Today’s reading is: Acts 12-15:35
Acts Chapter Twelve
- James, the son of Zebedee, became the first Apostle of the Church to be martyred when Herod put him to the sword (Acts 12:1-2). Note: there is no requirement for a replacement to his apostleship (cf. Acts 1:17,25).
- Herod found that his popularity increased among the Jews when he increased his persecution of the Christians, so he jailed Peter (Acts 12:3).
- The believers in Jerusalem assembled in a private home (owned by Mary, the mother of John-Mark) and held a corporate prayer meeting for Peter’s protection (Acts 12:5).
- It was easier for Peter to get out of jail than to get into the prayer meeting!
- Herod met with a terrible end (Acts 12:20-23), but the Christians he persecuted thrived (Acts 12:24).
- John-Mark is introduced to the Acts narrative when he joins Barnabas and Saul for their return to Antioch (Acts 12:25).
Acts Chapter Thirteen
- Barnabas and Saul built up the believers of Antioch Bible Church†, and equipped teachers to lead that church once they departed (Acts 13:1-3).
- The Holy Spirit instructed Barnabas and Saul to undertake a missionary journey of evangelism, local church planting, and the appointing of elders (Acts 13:4ff.).
- “The First Missionary Journey” was a tour of Cyprus and south-central Turkey.
- Barnabas, Saul, and John-Mark arrived on Cyprus at the east coast city of Salamis. Their evangelism began in the Jewish synagogues.
- They traveled throughout the island.
- In the west coast city of Paphos, their conflict with a false-prophet/magician produced fruit in the Roman proconsul’s soul.
- The conflict with Elymas Bar-Jesus marks the point where Saul becomes known as Paul. It also marks the point when Paul’s name appears before Barnabas’ in the Acts narrative.
- John-Mark departed from the Paul & Barnabas party for unstated reasons (Acts 13:13) that will become a source of division later on (Acts 15:36-41).
- Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch illustrates his approach to the Gospel when preaching to Jews: an Old Testament Walk-Through, followed by a summary of the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, and concluding with an appeal to faith in Christ (Acts 13:16-41).
- The message was so powerful that the people begged them to stay through the following week, and many became saved (Acts 13:42-43).
- The extra week also gave the enemies of the Gospel time to prepare their attack (Acts 13:44-52).
- “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” is frequently used to illustrate the relationship of Sovereignty in Divine election to faith in human reception of salvation (Acts 13:48). Such application may not be as clear when juxtaposed with v.46. Great George Meisinger article in the CTS Journal.
- Paul & Barnabas moved on, but Pisidian-Antioch Bible Church† had been founded (Acts 13:52).
Acts Chapter Fourteen
- Paul & Barnabas enjoyed another successful mission in Iconium—leading many to Christ, but sparking violent opposition (Acts 14:1-7).
- In Lystra, they were considered to be the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes, because of the mighty power they demonstrated (Acts 14:8-18).
- The Jewish enemies from Pisidian-Antioch and Iconium pursued the Apostles to Lystra and influenced the mob there to stone Paul (Acts 14:19; 2nd Cor. 12:17).
- Not even being stoned to death kept Paul from completing the missionary journey (Acts 14:20ff.).
- Paul & Barnabas founded Derby Bible Church†, Lystra Bible Church† & Iconium Bible Church†, appointing elders to continue the teaching ministry (Acts 14:21-23).
- Returning to Antioch Bible Church†, the Apostle-missionaries blessed the saints with their good report (Acts 14:24-28).
Acts Chapter Fifteen
- False (legalistic) teaching came to Antioch Bible Church† from immature believers out of Judea (Acts 15:1).
- This was a similar issue to the legalism that Paul had to deal with in Galatians.
- This legalism was even worse, however, as it added an element of works to salvation by grace through faith.
- These legalists produced great dissension in their debate with the Apostles Paul & Barnabas. It became obvious to the local church that the Apostles of Antioch needed to resolve the issue with the Apostles and elders of Jerusalem (Acts 15:2).
- Once they arrived in Jerusalem, the source of the dissensions became clear—former Pharisees were attempting to dominate the Church through New Testament legalism, as they had once dominated Israel through Old Testament legalism (Acts 15:3-5).
- The Apostles and elders came together for debate (without dissension) (Acts 15:6ff.).
- Peter spoke from his experience with Gentile ministry (vv.7-11).
- Paul & Barnabas related their ministry among the Gentiles (v.12).
- James gave the final word, expressing the like-minded conclusion of the conference (vv.13-21).
- Apostolic authority will not place Law observance on any Gentile believer (v.19).
- Apostolic authority will urge Gentile believers to be mindful of stumbling blocks to Jewish evangelism (vv.20-21).
- Jewish believers in the early Church often chose to observe the Mosaic customs under the Law of Love so as to maintain a witness to their fellow Jews (Acts 16:3).
- The Apostles and elders of Jerusalem drafted a letter, and commissioned leading men from Jerusalem Bible Church† to go with Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch, and settle the dispute there (Acts 15:22-35).
† Pastor Bob’s nickname for the local churches founded in Antioch, Pisidian-Antioch, Derby, Lystra, Iconium,and Jerusalem. Those churches didn’t really call themselves that.