Acts 8:26-40

Acts 8:26-40

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Philip was instructed to head towards the desert road leading to Gaza, some forty to fifty miles from Jerusalem. Being a desert there would be little or no water, no people, no sustenance. Then having encountered the man by God’s providence and the sovereign seeking of his lost sheep, he was then instructed to join the courtier in his chariot.

The Ethiopians were descendants of Cush, the son of Ham and were very dark-skinned people among whom there were Jews who traded. It had been part of the Persian empire and at one time fought Israel. It was a heathen people to whom God promised salvation and represented the Gentiles in a number of Scriptures. Gen.10:6-8, II Chron.14:9, Esther 1:1, I Kings 1:10-13, Ps.68:31, Isaiah 11:11,43:3, 45:14, Jer.13:23, 38:10,39:16-18, Amos 9:7. Ethiopia had many Falasha Jews who were transported to Israel when communists deposed their Emperor Haile Selassie. There have been Christians in the nation for centuries but for most of that time their religion has been a dead and corrupt orthodox one.

This man was the queen of Ethiopia’s treasurer, a eunuch and a proselyte Jew travelling to one of the feasts in Jerusalem. He was a stranger who had been circumcised and joined God’s people in worship. Much can be learned about “strangers” in both testaments-the name means non-Jew, foreigner, alien or guest. They were to obey Israel’s laws, be circumcised and treated well. Gen.17:12-14,Ex.12:19,48,49, 20:10, Lev.16:29, Num.15:14,15, 19:14, Deut.10:19, 11:14,29:22, II sam.22:45, I Kings 8:41, Ps.18:44, Is.14:1,56:6, Ezek.44:9, Matt.25:43, Eph.2:19.

We cannot assume he was alone. We know he was in a powerful chariot and likely armed.

The Spirit may have spoken to Philip either audibly or internally (c.f. Elijah)

Philip as the eunuch if he understood what he was reading because everything concerning faith depends on understanding c.f. the good soil in the parable are those who understood.

He was reading Isaiah 53-unsure whether in Greek or Hebrew.

He was reading aloud for his own benefit, or perhaps for anyone with him, because Philip heard him.

The eunuch suspected Philip could help him because the question implied that.

The eunuch’s problem was interpreting the prophecy.

Philip preached Christ, the fulfilment of all O.T. prophecy, who died and rose, poured out his spirit and commands repentance, faith and baptism with water.

The eunuch asked for baptism at the oasis.

The requirement for adult baptism is repentance and faith in Christ as the son of God.

Verse 38 by no means supports baptism by immersion because the prepositions can mean they went down TO the water and came up FROM the water. Implying they both went into the water would mean they were both submersed! Scripture teaches baptism by sprinkling or pouring signifying the sprinkling of Christ’s atoning blood and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us from above.

The Spirit caused Philip to vanish because his work was done and he had other work to do namely preaching in all the coastal towns as far as Caesarea where he eventually settled (Acts 21:8). He was an evangelist which was an apostolic helper who preached and had miraculous power.

The eunuch went on his way rejoicing in the joy of God and no doubt to be a witness to his countrymen and found an Ethiopian church. Sadly it declined and became apostate within a few centuries.

Next study (DV) April 6th on Acts 9:1-22

 

Acts 8:9-25

Simon the sorcerer

Simon was a well-known Samaritan sorcerer who through wizardry deceived the people into thinking he was the power of God (perhaps even the awaited Messiah-John 4).

Sorcery is tapping into evil powers to achieve apparent or real results that are supernatural. e.g. Jannes and Jambres (Exodus 7:11,22,8:18,19, II Tim.3:8), Elymas (Acts 13:8) also Dan.2:2, Rev.18:23).

The act of simony is seeking to buy a church office or role.

Being bewitched means they believed a lie, just as Adam and Eve did and the Galatians (Gal.3:1). It is noteworthy that both false miracles and false teaching are related in this way. The ultimate example will be that of Antichrist (II Thess.2:8-10).

Simon proudly paraded his powers so as to receive acclaim.

