Our Foundation in Christ Jesus

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” – Hebrews 6:1-2.

Principles of our foundation according to the Bible:

  • One must become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3). This is the condition for entry, but not something people should be forever.
  • We should then go on to perfection, as in maturity (Hebrews 6:1-2).
  • We do this in the stature and fullness of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:13).
  • Putting away childish things is part of growing up (not only in life, but also the Kingdom)(1 Corinthians 13:11).
  • Christ gives us both the promise and the means to do just this. It does not mean we leave behind the doctrine of Christ, we just leave the constant study of the doctrine of Christ once we have digested it.
  • Peter in 1 Peter 2:2 called it that as newborn babes desire the milk (this involves the Gospel of Jesus Christ basics). However, Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 that some cannot handle the meat of the Word of God. But after the milk, you are supposed to have the meat. When you let the Gospel of Christ in your life, it begins to change you and nourish your spirit (the milk). We always have the milk now. Since we have the milk, we must desire the meat. The meat involves letting your life change to how the Bible admonishes – practicing and applying to your life Biblical principles and promises. By letting your life change being governed by the Bible, you are consuming the meat. Some people cannot handle the truth, though, which is why Paul said some of them cannot handle it.

The foundation in Christ Jesus

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16).

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Once we let the Word of God take root in our lives by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must continue to grow as trees grow once their roots are digested/buried in the earth. For the Christian, everything is rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus. This comes first in the Person of Jesus Christ, and then in the teaching of Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. After the teachings, we follow the work of Jesus Christ, for He is our All in all, the Alpha and the Omega.

John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:10 that the axe must be laid to the tree. This is referring to the Garden of Eden incident where man chose to eat from the wrong tree. The work of Jesus Christ involves cutting us away from the wrong tree when we place our faith in Christ Jesus for Salvation. That Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Law – and God intends that we who are in Christ Jesus be cut off from that tree so we can be placed onto the Tree of Life just how He originally intended. We can only do this by trusting in Jesus Christ. We eat of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through Communion/Salvation with Him, and that means we eat of the Tree of Life and receive the seed that plants us. Jesus evidenced this in Matthew 13 when talking about the tilling of the ground, and how each believer is represented in their spiritual growth.

How do we honor the Person of Jesus Christ then? Look in 1 Corinthians 3:11 above. Paul wrote his statement about that to the Corinthian people, because others were trying to build onto the foundation of Jesus Christ, when that wasn’t necessary. Some found their work destroyed, as the people strayed off doing their own things instead of focusing on the Person of Jesus Christ. Anyone laying foundations other than Jesus Christ are false prophets or false teachers that seek to make their own kingdoms instead of relying on the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah prophesied this in 28:16 as we read above. Peter quoted that in 1 Peter 2:6. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the Chief Cornerstone. He is the first one to be laid as the foundation, and then all others line up with Him. Some preachers have called this, “Coming into alignment.” He is the precious stone, not made of any old material on Earth, but of the abundance of God. Better than a pearl of great price. We do read in the Book of Revelation that He is the Alpha and Omega. This tells us then that Jesus is not only the Chief Cornerstone, but also the Capstone. He lays the foundation, and covers all of us in His Love. How awesome that is!

Oh where is your faith – Habakkuk examined

Habakkuk had witnessed the reformation under the leadership of Josiah, who was the last good King of Judah. Egypt and Babylon, though, were fighting for supremacy. As Habakkuk witnessed the mighty upheavals and tragic consequences of such struggles, he was greatly confused.

The time of this book’s writing was around the time, most likely, of the fall of Nineveh and before the actual victory of Babylon. Tyranny and strife continued to abound with lawlessness. There was strife and contention, and even oppression for righteous people. Some people lived with open sin, some worshipped idols, while others oppressed the poor and defenseless. It was a day of sin, strife, and imminent invasion, as greater disasters were coming for God’s People in Jerusalem.

Habakkuk along with Paul delighted in proclaiming “the just shall live by faith.” Paul is the one that quotes Habakkuk at least twice or thrice – to which, we see this compared: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:37. Paul quoted from the Prophet to the unbelieving Jews at Antioch, as we see in Acts 13:41.

