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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Tue, Sep 28, 2010

2 - Acts - Outline Part 2 [a]

Acts by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 2 secs

Outline Part 2

 

Acts 8:1 NASB "Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.  And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." They were all split up, except for the apostles who stayed in Jerusalem which then became the center of apostolic action and authority in the early church. Saul [8:3] becomes extremely self-righteous in his arrogance and hostility toward Christianity and he "{began} ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison." He takes it upon himself to destroy this new work. He sees it as a threat to Judaism and he becomes a one-man hit squad to go out and arrest and charge anyone who was a Christian and many of them were killed as a result of what he was doing. But we are told [4] "Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word."

Notice as we go through this section, down into chapter eight, we will constantly see the word "preaching," most of the time is the Greek word euaggelizo [e)uaggelizw]." aggelizo is the word to announce or make an announcement; the eu [or ev] means something good. So it is the proclamation of good news or the preaching of good news, it is not the word kerusso [khrussw] which is often translated "preaching." This is a key word in the gospel.

Now we are told about Philip. Two of those who were chosen in Acts chapter six are now being highlighted; Stephen first of all and now Philip. Philip goes to Samaria, we are told, and there he is going to preach the gospel. The Samaritans were looked down upon by the Jews as not being pure-blood because they had a mixed ethnic background. Notice the order of events that take place. As he begins to proclaim the gospel there are many who are saved. Many signs and wonders accompanied his preaching to authenticate what he is saying, and in verse 12 we are told, "But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike." The word "believed" is the key word for those who are saved, those who have believed what has been preached to them. So there is the order of faith in Christ first, then they are baptized in water, and in verse 14 the apostles are brought in. "Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, [15] who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit." The word "down" is used in terms of elevation; Jerusalem was up high. The Samaritan believers don't automatically get the Holy Spirit at salvation. Why? It is because there were different ethnic groups—Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles—and if they had been saved and had a completely autonomous Pentecost, as it were, arrival of the Holy Spirit, it might have led to a fragmentation in the church. They don't receive the Holy Spirit except at the hands of Peter and John, which shows that they are now unified with the leadership in Jerusalem, they are not a distinct group but now are one with the church is Jerusalem.

But what doesn't happen here? There is no speaking in languages. That will happen in chapter ten when we get to Cornelius and there wasn't a need for the evidence of speaking in languages to take place here. So we have the expansion of the gospel there and when that was done they continue to take the gospel throughout the many villages of the Samaritans. But God is not through with Philip yet. Acts 8:26 NASB "But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This is a desert {road.})" Philip is going to meet this Ethiopian who is high ion the administration of the Queen of Ethiopia. He is the treasurer for the Ethiopians and he is riding along in his chariot when the Holy Spirit tells Philip to go up to him and see what he is reading. He is reading in Isaiah chapter fifty-three, verses seven and eight, and he doesn't understand what its significance is. Philip then explains to him that Isaiah 53 relates to the Messiah and His death for sin, and explains that this applies to Jesus and that Jesus is the Son of God. Acts 8:37 NASB "[And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.']" At that point there is belief and the Ethiopian is baptized in water. Nothing else happens in terms of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Ethiopian is just going to go on back to Ethiopia and start spreading the gospel. He is just one of many people who aren't mentioned who were saved, and then they are going to go back to their home towns taking the gospel with them. Then Philip is caught away in verse 39, and that is the same word we have for the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians chapter four.  Acts 8:40 NASB "But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea." All of this happens in Samaria and in Judea, so we are still in that second section of the book talking about how the gospel is expanding.

Chapter nine brings us to the apostle Paul and his conversion. He has received a letter of authorization from the synagogues and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem to go to Damascus and to seek out, arrest and imprison Christians in Damascus. Acts 9:3, 4 NASB "As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'" Those who were with him see the light and heard someone speak but they can't hear the details. So this shows that there was an objective revelation, it was not something going on in Paul's head. The evidence here is that those who went with Paul were not supposed to hear what the Lord was going to say to him, but they did see something and they heard something which tells us that it was not just something Paul was imagining. Acts 9:5 NASB "And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He {said,} "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." The word "lord" is often used in Greek [kurioj] as we would say "sir." [6] "but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do." Paul had been blinded by the light and after three days the Lord appears to Ananias and directs him to go to where Paul is located and there he would heal him and restore his sight.

Ananias is just appalled at the idea that he has been asked to go heal Saul because he is the sworn enemy of all Christians. He follows orders, goes to Saul and restores his sight, and in verse 17 we read: "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." We see this phrase again and again in Acts and, as we have seen, it is not the same filling as Ephesians 5:18. It is a different word, pimplemi [pimplhmi], not pleroo [plhrow], and it uses a genitive clause "full of the Spirit," not "filled by means of the Spirit." So this has to do with a special kind of enduement and it is more related to the Old Testament enduement than New Testament filling of the Spirit for the spiritual life. Paul recovers his sight and is baptized, and then he spends almost two years in Damascus. During that time he is debating the Jews, "proving that Jesus is the Christ," the word there meaning that he is presenting logical, rational, historical arguments and evidence to show that Jesus is the Messiah.

Then he angers the Jews so much they plot a way to kill him. The Christians have to hide him and secretly get him out of town, and so they lower him over the walls by a basket at night. This all takes place between 35 and 37 AD. He escapes from Damascus and goes to Jerusalem but people there are afraid of him because they remember his reputation and have come to understand who he is. But Barnabas is a key player here, he is one of these people who is always putting people together and resolving conflicts. He brings Paul to the apostles and gives evidence that Paul has become a believer, so they relax. This is the first of five visits by Paul that we know of to Jerusalem in Acts. Acts 9:29 NASB "And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic {Jews;} but they were attempting to put him to death." Verse 30 is interesting: "But when the brethren learned {of it,} they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus." He needed to calm down a little bit because he was causing too much trouble. [31] "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."