The Samaritans listened to him and were under his spell.

We think he was able to do actual miracles which deceived the people like the Egyptians.

The people respected him because he had been plying his trade for years.

Philip, the deacon came preaching the gospel about Christ, his work and his kingdom.

The people believed the gospel in contrast to being bewitched by the lying signs of Simon. Matthew 24:24.

Simon made a profession of faith which by Peter’s analysis was fake.

Philip, using the judgment of charity accepted this and baptized him.

Simon shadowed Philip to see his works just like many Jews in Jesus’ day.

The apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria to check on this new phenomenon of Samaritans being converted to check up on it.

We believe the Samaritans had received the Spirit in regeneration (I Cor.12:13) but not with signs e.g. tongues because as with Pentecost (Acts 2) and subsequently the gentiles/Cornelius (Acts 10) God wanted this new phase of kingdom expansion to be attested to publicly by witnesses .

The laying on of hands was simultaneous with the outpouring of the Spirit. C.f. Moses and Joshua (Deut.34:9).

Peter and John were not essential for the outpouring of the Spirit because the Ethiopian Eunuch in the same chapter was converted under Philip without them. But the public manifestation with signs following always occurred with apostles present who reported back to Jerusalem.

The sin of Simon is called simony meaning the act of selling church offices or roles.

Simon wanted this ability to enhance his reputation and perhaps make money.

Peter rebuked him in many ways saying his money should perish with him, that he was outside the kingdom, that his heart was not right and that he ought to repent and pray.

Peter was absolutely clear he was not converted or forgiven.

The gall of bitterness was an entrapment in bitter envy. Gall is bile/bile salts, very bitter substance that breaks down fat in our digestion (Deut.29:18, Heb.12:15, Prov.5:22, Matthew 27:34,48, Mark 15:23,36). Christ did not drink the gall/myrrh because it would have stupefied him.

The bond of iniquity was Simon’s perverse thinking of gaining popularity and fame which enslaved him (John 8:34).

Simon’s request for prayer like Esau’s with Jacob and Pharaoh with Moses was merely a token gesture to avoid the consequences of their actions.

We read no more about Simon because the Spirit has told us all we need to learn and it is likely he was reprobate.

The apostles on their way back to Jerusalem (about 40 miles or two days journey) preached in several Samaritan villages.

Next study (DV) Saturday March 16 at 8pm to look at Acts 8:26-40

 

Acts 8:1-8

 

Acts 8:1-8

  1. Stephen dies and is buried (v2).
  2. Saul consenting to Stephen’s death meant he wanted it, actively assisted in it (guarding the clothes) and actually took some pleasure in it.
  3. The Jewish leaders (Sanhedrin) led the persecution of the church.
  4. Saul went door to door imprisoning those who confessed being believers, no doubt treating them badly, breaking up families and imprisoning many.
  5. Though young Saul had authority.
  6. The persecution of Jewish believers was a local religious matter of no import to the Roman authorities (see also Gallio’s reaction in Acts 18:15).
  7. As a result of the persecution many of the Christians went throughout Judea and Samaria.
  8. This fulfilled part two of the great commission of Acts 1:8 after Jerusalem.
  9. Preachers (the seventy?) and witnessing believers were spread abroad making known the gospel.
  10. The apostles remained in Jerusalem initially in obedience to Acts 1:4 but later to care for the church there.

 

  1. Samaria, the city was in the centre of the northern region of the promised land called Samaria. Excavations there have uncovered the palaces of King Omri and King Ahab including their ivory palaces and Egyptian idols (I Kings 22:39, Amos 3:15, 6:1,4).

 

  1. The Samaritans had the Pentateuch and revered Moses, some as a Messiah yet to return (John 4). They offered sacrifices and worshipped on Mt. Gerizim. They were descendants of people brought from Babylon (II Kings 17:24) and local Jews, therefore mixed race and despised by the Jews.

 

  1. Philip was one of the initial seven deacons (Acts 6) and an evangelist (apostolic helper with miraculous gifting). He was married and had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8,9) and lived in Caesarea Philippi.