This book is arranged in the form of a dramatic dialogue between the Prophet and Yahweh. Following this is a series of “woes” against the cruel Chaldeans and a beautiful poem expressing confidence (or faith) in the God of his Salvation. Two-thirds (most) of this unique book is a conversation between God and the Prophet. As he resolves his confusion, God’s peace fills him up and he pours out his whole being in a stirring hymn of praise, prayer, and confidence. He has a passionate protest as he speaks with God – probably one that comes from a heart of desire for what’s best for His People.

The first answer from God to Habakkuk is found in 1:5-11. God replies here that he is preparing the Babylonians to punish Judah. The Judeans don’t know, because they would probably not believe Him anyway. They would fail to believe a wicked nation would be used to punish them. Following that, we see a description of the Babylonians that shows their ruthlessness – who do as they wish with no regard to law, justice, or anything else.

An important decision is noted in 2:1. Habakkuk watches and waits for an answer from God. This is an exercise in patience, I believe, as he has to be patient with God.

God’s replies again in 2:2-4. The answer is that the greed, pride, and violence of the Babylonians will be the means of their downfall, to which, some time may pass before the judgment comes upon them, but it will definitely come. We see, though, that the just shall live by faith.

Habakkuk speaks concerning the moral problem and boldly challenges God to defend His actions in 1:13. He doesn’t see why such a wicked nation is used to punish a nation more righteous than it. Habakkuk may be blaming God or challenging Him that He has the same moral standards as the Babylonians.

Habakkuk’s consecration compares to that of “Job” and is seen in 3:16-19. The prophet here shudders as he thinks of such a judgment that has been conjured up. He hopes that he can trust in the justice and mercy of God, so he decides that fields and flock may be destroyed – however, he will stay faithful unto God. He has decided to rest in the knowledge and wisdom of God – who is of infinite power and knows what’s He’s doing! Trusting in God then would mean the answer to questions, doubts, among other complaints that he had before.

Habakkuk was very passionate about his preaching and had very fervent prayers. Judah showed no sign of improvement, and all around him, the Prophet sees violence, lawlessness, injustice, and other evils. He knows God is holy and just, so he asks God how long will He allow this wickedness to go unpunished. He couldn’t believe the iniquity of the land, and hoped God would do something!

If God is holy, as Habakkuk determines, then how can he use Babylon to punish Judah, when the Babylonians are far more wicked than the Judeans? He believes that God is unnecessarily siding with Babylon, and beholding evil – rather than deal with the Babylonians as well for their sin is equal to or greater than the Judeans (among others).

Habakkuk’s prayer was in 3:1-19. Habakkuk describes the appearance of God in His work of judging the nations and saving His People. He then recalls the mighty works that God’s done for His People, and prays that God will act on their behalf again. However, he knows that when God’s anger is troubled over sinners, Israel’s enemies aren’t the only ones who will suffer – for God’s People are also sinners, and therefore, the Prophet prays for God’s mercy in dealings with them. He pictures God’s judgment in so many vivid ways, and then he shudders of the judgment of the people. His hopes and trusts in the justice and mercy of God. Fields and flocks might be destroyed, but Habakkuk promises to remain faithful to God. He rests in God’s knowledge and wisdom, to which, the trust is the answer to his questions, doubts, and other complains that he had.

It reveals that Habakkuk must trust in God that He knows what He is doing, and that he will joy in his own Salvation. He trusts in the God of infinite wisdom and knowledge, and His Will is perfect. Deep trust is given for God, and therefore, he feels that trusting in God is the answer to the questions, doubts, and complaints.

Right before execution, Peter warns against false teachers | 2 Peter commentary

Peter constructed his second letter around 67-69 A.D., just before his execution. Peter gives stern warnings about false teachers in the church. Peter encourages believers also that good qualities will help believers avoid false teachings. He writes to them that have obtained precious faith through the righteousness of God and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Peter greets the readers, before talking about the Lord’s divine power given to us all things pertaining unto life and godliness. God has called us to glory and virtue. No additional knowledge or wisdom is needed to complete the sufficient Word of God, especially through salvation in Christ. Being partakers of the divine nature, believers have escaped the corruption of the world through lust. Virtue and knowledge shall also be added to believers’ faith. Therefore, Peter hopes that the calling and election of each believer should be sure, as so to never fall.

