I will return, and I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and will raise it up:  That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who maketh these things from abode."  And I think we have discussed Amos 9:11-12 when we were reading from the latter part of Acts two, about how that Christ had received the promise that God had made to David, that of the fruit of  his loins, he would raise up one to sit upon his throne, and that occurred when Christ ascended back to the right hand of God.  But anyway, going back to Amos chapter 1:1, Amos gives the time of his ministry.  And the time of his ministry was about a hundred and sixty years before the earthly throne of David completely fell.  The people were becoming so unfaithful that  God knew that the earthly throne of David was going to fall, and so the prophet Amos spoke of the time when it would be raised up again, that it would be raised -- the tabernacle or the house or throne of David would be raised up after the Gentiles received salvation.  And that is the point that James presses on this occasion.  Verse nineteen, "Wherefore my judgment is, that we trouble not them that from among the Gentiles are turned to God."  In other words, he is saying that this prophecy has been fulfilled because the Gentiles have salvation.  "But that we write unto them that they 1.abstain from the pollutions of idols, and 2.from fornication, and 3.from what is strangled, and 4.from blood.  For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."  Evidently some of those who had received Christ of the Jewish people were still holding onto some of the Old Testament customs and the Jews as a whole were still trying to worship by the law even though it had been fulfilled when Christ died (Colossians 2:14; Acts 21:19-24; Hebrews 8:4, 10:11-12). So James, very probably James the Lord’s brother  sums up the meeting, that we trouble not the Gentiles who turn to God, but rather that we write unto them and tell them to abstain from these four things, from the pollution of idols, and remember the Gentiles as a people were all worshiping idol gods instead of the true God.  And from fornication, fornication includes every kind of wrong sex,  and all kind of wrong sexual acts were done by the Gentile people.  At some of their temples they had both homosexual prostitutes and lesbian prostitutes.  And just about everything in the way of wrong sex, they were very much involved in it.  And so they surely needed to be taught to turn away from fornication.  "And from what is strangled and from blood."  Are those last two binding on us today?  Absolutely so.  And at the end of verse twenty-one, please write down Leviticus 17:10-14.  And there are several references that teach that the Jewish people were instructed not to eat any kind of flesh with blood in it.  But this is the clearest passage of all of them. 


Please turn to Leviticus chapter seventeen, and let us read beginning with verse ten, "And whatsoever man there is of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, that eateth any manner of blood; I will set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people."  Meaning that he would be put to death.  "For the life of the flesh is in the blood."  Do you remember when the medical profession really learned that?  Going back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one of the primary way things that was done by the doctors when people were seriously ill was they bled them.  It is stated that George Washington was out in the weather, and I guess took pneumonia, and they bled him.  And so we might well count this reference one of those pre-scientific statements in the Bible.  It has been correctly stated that the Bible is not a textbook on science, but there are some pre-scientific statements in the Bible, and Leviticus 17:11 is surely one of them.  And if people had only given proper attention to this verse they would have not been bleeding their patients back there.  "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar."  (Meaning that those animals took their place.)  They carried the animal to the tabernacle at the place of the altar for burnt offerings, and laid their hand upon the animal, and took its life, and then the priest would sprinkle the blood, and do all of those things that the law required him to do.  “For it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life."  And here we can correctly reason that every animal sacrifice that was made according to the law of God during the patriarchal dispensation and then the Jewish dispensation looked forward to the time when Christ's blood would be shed to make atonement of sin.  Animal blood just prefigured, it did not make complete atonement (Hebrews 10:4).  But it prefigured and looked forward to that time when Christ would shed his blood as the lamb of God on the cross of Calvary.  "Therefore I said unto children of Israel, no soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.  And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel are of the strangers and sojourners among them, who taketh in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten; he shall pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust."  And that is binding on us today, that if you go hunting and kill a deer or any bird or other animal, squirrel or whatever, and you intend to eat what you kill, then you are to properly bleed that animal to meet this requirement here.  He shall pour out the blood thereof and cover it.  "For as the life of all flesh."  And that includes the blood of all animals and fowls.  "For as the life of all flesh; the blood thereof is all one with the life thereof:  Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh:  For the life of all flesh is the blood thereof:  Whosoever eateth it shall be cut off."  And so keep that Old Testament reference in mind. 