 

  1. He preached Christ, his glories and the kingdom of heaven.

 

  1. Philip performed miracles to authenticate his message and no doubt in opposition to Simon’s fake and Satanic ones. They included the instantaneous healing of soul/mind and body from crippling disease.

 

  1. The people studiously listened to Philip’s preaching because of the miracles and many were saved bringing spiritual joy to the city. Perhaps a number of previous converts from Jesus ministry (John 4) were involved.

 

Next study (DV) Acts 8:9-24 (or even 40) Saturday February 23rd 8pm

Acts 7:54-60

Acts 7:74-60

studyguideacts

The Jewish authorities were so angry because they were accused (and were guilty of) lawbreaking and the murder of the Messiah.

Stephen being full of the Spirit and seeing the glory of God and Christ in heaven are related in that the Spirit reveals things, not only truth of Scripture but also heavenly things (I Cor.2:9-14, II Kings 6:17). God opens eyes to reality even when it is normally invisible. He gives visions e.g. Revelation, Isaiah, Paul etc.

We believe Christ stood to receive his beloved servant and the first martyr Stephen.

The lack of a formal verdict on the part of the Jews indicates his murder was impulsive, illegal, unjust and unanimously wicked.

The Jews stopped their ears because they refused to listen to any more Stephen would say.

The Jews, without the permission of the Romans, could stone Stephen because stoning for blasphemy (false accusation Acts 6:13) was prescribed in their Law (Leviticus 24, 11,16,23, I Kings 21:10).

Stephen’s last words in verses 59,60 were very like Christ’s last from the cross (Luke 23:46).

Stephen spoke with a loud voice presumably because it was noisey and he wanted his killers to hear his call on God to forgive him and take him to glory.

Stephen asked God to forgive his murderers presumably because there were elect among them just as at the cross (and indeed there were-Saul!). He was praying for their salvation (Romans 10:1).

Stephen though dying a violent death would have experienced just falling asleep as he lost consciousness. His body fell asleep in death but his soul lived on and went to be with Christ.

PERSECUTION 

Why are Christians persecuted? Give three reasons and Scriptures.

  • The Antithesis-Gen.3:15, Eph.6:12, I John 3:13, Rev.12:17.
  • Identification with Christ- Matthew 5:10-12, John 15:18-21.
  • God’s purpose to fill up the cup of Christ’s sufferings-Col.1:24, I Peter 4:13 and conversely the wicked fill up the cup of iniquity and condemnation and also see below^
  • What is God’s purpose in it? I found seven different ones.^
  • Genesis 50:20 very important. God’s purpose is to do us good.
  • It is to purify us, wean us from the world (increase our hope), increase our dependence on him, draw us together, spread the gospel (Acts 8), witness to the unbelieving I Peter 1:7, 2:19-20, Phil.1:28*, Matthew 10:28* and even save some of the persecutors (e.g. Paul), Christ and us in him will be victorious (Rom.8:35-39, I Cor.15:57).
  • What is the need of the Christian in persecution?
  • Steadfastness: Acts 2:42, II Cor.2:7, Col.2:5, Heb.3:14.
  • Faith: Heb.11, like gold (Job 23:10, I Peter 1:7)
  • Patience: James 1:3, 5:10
  • Prayerfulness: James 5:13
  • Fearlessness*

What should our response be?

  • As above; rejoice, do good to our persecutors; pray for brethren (Heb.13:3), give practical aid.

Reasonable book on the basic theology of persecution:

Next study (DV) Sat. Feb. 2nd 8pm on Acts 8:1-8

 

 

What the Holy Spirit does.

Want to really know the essence of the Person, work and character of the Spirit of God? Read this!

Still the Spirit of Truth (2)

by Prof. David Engelsma (Standard Bearer, vol. 65, issue 16)

The Holy Spirit of God, however, the Spirit received by the glorified Jesus to be the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit poured out on the church on Pentecost, the Spirit with whom we have become familiar after some 2,000 years of church history under the new covenant—this Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Three times in the great passage of promise concerning the Spirit, John 14-16, Jesus calls the Spirit, “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Truth is His nature. Truth is His business. Truth is His unmistakable, identifying mark—His “sound” or voice.