Next, Peter writes about the prophecy of Scripture, where he contrasts worldly ideas with God’s Word. God’s messages are free from error; His Word is true and reliable. Writers in the Bible did not write from their own interpretation, ideas, etc. – but it came from the Holy Ghost. Then, Peter talks about false teachers in the church. Teachers and leaders in the church and began to introduce heresies among God’s people. Through covetousness, false teachers commercialize the gospel. They also tell fake stories and other experiences to try to gain extra money from believers.

Peter explains that false teachers have destruction awaiting them. False teachers are described as natural, brute beasts that speak evil of the things they do not understand, and shall perish in corruption. They also receive the reward of unrighteousness and are blemishes. False teachers have eyes full of adultery, cannot cease from sin, who beguile unstable souls, who exercise covetousness, and are cursed children. False teachers, Peter explains, are willingly ignorant. Soon, the Lord will come back in the Day of Judgment, and false teachers will be destroyed by fire.

Peter writes next that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day. In addition, that the Lord will keep His promise, so that no one should perish, but instead come to repentance. “The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” – to which the Heavens pass away, the elements will melt, and the earth and its things will burn up. Peter encourages believers to live holy until that day, and concludes the letter by warning them to be careful and grow in grace.

As much as Peter and Paul disliked heresy, it seems that Peter was just as intent on getting them to stop just as Paul did. What is troubling is that even today, we are still dealing with heresies and other false teachers. Nothing has changed, because people have a common craving and that is money. Where there is a craving for money, there is recklessness in decision-making that leads to these heresies, for example.

People naturally create their own “bible” or “truth” that people are so drawn to, because they have a hunger or need for money and know they can make it if they align with the desires of men instead of the desires of God. It is a common bait-and-switch situation. But, what needs to happen, whether people like it or not, is that Biblical truth needs to be ministered on a truthful, Spirit-led level – so that people can be properly furnished with the Word of God, instead of a false truth that this world system creates. People are sucked into the teaching that they miss important details. These apostles were intent on straightening men back to the truth and making sure they focus on the truth of the Word.

Lessons from Peter and other notes

What he means by “cunningly devised fables” is that he hasn’t been giving them some kind of theory from his own imagination, but that, he himself had an experience of God’s Power through Jesus’ transfiguration, by being an eyewitness of His Majesty.

Precious faith: Peter refers to the faith as “precious” in verse one, which seems to be the thought that this is precious because it’s of great value, for a great price was given that this faith might be ours. This priceless gift comes from the “righteousness” of our God and through His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His Life – in that, we might have this treasure.

Power: The word “power” used in 1:3 is referring to “divine power” – which probably means some form of glory of the divine that is worth of note. He has given all of us this power of Divine Nature, to which, He does so for life and godliness – for He has called us to glory and virtue. He gives for us great and precious promises – we are partakers of the divine nature and we have escaped the corruption that is in the world of lust. We have everything we need to live lives of holiness in a world that is so corrupt of uncontrolled desires, to which, we must be keeping with the life that God has given us, for His Promises are the assurance of Him helping us!

Peter’s list of Christian virtues that he believes Christ taught in his parables and other messages:

  • Diligence: People need to apply determination and effort in their lives, especially in faith, for it will produce goodness.
  • Virtue: This refers to moral excellency, for virtue should be involved in how we minister. The development of good character.
  • Knowledge: We should have knowledge of God’s Will, especially in what we do for Him.
  • Temperance: We should have a form of self-control, and should be able to keep ourselves cool, especially as we minister to another. It’s important to keep ourselves sober, so that we don’t minister negativity from our heart.
  • Patience: There are many difficulties and exercises His People must endure, and should strive them in patience, so that they are not easily discouraged.
  • Godliness: Our internal exercise of the Fruit of the Spirit, expressed in everything that we do.
  • Kindness: Being kind to one another is a great way to be Christlike, just as love can be (see charity). Kindness involves doing nice things for others with delight and for their benefit.
  • Charity: We should be showing love to one another by acknowledging them as beloved by Christ, and making them feel connected in unity through kindness.