Then the emphasis shifts to Peter. We are told about a couple of miracles performed by Peter, the paralyzed Aeneas in v. 33, and then he restores Dorcus, also known as Tabitha-she dies and he raises her from the dead, vv. 36-43. He stays in Joppa with Simon who is a tanner. At that time we are told that there was a Roman centurion up in Caesarea and he is going to send some men down to Joppa to seek out Peter. Cornelius is a man who feared God and he has been consistently been praying to God. He sees a vision; an angel appears to him and tells him to send some men down to Joppa and to bring Peter back to him.

The next day as Peter is praying up in Joppa up on the roof top he receives a vision from the Lord of a huge table cloth coming down from heaven, and he sees all kinds of food there. They are all kinds of things that he hasn't been able to eat because it was prohibited by the Mosaic Law. Acts 10:13 NASB "A voice came to him, 'Get up, Peter, kill and eat!'" This tells us, once again, that there is nothing wrong with killing animals for food, God authorizes it and there is nothing wrong with eating meat. Peter, though, based on his rigid observance of the law, says, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." God tells him that what he has cleansed he must not call common. At this point it is okay to eat all this food. It shows that the basic reason that God gave the dietary laws didn't have anything to do with health or because they didn't know how to cook it right. The issue here is a dispensational shift, not suddenly discovering how they are supposed to cook meat so they don't get disease. All this food is now clean.

What he also understands is that what this means is that what God has called unclean before, the Gentiles, are now clean. So when these men appear who tell him that they have been sent by Cornelius he knows then they he is to follow them. He goes back with them, meets with Cornelius, witnesses to him, and they believe in Christ. Acts 10:43 NASB "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. [44] While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message." So he preaches the gospel and the Holy Spirit falls on them, and those who were of the circumcision who believed were astonished "because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." Then they heard them speaking in languages. Notice the different order than with the Samaritans. Here there was speaking in tongues [languages] which didn't happen with the Samaritans, showing that there is not a set order for these things (in contrast to what is taught by Pentecostals).

In chapter eleven Peter goes back to Jerusalem to defend his actions. He reiterates what he saw in the vision and how God was working in the situation, and that God was bringing the Gentiles in as part of the church. Peter was there at the day of Pentecost, he was there at the Samaritan Pentecost, and now he is there for the Gentile Pentecost with Cornelius showing that all of these groups are now one in the body of Christ. 

Peter was the dominant player in the last part of chapter nine, chapter ten and the first part of chapter eleven. Now we shift back to Paul, starting in chapter nineteen, and we are talking about Antioch. We are told that as the church there is being established and is growing Barnabas, who has been working with the church at Antioch, realizes that they need some help. He thinks back to Paul and it has been about four years or so since Paul went back to Tarsus, so he retrieves him and brings him to Antioch to help with the ministry there. This is in the spring of 43. By verse 27 we shift forward a year to the spring of 44, a time when there has been a famine in Jerusalem. There has also been some hostility and persecution and this is the same time when James the brother of John is going to be martyred by Herod Antipas [12:2].

Then we shift back to Peter in 12:5. This is the last we see of Peter here. He is arrested and put in jail. Then everybody in the church is praying for him, an angel comes and releases him and he goes to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark. Then we see the church continue to grow and be protected by God. Peter goes to Caesarea and stays there, so he is out of the limelight for a while. This is about the time that Herod has a serious bout with some worms and he dies. Apparently he had messianic aspirations and so this is divine discipline as God takes him out.

We are told in verse 25 that Paul and Barnabas return from Jerusalem back to Antioch and they took John Mark with them. When they get back to Antioch in chapter thirteen this is about 47 AD, and April of 48 they are going to be sent out, commissioned by the church at Antioch, to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul is going to go on three missionary trips and a fourth journey. After the first missionary trip he is going to write one book—Galatians. After the second missionary journey he is going to write two books—I and II Thessalonians. After the third missionary trip he is going to write three—I & II Corinthians and Romans. Then there is the fourth trip when Paul is taken as a prisoner from Jerusalem to Rome, including spending two years imprisoned in Caesarea, after which he is going to write four books—Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. He is still in his first imprisonment when the book of Acts ends. He will leave after that first imprisonment, going back to Greece, to Macedonia in the north, to Ephesus, and then we believe he went to Spain and possibly as far as England (There is some tradition to support that but nothing in Scripture to support that). At which time he comes back to Rome, is arrested again the second time and this ends during the time of Nero with his execution. The rest of Acts, chapters thirteen through twenty-eight, just takes us through these four journeys.

It was always Paul's procedure to take the gospel first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. What happened in a number of places was that after there was a positive response by the Gentiles there was a reaction of jealousy among the Jewish community that did not respond positively to Paul's message, and they began to persecute him and to follow him.

When we come to the end of the book of Acts we find that Paul is under house arrest and his first imprisonment in Rome and it is the spring of 62. It is eight years before Jerusalem will fall and it has been 29 years since the crucifixion. By this time the gospel has been taken out pretty much through the known world or the Roman Empire as we know from Acts. But what we know from tradition and from other sources is that actually the gospel went to many other places. For example, Thomas went to India, Matthew and others went into North Africa, the gospel was taken into Arabia. Others took the gospel into Persia and Babylon, so the gospel spreads out over most of the known world in the first century. 

See