The Holy Spirit is truth, for He is God; and God is truth.

In the Triune Being of God, the Third Person eternally conducts a full, thorough examination of the reality of the Godhead. He is always studying the Truth in order to know It (Him) with huge delight. “The Spirit searches … the deep things of God …” (I Cor. 2:10).

The Holy Spirit can no more ignore, minimize or despise the truth than He can deny Himself.

In keeping with what He is in Himself, the Spirit is the Spirit of truth also as the Pentecostal Spirit, sent by Jesus to the church. He came as the witness to the truth. He came speaking. That which He speaks is the truth, namely, Jesus the Christ as made known in the gospel which is now written in the inspired Scriptures of the New Testament, as well as in those of the Old. By this means, He teaches the elect church, guiding her into all the truth. By this means, He also convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.

Always, the Spirit has been the Spirit of the Word, of Scripture, of doctrine, of preaching, of confessions, of intellectual knowledge of propositions that are in harmony with the reality of God. He inspired Scripture (writing! a book!). He moved prophets and apostles to teach. He created the church a confessing church. He put in the church the office of “pastor and teacher” (Eph. 4:11). He guided the church in rejecting heresies and in approving and understanding right doctrines (orthodoxy!) by the formulating of creeds. He illumined the minds of countless men, women and children to know the sound words of Scripture.

That He came as the Spirit of truth was evident at once on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit-filled believers spoke the wonderful works of God (and not their wonderful feelings). Peter preached a sermon—a doctrinal, biblical sermon. Thousands were converted by believing the message. The first thing said about the life of the church after Pentecost is that it was a life of adherence to right doctrine.

It is as the Spirit of truth that He is of any benefit to the church and to the Christians. Every blessing that the Spirit gives, He gives by means of the Word. He works faith—by the truth; He forgives—by the truth; He makes men and women holy—by the truth; He comforts the distressed and fearful—by the truth; He preserves believers to eternal glory—by the truth; He unites the saints—by the truth.

The Reformed faith confesses the indispensable instrumentality of the truth for the saving work of the Spirit in Question 65 of the Heidelberg Catechism, when it says about the faith by which alone we share in Christ and all His benefits that it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit “by the preaching of the gospel.” The Reformed believer who makes this his or her own is really saying, “I believe in the Spirit as the Spirit of truth.”

We should act accordingly.

As a believer, do I seek the riches that are in the risen Christ? I should! I must attend to the Word and doctrine, to the truth. I must see to it that I am a member of a church that maintains the truth. I must use the means of grace diligently. I may leave this church, whether for a church that corrupts the truth or for no church at all, for no reason. I may not despise the lively preaching of the truth. To do so is to forfeit the presence, operations, power, and gifts of the Spirit, if not to “do despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29; cf. v. 25), for He is the Spirit of truth.

As a preacher, do I desire, ardently desire, a spiritual congregation—a congregation of saints who love God and who love each other for God’s sake (which is different from, though it includes, having deep feeling for each other)? I should! I must give myself to preaching and teaching. There will never be a spiritual church where the truth is not faithfully preached. There cannot be. If there is, the Spirit has ceased being the Spirit of truth.

As a body of elders, do we take seriously our responsibility to keep the flock of Christ? We should! We must above all else make sure that the preaching on the Sabbath and the catechism instruction during the week are the sound, faithful explanation of God’s Word. This will guard and build up the church, not because preaching and teaching in themselves have this power, but because the Spirit is the Spirit of truth, making Christ’s words spirit and life.

What then must we make of the strange “Spirit” of our day—indifferent to doctrine; friend of the lie; critic of Scripture; contemptuous of creeds; disparaging of pure preaching?

One of two things must be true. Either the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ has changed recently, so as no longer to be the Spirit of truth, or this strange “Spirit” is not the Spirit of Christ.