The marks of a false teacher:

  • They have no power to hold the flesh in check concerning the untruths they proclaim. (They proclaim things that are contrary to what Jesus taught, or minister in hypocrisy)
  • They secretly and often live in lust, uncleanness, and make excuses for their ungodly behavior. Or they attach God’s name with their evil. People like this seem to always find a way to involve God as a “helper” for influence by using His name to gain. It’s similar to people who commit violence in the name of God, as if God ordained such violence, even though He never does.
  • They despise authority and will not be subject to anyone (Law, government, mate, employer, etc.). These kind of people tend to be very prideful, and seems like they never learn from anyone else but themselves (and wallow in their folly – dung).
  • They are presumptuous. They are self-willed and determined to have their own way (even if against God), so they can gain a higher rank (and pride).

Strange sayings from Peter:

Natural brute beasts: Imitating wild animals that are void of any reason and following their own depraved lustful instincts. Not possessing intelligence and give way to their vicious appetites. Thus, Peter warns and reminds us “total” destruction awaits them.

Receive the reward of unrighteousness: They that count it pleasure to riot in the day time – spots they are and blemishes, who sport themselves with their own deceivings. (For the Lord is coming for a Church that doesn’t have a spot nor blemish.) These teachers of error mingle among the saints with their “spots” and “blemishes” marring and disturbing the fellowship of the Children of God.

Loved the wages of unrighteousness: Balaam, the son of Bosor, loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity. He forsook the right way and went astray, as many have in the world. They found pleasure to destroy God’s People morally and spiritually, because they desired personal gain (power and wealth, most likely).

Willingly Ignorant: Many people will become willingly ignorant for their own protection. They purposely would act dumb or do things contrary to what’s right, so a certain desire or reaping could be attained. Some people will hear truth, but not adhere to it, because they don’t want to follow it, they want to be rebellious, or they don’t think it’s true (because they don’t trust the speaker or the one who inspired the speaker).

The example of Balaam: He explained the example of Balaam, because like Balaam, false teachers would use and destroy His People, both morally and spiritually, because of their own desires for personal gain. Balaam was a false teacher, because he (falsely) announced God’s approval of the Israelites, and comforted himself with the idea that if Balak killed him, at least he could have “felt” like he did something right. Balaam tried not to see misfortune on Israel, but Balak told him to curse Israel – but since God was on Israel’s side, He defended the Israelites from Egypt. Balak then told Balaam to stop blessing them, and continued to try to get him to curse Israel – but he just kept speaking blessings over Israel as if nothing was wrong. He prophesied a victorious and prosperous time for Israel in the future, to which, never came, however. He failed to give them proper warnings, because he didn’t want to be cursed, and didn’t want the people to hate him.

Connecting thoughts

A good and sharp warning to false teachers is what usual writers would do, and Peter was not much different. He had good warnings to stay away from false teachers and anything that looks like them. Similar to Paul and other disciples, he made sure to mention the false teachers were lurking about, and he wanted to make sure other Christians knew about it, so they weren’t easily deceived.

At the time he was writing, it seemed that Peter was in prison in Rome, most likely in term of potential execution – and Peter was well aware of deceivers, for he had heard of their activities. He wanted to reassure Christians of certain truths and hoped they would remember His goodness. People taught gnostic heresies, and Christians needed to be far away from such so that they didn’t backslide.

Peter illustrated their tendencies and hopes that Christians would know the signs so they could avoid mimicking such liars, and hoped that they would only emulate Christ. If people would “think” they were false teachers, they could encounter even worse unwanted persecution or even judgment. Overall, his ministry was very helpful to me concerning God’s power at work in believers, his warning against false teachers, and his increased significance he placed on Christ’s return, which all provided good fuel for everything us “good teachers” do! We must keep to the faith in every way, and we can do this by growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord!

Paul warns the Church at Thessalonica of the Return of Jesus Christ | 1 Thessalonians commentary

On his second missionary journey (which we also see a lot of info in Acts 15-18 about it), Paul entered Europe for the first time when he went to Macedonia. The first churches that he established were in Philippi and Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first letter to the Thessalonian people only a few months after the establishment of the Church. Paul is glad of their development of character and the faith, love, and endurance that can be clearly seen. They have proved themselves to be God’s People. They look forward to the climax of their salvation at the return of Jesus Christ.

Paul admits that he preached so boldly that he endured bodily harm, but he didn’t want praise nor money. Therefore, he gave to them to help them. He worked at tent making to make an income for himself. Otherwise, he did his preaching as he could. He only wanted to bring God glory.