Now back to Acts 15:22, "Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders with the whole church."  And so the apostles and elders and the whole church along with the Holy Spirit, verse twenty-eight, had a part in this decision.  "Then it seemed good to the apostles and elders with the whole church to choose men out of their company and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas called Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.  And they wrote thus by them."  So they write a letter, and they send two of their own members to tell them in person that circumcision and the keeping of the law is not to be binding on those Gentile brethren in the church at Antioch of Syria, and the Gentiles in other churches.  This is the letter that they write, one of those early epistles.  "The apostles and the elders brethren unto the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia."  We will notice more about that when we get to Acts sixteen.  I hope to get around to being able to point out some things by looking at the map.  So notice that the letter is directed to the church at Antioch of Syria, Syria and Cilicia, greetings.  And this would be churches in between Antioch of Syria and the territory of those Galatian churches.  "For as much as we have heard, that certain who went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, to whom we gave no commandment.  It seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."  When you think of Paul being dragged out of the city at Lystra for dead, he surely had hazarded his life for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  "We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves shall tell you the same things by word of mouth.  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things."  Now verse twenty-eight shows that there is a big difference between so-called church councils of today and this council or conference at Jerusalem over the matter of circumcision.  Some of the church councils today make their decision based on the opinions of those who meet in that conference, and the opinions of those that they represent.  Now if people meet together and take the word of the Lord and from it learn what the Bible teaches on the subject that would be altogether proper.  So-called church conferences today do not turn much on that.  But here this is during the miraculous days of the church, and they were guided by the Holy Spirit as to what they were to tell these Gentile brethren.  "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood."  So stop your worship of idol gods.  And do you remember from I Corinthians chapter eight how that some of the Corinthians wanted to go and eat with those idolaters on their feast days?  They reasoned they had such great knowledge, and that they could do such a thing and it not be wrong, but Paul told them very definitely in the latter part of chapter ten that they could not take of the table of demons and the table of the Lord, for God is a jealous God, and he is stronger. He will not allow it. "That ye abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.  From which if ye keep yourselves, it shall be well with you.  Fare ye well.  So when they were dismissed came down to Antioch:  And having gathered the multitude together they delivered the epistle.  And when they had read it, they rejoiced for the consolation."  Those brethren were happy that they were not going to have to submit to circumcision of the flesh.  As adults, it would have been very painful.  "And Judas and Silas, being themselves also prophets."  That would surely mean that they had hands laid on them and given the gift of prophecy, which gave them the ability to be guided by the Holy Spirit in teaching.  "And Judas and Silas being themselves also prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them."  So you see they taught them and confirmed them, showing them the proper way.  "And after they had spent some time there, they were dismissed in peace from the brethren unto those that had sent them forth."  In other words, Silas and Judas were dismissed to go back home if they wanted to go back home.  But Silas did not go back to Jerusalem.  And Paul chooses him as a companion to go on the second journey.  "But Paul and Barnabas tarried in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord with many others also."  So they must have stayed a considerable time at Antioch in between the first journey and the second journey.  Going back to 14:28, "And they tarried no little time with the disciples."  And here in verse 15:35, "Paul and Barnabas tarried in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord and with many others also." 


Acts 15:36, "And after some days Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us return now and visit the brethren in every city wherein we proclaim the word of the Lord."  So they are planning to go back to revisit those churches that they had established on the first journey, the churches of Galatia.  "And see how they fare."  "And Barnabas was minded to take with them John also, who was also called Mark.  But Paul thought it not good to take him with them, who withdrew from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.  And there arose a sharp contention, so that they parted asunder, one from the other.  And Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away unto Cyprus.  But Paul chose Silas, and went forth, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.  And they went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."  And then after they had gone through Syria and Cilicia, they go to those churches they had established on that first journey. 


Now, what about Paul and Barnabas, two apostles, and how they differed about taking John Mark.  There arose sharp contentions, so that they parted asunder, one from the other.  Which one was wrong, Paul or Barnabas?  Well, does it not just show that men can judge on matters of human judgment, and neither one be wrong.  Surely both of them were very sincere.  I believe John Mark is spoken of as being a cousin of Barnabas, and the family ties may have had some influence.  Plus Barnabas was just a different person from Paul.  Remember the apostles changed his name to Barnabas because of his ability to exhort and comfort people.  And remember that he was the one that had carried Paul when he went to Jerusalem to the apostles and told them how that he had seen the Lord in the way and how he had preached the gospel at Damascus, and he was the one that helped to get Paul recognized in a good way by the apostles.  Paul evidently was a man who could control himself to the point that few men can.  You remember in I Corinthians chapter fifteen, he states that he “labored more abundantly than they all,” speaking of the other twelve apostles.  Maybe he was not ready to put up with the weakness of others to the point that Barnabas was, and actually John Mark may have been helped by the attitude of both of them.  The fact that Barnabas was ready to give him another chance, but when John Mark learned that Paul did not want to carry him on the second journey, that may have well had a part in waking him up, that he needed to be very faithful in his service to the Lord.  So there are two different journeys then instead of one. A lesson that we need to learn is that it is not wrong to differ on matters of human judgment. One of the good statements made during the restoration movement was, In matters of faith let there be unity, In matters of opinion liberty, and in all matters charity.”  Barnabas chose John Mark and sailed again the same way that they had gone on that first journey, to the isle of Cyprus, but Paul chooses Silas and goes by land up to revisit those same churches.  And the first church that they revisited was the church at Derbe which was the last church that they had established on the first journey. 