But the Holy Spirit cannot change. He is still the Spirit of truth.

Acts 7:1-53

The high priest asked Stephen whether the accusations of blasphemy against him were true (Acts 6:13).

Best mode of defence is attack! He wanted to ground his accusations against them firmly in the history of the Jews through the scriptures.

His defence was to show the faithfulness of God and the people’s repeated ingratitude and idolatry.

In the history of Abraham he emphasized his call, the covenant, prophesy regarding Egypt. Abraham was an example of a believer in Messiah who faithfully obeyed.

The covenant of circumcision or the Abrahamic covenant was a promise to be his God and bless all nations through his seed the sign of which was circumcision of all the males in his family and his servants.

Stephen mentioned Joseph because he was a victim of the envy and wickedness of their forefathers.

Stephen repeatedly emphasized how the Jews rebelled against God.

Moses too was rejected twice as God’s deliverer (verses 29,37).

Stephen refers to the Prophet Moses said would come namely Christ (Deut.18:18).

Christ was in the church in the wilderness as the Rock that followed them (I Cor.10:4).

The angel who spoke at Sinai was also Christ and the lively oracles were the law including the ten commandments.

Stephen’s point in recounting the Jews’ rebellion and idolatry was to show this was typical and continued to the present.

The reference in verses 42043 is Amos 5:25-27.

Moloch or Molech was a Canaanite deity who was worshipped by child sacrifice which was specifically prohibited by God in Leviticus 18:21, 20:2-4. This happened in Tophet (the valley of Hinnom) outside Jerusalem (II Kings 23:10). Remphan was an Egyptian idol also called Chiun.

The punishment for Israel’s idolatry was that almost all who exited Egypt died in the wilderness and never reached the promised land.

The tabernacl of witness was the tabernacle erected by Moses.

Stephen said the fathers brought the tabernacle into Canaan because it represented the presence of God among them.

The temple, a type of Christ’s body and heaven and was where God said he would be worshipped and would specially dwell yet we know God is omnipresent as is Christ in his deity.

Stephen’s accusation followed from the rest of his speech in that the Jewsih leaders he was accusing had continued the people’s habitual rejection of God’s servants by crucifying Christ.

Stiffnecked means not pliable, stubborn like an ox that won’t do it’s work under the yoke.

Being uncircumcised in heart and ears means unregenerate, filthy and dull of hearing ( Matt.13:13, Prov.20:12).

Resisting the Holy Spirit means resisting the message brought by God’s servants because the Spirit himself works irresistably in grace. The Jews did this by rejecting Moses, Joseph and repeated idol worship.

Stephen linked the fathers’ killing of the prophets and the Jews recent killing of Christ in that the message of the prophets was Christ coming.

He called Jesus the Just One because he is the only perfectly just or righteous man who ever lived.

Stephen accused them of killing Christ and betraying him to the Romans.

His accusation in verse 53 was especially cutting in that it exposed their hypocrisy being as they thought, keepers of the law, but blatantly breaking it.

The disposition of angels means that when God revealed the law and also book of Revelation he used angels as intermediate messengers.

NEXT STUDY (DV) January 12th 8pm Acts 7:54-60

 

Acts 6

CPRC Men’s BS

Acts 6

Verses 1-8 These verses record the institution of the office of deacon and the increase of the church.