The Thessalonians knew they had a Word from God, and that Paul is who he said he is. The Jews were trying to prevent the message of Jesus from reaching the Gentiles, but all the while, they were preparing a big divine judgment unto themselves. Paul faced many difficulties, trials, etc. through trying to preach to the Gentiles, however, he desires to revisit them soon, and talks about how well they have progressed in their faith and love. He seems overjoyed about the love they’ve cultivated.

He talks to them about marriage and work, but they don’t need to be overly dependent on each other, but rather, be ready to help others. Faults must be corrected so that they can continue as a church, and so they don’t have non-Christians criticizing them. After this starts the info about the Return of Christ. Some were worried that those who’ve died would not experience Christ’s Return, and therefore, they want people that are alive to join them, so together, they could meet Christ.

Paul said that no one knows when He will return, however, He will come unexpectedly as a thief would. He talks more about what Christ will do once He arrives, and told them to be self-controlled, strong in faith and love, and be confident in their salvation. Having unity with Christ means that they would escape wrath and enjoy Salvation to its fullest. They need to live in a way that is pleasing to God and one that encourages others.

Lastly, he sees minor difficulties have occurred, and Church leaders had the responsibility to solve such problems. Paul reminds the members to respect those who are in leadership and don’t be offended when they need to correct you. All Christians should be helpful, joyful, prayerful, and thankful. God alone can give strength to put this advice into practice, and that God wants His People to constantly progress toward greater holiness. Paul ends it by telling them to read the letter to the Church to full understanding.

Philemon the master of Onesimus | Philemon book commentary

Scripture: Philemon

Commentary: Paul rejoices at what he heard of Philemon’s strong faith in God (for Paul is still in prison). This faith and love has strengthened the Colossian Church. He prays that Philemon would continue to share these blessings with others. Philemon was the master of Onesimus, and therefore, Paul wanted Philemon to welcome him home and forgive him. Onesimus was as a son to Paul, because he helped him so much in prison. Paul would like to keep Onesimus with him; however, he feels that Onesimus should go back to his master.

Onesimus had become useless to Philemon; however, Paul is confident that Onesimus is better and ready to come back. However, that’s Philemon’s decision to welcome him back. Whatever Philemon does, Paul wants him to do it decisively, and not because Paul has forced him to do so. If Onesimus stole or damaged anything in making his escape, Paul wants to pay the cost of it. Paul believes that Philemon would act with generosity, and give him complete freedom. To end the letter, Paul hopes to be released soon and visit Colossae. Meanwhile, he and his group send greetings to Philemon, and to the whole Church in the Colossian letter.

Comprehensive Outline of Paul’s Journeys | Acts 15-28

CHAPTER 15

·        Judaisers cause problems in the Church

o   They stated that unless a person is circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved.

§  Moses: A man called by God long ago, who was to do God’s Will in bring the people out of Egypt, and was the writer of the Pentateuch.

o   The trouble they caused spread through the Church.

o   They discussed the problem at Jerusalem.

§  The Church at Antioch appointed Paul, Barnabas, and other leaders to go to Jerusalem as representatives.

·        Paul: A man who helped persecute the Jews, before a blinding experience with God – with God instructing him to carry out His Will to preach and do missionary work.

·        Barnabas: A man that was called “The Son of Encouragement,” who was so generous, and quickly became quite a missionary with a strong will to work for the things of God.

§  They were excited along the way to talk about the Gentile conversion.

§  As soon as the meeting began, the Judaisers started their accusations.

§  After lengthy debate, Peter strongly opposed them, and defended the Gentiles.

o   Peter: This same hot-blooded man went on journeys with Jesus and did many works for the Lord. He continues in his pursuit to spread Jesus all around, and is willing to put his life on the line at all costs.

§  Jesus: The Son of God, sent to do His Will on the earth, before He ascended back to the Father at His Right Hand. He was accused of heresy, belittled, rejected, and crucified – and yet, He rose again.

·        He claimed they (the Gentiles) should not have to keep the Jewish Law.

·        The way of Salvation and entrance to the Church was by faith alone, and this was true for both Jews and Gentiles.