Chapter Sixteen

So Acts sixteen, "And then he came also to Derbe and to Lystra.  And, behold a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess, that believed; but his father was a Greek:  The same was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium."  Now Timothy had been converted by Paul on that first journey.  His home was at Lystra, and so when they go back, he is well-recommended by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium.  Verse two, Timothy had made a lot of spiritual progress.  And Paul decided that he would be a good man for them to carry on that second journey.  But notice what he had done for him before he carried him.  "Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek." 


Now, how can you account for the fact that Paul had Timothy circumcised when he carried Titus to Jerusalem to make him a test case?  And he would not have allowed that Titus be circumcised when they went to Jerusalem about that matter.  Well, the difference is that Paul is not circumcising Timothy as a religious ordinance or requirement in religion, but he is just having him circumcised so that Timothy will be well-received when they go to cities where there were Jewish people, and it was good judgment to prevent the gospel from being hindered by Jewish people complaining that you have with you an uncircumcised man and he ought not to be with you.  So verse three again, "Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those parts:  For they all knew that his father was a Greek."  And it must have been because his father was a Greek that he had not been circumcised.  "And as they went on their way through the cities."  Through these cities that they had gone to on that first journey.  "They delivered them the decrees to keep, which had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem."  Meaning that letter that they had written telling them to abstain from those four necessary things, but that circumcision and requirements of the law was not binding on Gentiles. That letter went first to the brethren in that Gentile church at Antioch of Syria by the apostles and elders with the guidance of the Holy Spirit by the church at Jerusalem.  "They delivered them the decrees to keep which had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem."  Now notice these churches of Galatia are not in trouble by that false doctrine at the time of this second journey.  For verse five reads, "For the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily."  And there is nothing said about them being troubled at this time by false teachers saying that they had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses.  "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia  They still had two more churches to go to, Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia.  "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia."  Now, see they did not establish other churches at this time in Asia, Mysia or Bithynia.  And “when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not."  So they are being guided by the Holy Spirit as to where they should go.  Remember that there are three in this group, Paul, Silas and now Timothy.  "And passing by Mysia, they came to Troas."  Now, Luke is the writer of the book, and notice that he uses the pronoun they, meaning Paul, Silas and Timothy.  "And passing by Mysia, they came to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there was a man of Macedonia, standing, beseeching him and saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.  And when he had seen the vision, straightway we sought to go forth into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel unto them."  So verse ten shows that at Troas, Luke joined the company.  So now four men are going into European territory for the first time.  At Troas, Paul received a vision in the night, a man standing over in Macedonia and saying, come over and help us, and Luke joins the company.  Well, does not the fact that Luke joined the company seem to strongly indicate that he and Paul had had  previous association?  It looks like to me that that is a strong indication that Luke and Paul had a prior association and Luke joins the company.  And they set sail from Troas.  "Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a Roman colony:  And we were in this city tarrying certain days."  Now, remember the vision.  Paul had seen a man standing over in Macedonia, and saying, come over and help us.  And it looks like then that the purpose of that vision was to get these evangelists to go to Philippi to teach those sincere women that made up the house of Lydia. 


The fact that they had a place by the riverside where they could pray is pretty well evidence that there was no Jewish synagogue there.  So there would have not been many Jews in the city of Philippi.  It is usually considered that if there were as many as ten Jewish families in a city, that somehow they would have a place to meet, they would have a synagogue.  "And on the Sabbath day we went forth without the gate by the riverside, where we supposed that there was a place of prayer."  Did they have some kind of brush arbor arrangement that indicated that that was a place where people met together to pray?  "And we sat down and spake unto the women that were come together.  And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira."  She is a long ways from home.  Remember the city of Thyatira was one of those seven cities in Asia that the Revelation was first sent to. Lydia is a business woman, a seller of purple garments. .  Purple dye was made from shell fish and the processing of getting the dye, was a tedious, drawn-out process.  And garments that were made with purple were very expensive.  "And on the Sabbath day we went forth without the gate by a riverside, where we supposed that a place of prayer.  And we sat down, and spake unto the women that were come together."  We will stop there for this class session and begin with Acts 16:14.  Thank you for your good attention.