  1. “Those days” were the early days of the NT church from around AD33 onwards when the number of disciples multiplied.
  2. The problem that arose was that the Greek widows were not being catered for as the Jewish ones were, in the benevolence being distributed by the church.
  3. The Grecians (Greeks) were non-Jewish widows living in Jerusalem, presumably previously married to proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism) who were now believers.
  4. The Hebrews were Jewish widows now converted.
  5. The “daily ministration” were the daily distribution of money or gifts in kind (e.g. food) to those in need.
  6. The problem concerned the widows because they and presumably their orphans had no means of support. See James 1:27, I Tim.5:3, 5,9-16 where Paul’s criteria are set forth.
  7. Perhaps they did not have a comprehensive list (as they later did as Paul speaks of the “number”) and only the well-known Jewish widows were being remembered.
  8. The apostles decided to institute the office of deacon, or distributer of alms by the election of the congregation of whom there were to be seven men to oversee this work.
  9. The whole church made their choices known to the apostles-how we are not told.
  10. This tells us the congregation chose them and the apostles ordained them and what their duties were.
  11. The laying on of hands was the setting apart in ordination by the apostles (nowadays church elders) who by this act: a) Commissioned them and identified with them (support/prayer)
  12.                                            b) Conferred on them authority/gifting/power. See II Tim.1:6, I Tim. 4:14, Heb.6:2. This ordination originated with Moses and the Levites (Num.8:10) and Joshua (Num.27:18-23 and Deut. 34:9).
  13. This is a model for the church today where according to our church order confessing male members elect men to office who are then ordained by elders laying on their hands, because it is Biblical.
  14. Numbers in the church grew and noteworthy were the number of priests converted.
  15. The requirements of a deacon are: sincerity, fullness of the Spirit, wisdom, sobriety, blamelessness, one wife (or single), having been proved (I Tim.3:8-13).
  16. Stephen was able to do great wonders and miracles because he was gifted (I Cor.12:9,10).

Acts 6:9-15

The Jews’ false witness against Stephen

  1. The various groups arrayed against Stephen were the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians and Asians, all presumably Jewish proselytes.
  2. The synagogue of the Libertines were either a very liberal synagogue (antinomian) or one composed of previous slaves (Jews or heathen) of the Romans who had gained their freedom after their enslavement by General Pompey 63BC.
  3. Cyrenians were from Libya (e.g. Simon who carried the cross). Alexandrians were from Egypt’s largest city. The Cilicians and Asians were from what is now Turkey where Paul would evangelise later.
  4. They could not refute Stephen’s message because it was Scripturally based, reasonable and Spirit-inspired (Psalm 119:98, Luke 21:15). He knew his Old Testament history and its explanation/fulfilment in Christ very well.
  5. Instead they pressganged wicked liars to make false charges against him.
  6. The accused Stephen of speaking ill in blasphemy against Moses and God.
  7. The Jews misinterpreted Jesus words concerning the destruction of the temple of his body and his adding to the law of Moses in the Beatitudes (Matt.5 for example).
  8. The accusation would have merited the death penalty because it betrayed hatred of Moses and God (Lev.24:10-16).
  9. Stephen’s face shone (like Moses when he came down from the mount), with joy and holiness, reflecting the glory of God in the face of Christ whom he was beholding (Ps.34:5, II Cor.3:18).
  10. This happened for two reasons: firstly to convince the accusers of his holiness and truth and glory and secondly to prepare him for his upward call.

 

Next study (DV) Thursday December 20th 8pm on Acts 7.

Acts 5:17-42

 

Acts 5:17-33

Confrontation between Jewish authorities and the apostles

  1. The Sadducees are specifically mentioned in v 17 because they appeared to control the council and certainly occupied chief positions e.g. high priest.
  2. They arrested and imprisoned the apostles to try and stop the church growing. See Luke 3:20.
  3. God counteracted this by freeing the apostles because he wanted their ministry to continue.
  4. The “words of this life” are the whole counsel of God/the gospel.
  5. The purpose of calling together the council or Sanhedrin was to hear different views and make a combined decision about how to act.
  6. Upon discovering the prison shut but the apostles gone their concern was how the movement would grow.
  7. They really ought to have wondered how the apostles got out. See Luke 21:12 ans Acts 12:19.
  8. The authorities (Captain of temple guard and his officers) were afraid of being stoned because the apostles had such a following and even unbelievers esteemed them.
  9. Being accused of bringing Christ’s blood upon them, the authorities, because it was true must have had troubled consciences.
  10. It was the intention of the apostles to blame the unbelieving authorities for Christ’s death. See Acts 2:36.
  11. Peter emphasized the need to obey God rather than men to make clear their stance.
  12. Peter in v 30 did agree with the accusation of v 28.
  13. Peter emphasized the resurrection in v 30 because it is a gospel fundamental, it exposed the Jews’ impotence and the power of God to irresistibly fulfil his purposes.
  14. Mentioning the “God of our fathers” and “Israel” implies that the Jews ought to have known about the coming Messiah from the Pentateuch who was sent to bless Israel.
  15. Since he is divine the Spirit clearly witnessed, indeed decreed the death resurrection and exaltation of Christ but he also convinces the elect of all these truths.
  16. The Jews were enraged because they were being pronounced guilty, they hated Christ and wanted to silence the apostles and their consciences.
    • This reaction shows that sin:
    •  a)  Hates being exposed by the truth (John 3:19-21)
    • b) Hates repentance
    • c) Enslaves and holds people till irresistible grace frees them.