§  James agreed with Peter, Paul, and Barnabas.

o   James: This James is not the same that was martyred a few chapters ago. This is James, the Lord’s Brother, who had accompanied Jesus on his journey to Capernaum. This is the James that is the author of the book of James.

·        He added info on what he had witnessed with them and with Jesus.

·        James stated that the Gentiles should not have to be under Jewish Law.

·        Jews continued to see things different, though.

·        James considered that the Gentile Christians would improve relations if they were careful not to do things that Jews wouldn’t allow.

§  After acknowledging James, they took back with them two men from the Jerusalem Church, Judas and Silas, to create distinction between Jewish and Gentile groups.

§  When the group arrived in Antioch, they were glad on the outcome of the meeting.

o   Paul and Barnabas need a partner

§  They disagreed over Mark, and therefore, they split into teams.

o   John Mark: A man who had assisted Paul and Barnabas on a journey, but dropped out and went back to Jerusalem. Paul calls him unreliable and decides not to work with him. This is the same man who is the author of the book of Mark.

·        Barnabas going to Cyprus with Mark.

·        Paul going to Cilicia with Silas.

o   Silas: He was a man who had much wisdom and ability that Paul saw great potential in him to help, while they go into Gentile areas.

CHAPTER 16

·        Journey continues

o   After arriving in Lystra, Paul and Silas were joined by Timothy.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: A young man who was considered by the elders of the Galatian Church as well suited for this journey. He was half-Jewish, and Paul thought he should be circumcised. He was made an example of the Jews.

o   They passed through the Galatian areas, where the Missionaries delivered copies of the Jerusalem letter to the Churches.

o   They left Galatia and went to a certain area in Asia, where God didn’t allow them to preach.

o   After that, they went north towards Bithynia, but God prevented them there, too.

o   They traveled to Macedonia.

§  When they had left Troas, they added Luke to go with them.

·        Luke: A man who was a doctor and historic writer. He traveled with Paul quite a bit, and wrote the books of Luke and Acts.

o   They went to Philippi from Troas, where there were only a few Jews.

§  There was a group there who prayed. The Missionaries joined them.

§  A slave girl there who had an evil spirit and was a fortune teller was discovered.

·        She was probably converted, which probably prevented her ability.

o   When she couldn’t be used for money, they attacked the missionaries and rioted.

§  Paul and Silas were arrested, flogged, and thrown into prison without a trial.

§  In prison, they talked about Christ. The jailer was saved.

·        Christ: already mentioned.

§  Paul and Silas were released a bit later.

CHAPTER 17

·        Journey goes on

o   From Philippi, they moved to Thessalonica leaving Luke behind.

§  Luke: already mentioned.

§  Their preaching in the Synagogue yielded good results.

§  The Jews caused uproar in the house of Jason where Paul had been staying.

·        Paul: already mentioned.

·        Jason: A man not well known, just someone who Paul stayed with. The attackers accused him of helping a group of Jewish rebels.

o   More Jewish opposition occurred in Berea. Paul departed quickly, leaving Silas and Timothy behind.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: already mentioned.

o   Paul travels to Athens, where he sends a message to them to rejoin him soon.

§  Paul sent them back to Macedonia.

·        Timothy went to Thessalonica, Silas to Philippi, it seems.

§  Philosophers heard Paul preaching, and invited him to talk about his religion in a council of Philosophers.

·        He frequently talked about Jesus and the Resurrection close to each other, so the Philosophers thought he was talking on two gods, Jesus and Anastasis.

o   Anastasis: A Greek word used as a link between Jesus and the Resurrection.

o   Jesus: already mentioned.

·        Many different schools of thought were discussed in this meeting.

·        Paul announced that he would explain God, who is the creator and controller of the universe.

o   He also mentions more info on Jesus.

·        Many believed in what Paul was talking about, but some didn’t think Jesus’ resurrection was worth considering.

CHAPTER 18

·        Onward to Corinth

o   Paul planted a Church there.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   He met a Jewish married couple, Aquila and Priscilla.

§  Aquila and Priscilla: tent makers, like Paul, who became lifelong friends of him.

§  They, along with the other Jews, were forced to leave Rome at the command of the Emperor.

§  They likely went with Paul to the Synagogue where he preached.

