Today’s reading is: Acts 8-11
Acts Chapter Eight
- The death of Stephen marked the beginning of the Church’s first great persecution—headed up by the crusader Saul of Tarsus (Acts 8:1-3).
- The Lord directed for the persecution to spread the Gospel message in accordance with the Great Commission (Acts 8:4; 11:19).
- After having been scattered, the servant-helper Philip (the Evangelist, Acts 21:8) bore tremendous fruit in Samaria (Acts 8:5-13).
- The Apostles in Jerusalem dispatched Peter & John to Samaria to bestow the Holy Spirit upon the Samaritan Crossovers (Acts 8:14-25).
- Philip’s next work assignment was to an Ethiopian court official (Acts 8:26-40).
Acts Chapter Nine
- Chapter 9 describes the Lord’s first personal appearance to Saul of Tarsus, on the Damascus Road.
- Saul received permission from the High Priest in Jerusalem to travel to various foreign lands and persecute the Church (in violation of Roman Law) (Acts 9:1-2; 26:11).
- On the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to Paul in the blinding light of His glory (Acts 9:3-9; 22:3-11; 26:9-18).
- His companions were blinded and heard the voice, but not the message (Acts 9:7; 22:9).
- Saul’s one question for the Lord (Gr: κύριος, Heb: יהוה): identify Yourself by name.
- The Lord’s message was more of a commission than an invitation (Acts 22:10; 26:16-18). In later years Paul described this event as the Lord “revealing His Son in me” (Gal. 1:15-16).
- Paul was the last-call for the Lord in commissioning His Apostles (1st Cor. 15:8).
- Saul was led into Damascus where he fasted and prayed, and received prophetic visions for three days (Acts 9:8-9,12).
- Ananias of Damascus is the disciple on hand to minister to Saul and bring him into the fellowship of believers at Damascus Bible Church ✝︎ (Acts 9:10-19).
✝︎ Pastor Bob’s nickname for the local church founded in Damascus. They didn’t really call themselves that.
- Saul began an evangelistic preaching ministry in Damascus “for several days” proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues (Acts 9:20).
- This was quite the shock to his fellow Jews.
- At some point, Saul sojourned in Arabia (Gal. 1:17) to receive the mystery revelation of the Church Age from the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:12; 2:2; 1st Cor. 11:23a; Acts 20:35).
- Saul came to Damascus in order to persecute the Way, but had to flee Damascus because of Jewish persecution against the Way (Acts 9:22-25).
- Saul’s first visit to Jerusalem as an Apostle demonstrated a reluctance on the part of Jerusalem Bible Church✝︎ to accept him.
- Barnabas, however, was a testimony to grace (Acts 9:26-28).
- After a short stay, Saul was forced to flee Jerusalem because of a murder plot against him by his fellow Hellenistic Jews (Acts 9:29-30).
- A Divine result of Saul’s acceptance of Jesus as the Christ was a blessing to all Judea, Galilee, & Samaria (Acts 9:31).
✝︎ Pastor Bob’s nickname for the local church founded in Jerusalem. They didn’t really call themselves that.
- Chapter 9 concludes with the ministry of Peter through Lydda, Sharon, and Joppa (Acts 9:32-43). Peter’s ministry was remarkably imitative of Jesus Christ.
- While teaching in Lydda Bible Church✝︎, Peter healed a paralytic named Aeneas (vv.32-35).
- While teaching in Joppa Bible Church✝︎, Peter restored physical life to a girl named Tabitha (vv.36-43).
✝︎ Pastor Bob’s nickname for the local churches founded in Lydda and Joppa. They didn’t really call themselves that.
Acts Chapter Ten
- A Centurion named Cornelius was a God-fearing believer, with a believing household (Acts 10:1-2; cf. 11:17).
- He and his household will be ushered into the Church through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
- Peter will learn and teach how the new Dispensation includes both Jews and Gentiles as stewards of God’s plan and program.
- The Lord sovereignly directed Cornelius to seek Peter (Acts 10:3-8), and directed Peter to accept Cornelius’ invitation (Acts 10:9-23a).
- Cornelius expected to meet the Christ, but instead met His representative Apostle—Peter (Acts 10:23b-26).
- Peter taught a Bible class to the assembled Gentile believers (Acts 10:27-43).
- When these Gentile believers accepted the message of the crucified Christ, they were Baptized by the Holy Spirit and ushered into the Dispensation of the Church (Acts 10:44-48).
- Thus, Caesarea Bible Church✝︎ was established.
✝︎ Pastor Bob’s nickname for the local church founded in Caesarea. They didn’t really call themselves that.
Acts Chapter Eleven
- When Peter returned to Jerusalem, the Jewish believers in Jerusalem Bible Church there were disapproving of his fellowship with the uncircumcised (Acts 11:1-3).
- Persecution was the infant Church’s greatest external threat in Jerusalem.
- Legalism was the infant Church’s greatest internal threat in Jerusalem.
- Peter reviewed his ministry in Caesarea and encouraged the Jewish believers to rejoice in the grace of this new dispensation (Acts 11:4-18).
- Saul’s Jerusalem persecution resulted in believers scattering out from Jerusalem (Acts 11:19). An amazing local church was planted at that time in the Syrian city of Antioch (Acts 11:20-30).
- Evangelists were leading great numbers to Christ in Antioch, and Jerusalem Bible Church realized that Antioch Bible Church✝︎ needed proper leadership (Acts 11:20-21).
- The Apostle Barnabas (Acts 14:14; Gal. 2:9; 1st Cor. 9:6) was designated to continue the evangelism, and build them up with solid Apostolic teaching (Acts 11:22-24).
- Barnabas needed an assistant for the growing work of service in Antioch. He sent to Tarsus Bible Church✝︎ and brought Saul to help in the work (Acts 11:25-26).
- Saul had been called to Apostolic ministry in Syria, and now worked under Barnabas in a Syrian setting.
- The partnership of Barnabas & Saul built up a powerful local church which became the first body of believers to be known as “Christians” (Acts 11:26).
- When prophets from Jerusalem Bible Church✝︎ announced a coming famine, the grace-oriented believers of Antioch Bible Church✝︎ sent a love offering (Acts 11:27-30). This event introduces the Prophet Agabus to the Acts narrative.
✝︎ Pastor Bob’s nickname for the local churches founded in Tarsus, Jerusalem, and Antioch. They didn’t really call themselves that.