Acts 5:34-40

  1. Gamaliel was a revered Pharisee and teacher and member of the council who taught Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:3).
  2. His advice was given without the apostles being present perhaps because the council would not want the apostles to know they had any support in the council.
  3. His warning was for the council to take care because two men who had caused previous insurrections namely Theudas and Judas had both been killed and their followers scattered.
  4. Gamaliel’s advice was just to leave the apostles alone because if the movement was of God it could not be successfully opposed but if it was not it would fizzle out.
  5. It seemed a principled suggestion and actually sensible and pragmatic.
  6. From the Jews’ viewpoint it may have appeared bad advice because their influence would wane if the apostles message spread.
  7. They beat the apostles because they were cruel and vindictive, wanted to assert their authority and try to deter them.

Acts 5:41-42

  1. The apostles rejoiced because they were counted worthy of suffering for Christ. (Matt.5:11,12, II Cor.1:7, I Pet.4:12,13, Rom.8:17, I Pet.2:20)
  2. They continued to teach and preach.
  3. Their attitude and action are examples for us to:

Obey the Lord by preaching and witnessing to the true Christ as opportunity presents and being ready to suffer for his sake.

 

Next study Acts 6:1-15 Saturday December 1st 8pm DV.

 

Please remember that we are all called to study Scripture to be approved by God and personal Bible Study is always blessed and remembered, so come prepared and recruit others!

Acts 5:1-16

Acts 5:1-10

The story of Ananias and Sapphira in contrast to Barnabas introduced appropriately by the word “but”.

  1. Perhaps Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be members of the church for the status or to appear righteous but they were hypocrites planted by Satan.
  2. They sold land or a house but kept back some of the proceeds but told the church they had brought all the proceeds as a gift.
  3. It was not wrong per se to give only part of the sale price because it was theirs.
  4. Their deception was to tell lies about how much the sale was perhaps wanting to appear righteous and generous.
  5. We guess the Spirit told Peter expressly what Ananias had done cf. Acts 8:29, 10:19, 16:7, I Sam. 9:15, 16:12, I Tim.4:1.
  6. Peter quizzed Sapphira and not Ananias perhaps in the hope she would repent and tell the truth. Ananias clearly as the head and leader bore ultimately the greater responsibility.
  7. Their sin was deceit/lying to God and men perhaps motivated by self-aggrandisement and the love of money. Satan moved them.
  8. They had lied to men but the greater sin was to lie to God and not only men.
  9. Ananias had conceived the pretence believing no one would know including God.
  10. The punishment was so swift and severe to make them an example to the early church and expose hypocrisy (bit like man gathering sticks on the Sabbath in Numbers 15:32). It was a major public sin (like Achan’s). The wages of sin is death and with some it does not tarry.
  11. God inflicted the punishment.
  12. They had tempted or tested the Spirit unaware of his omniscience and power.
  13. The great fear was reverence and awe tinged with alarm (Gr: for fear is PHOBOS).

Acts 5:12-16

  1. Signs in Scripture are supernatural pointers to spiritual reality i.e. have a deeper meaning. They are usually performed by God’s messengers e.g. Moses, Elijah/Elisha, Christ and the apostles and confined to certain times in history where God had to authenticate and show the authority of his messengers. They include miracles and can even be performed by the wicked e.g. magicians in Egypt and Antichrist ( II. Thess. 2:9). Also Belshazzar’s writing on the wall* and Hezekiah’s sundial. They may be a portent*
  2. Wonders are happenings that are strange, sometimes natural events or calamities (Joel 2:30,31) that make people seek a reason for them. They me be a vision e.g. Rev.12:1,3.
  3. These two are often mentioned or occur together. God causes both, one through his servants, the other directly.
  4. These two class of miracles are thus described as signifying something deeper and making people question why.
  5. Their purpose is to authenticate that the messenger is divinely appointed and authoritative (in the case of the apostles before the completion of the canon of Scripture I Cor.12, II Cor.12:12).
  6. The apostles healed many people and drove out demons. Paul also struck a man blind.
  7. Peter may be singled out for special privilege because he was the natural leader.
  8. Miracles done by his shadow seem even more amazing than Jesus’ miracles where he touched people, was touched or gave commandment.
  9. The miracles served to keep some people away (“the rest”) from the apostolic band perhaps because they were opponents.
  10. They dare not join the church probably because they were not true believers and would come with wrong motives.
  11. But many others thought highly of the apostles and the church and joined them.

Next study Acts 5:17-40 (bottom page 40) November 5th 8pm (DV).

Acts 4:23-37

 

Acts 4:23-31

  1. After they were let go by the Sanhedrin Peter and John went to the gathering of the disciples (possibly the 120) and related all that had happened.
  2. Their reaction was united prayer.
  3. They started their prayer with God as creator because this was the beginning of his decree and first revelation of almighty power.
  4. The church quoted David in Psalm 2:1 because what had happened was in direct fulfilment of this prophesy. It is notable that David is at least twice quoted in first books of Acts.
  5. They called Christ “thy holy child” which in the Greek is either boy or servant perhaps to emphasise his humanity, his human helplessness and the fact he was God’s child and servant in the same way we are God’s children (Gal.3:26, I Thess.5:5 and Heb.12:5).
  6. Four people/groups are mentioned.
  7. Herod represented the kings of the earth and the people of Israel even though he was an Edomite.
  8. Pilate and the gentiles represented the rulers and the heathen (Romans).The people of Israel represented themselves the Jews.
  9. The wicked deeds of all these were decreed and under the sovereign control of God and this also means nothing in our lives is outside his control, Fatherly care and love.
  10. God’s hand is his providence and power to act-note how our hands can do everything from wielding a heavy hammer to intricate microscopic operations (similarly his working). This ought to comfort us in relation to the details of our lives.
  11. In the face of these threats the church asked God for boldness and confirmatory miraculous signs because it would be natural to be intimidated.
  12. Healing and other miracles were important because the apostles needed authentication before the authoritative canon of Scripture was closed. (II Cor 12:12).
  13. The shaking of the building served as an encouragement to those inside and proves God is working. C.f. Isaiah 6, Acts 16, Elijah on the mount, Mount Sinai, many Psalms e.g. 77:18, and the time of Golgotha. This tells us of the almighty Spirit.                               Acts 4:32-37
  1. The unity of the early church was manifest in them sharing all they had.
  2. They had all things in common because they recognised God as the giver and their need to help the needy (II Cor.8:8-14, II Cor. 9:7 f. f). This was before the first deacons and the role of the widows.
  3. The power with which the apostles witnessed to the resurrection was the power of the Spirit.
  4. “Great grace” is God’s enabling to preach and witness boldly (
  5. I Tim.1:7), give generously and desire the means of grace. It was exhibited in the fruit of the Spirit and the ability to fulfil their callings.
  6. Their generous sharing is descriptive not prescriptive. In other words God recognises private property but also that giving be done freely without coercion. He does expect the rich to be rich in good deeds of sharing (I Tim.6:18).
  7. Barnabas (son of encouragement) was the nickname given to Joses, a Levite born in Cyprus who sold land and brought all the proceeds to the apostle as an example of generosity contrasted with events in the next chapter.

Next study Sat. October 6th on Acts 5:1-16