·        Paul writes to the Thessalonians

o   Silas and Timothy had returned from Macedonia, bringing gifts for Paul.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: already mentioned.

o   Paul was glad on the good news from Timothy on what happened in Thessalonica, that Paul wrote them.

o   Some had criticized Paul for leaving new believers in Thessalonica to face anti-Christian troubles.

o   He instructed them in their behaviors, especially being more Christlike.

§  He also cleared up issues about Jesus’ return so they would understand better.

§  He had to send an additional letter clearing up worries over his first letter to them on Christ’s return.

·        They were afraid when he said suddenly that it meant “immediately.” He wanted to handle their fears on that.

·        Eighteen months in Corinth

o   Paul was having issues with Jews.

§  They forced him from the Synagogue.

§  He then went to preach in the house of Titius Justus.

·        Titus Justus: A Gentile, God-fearing man who lived next door.

§  Crispus believed.

·        Crispus: ruler of the Synagogue.

§  Sosthenes believed later.

·        Sosthenes: new ruler of the Synagogue later.

§  Paul kept preaching, even if they opposed him.

§  Church growth continued.

§  The local people decided to beat up one of the Jewish leaders because of their anger toward the Jews.

·        Antioch return

o   Paul wanted to return home.

o   He stopped at Cenchreae, and fulfilled a vow that he took upon himself.

o   He sailed to Ephesus where he stayed shortly.

§  He may have started a Church here at this time, but it’s unclear.

o   He left Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus.

o   He continued to try to get to Antioch.

·        He visited Churches in Galatia again.

o   He learned of a Jew named Apollos.

§  Apollos: he had detailed knowledge as a teacher of the OT references to the Messiah. He lacked knowledge of certain teachings, where Aquila and Priscilla helped him understand.

o   He returned to Corinth, helping the Church there.

§  The Corinthian Church, however, divided into factions.

§  People made favorites of teachers, so Paul dealt with it.

CHAPTER 19

·        Arriving in Ephesus

o   He met a group of twelve people who had repented and been baptized.

§  They were baptized in John the Baptist ways.

§  Paul corrected them to use Jesus’ way of doing so.

§  After that, they received the Holy Ghost.

o   After Paul preached for a few months, the Jews forced him out.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   Healing ministry also continued.

o   Sorcery, magic, and other superstitions were widespread in Ephesus.

§  God’s Power was at work nonetheless, and people turned to Him.

o   Paul aimed to go to Rome, so he could establish Christianity better.

§  First, he wanted to go to Jerusalem.

§  He wanted to bring the Jewish and Gentile churches together.

§  He sends two fellow workers to Macedonia to promote the project.

o   Paul had preached in Ephesus for three years.

o   Angry at the loss of income, the silversmiths stirred up the people against Paul.

§  With this, a riot broke out.

§  People who did not worship Artemis were in danger.

§  The Jews tried to protect themselves by saying they weren’t associated with Christians.

·        The mob didn’t care.

§  The city’s chief official defended Paul and warned the people about the riot.

CHAPTER 20

·        Traveling to Macedonia

o   Paul traveled to Macedonia to meet up with Titus, and to write 2 Corinthians.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Titus: a young preacher, who was regarded by Paul, and was eventually appointed to run a church.

o   Returning to Macedonia and Troas

§  He heard of a Jewish plot to kill him as he was setting sail.

§  He changed routes to go to Macedonia. Luke rejoined.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  He sailed then to Troas, joining the representatives of the Gentile Churches.

·        These representatives or assistants were to go with Paul to Jerusalem.

·        Paul had a final meeting with Christians in Troas, when a young man falls out of the window to his death.

o   Paul went and restored this man to life.

·        Paul travels to Assos

o   He rejoins the group and sails to Miletus.

o   He called for the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him, so he could give them final encouragement and warning.

o   Paul’s enemies in Asia were trying to turn Christians against him.

CHAPTER 21

·        Paul goes to Patara, where they changed ships and sailed to Phoenicia.

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   The group fellowshipped with the Christians at Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea.

·        Paul finally reaches Jerusalem.

o   He stayed with Mnason.

§  Mnason: A Jewish Christian from Cyprus and early member of the Jerusalem Church. He was fully agreeing of the work of Paul.

o   Jerusalem rejects the Gospel.

§  Many Christians were found in Jerusalem to be back in legalistic ways.

§  The elders gladly received the offering from the Gentile Churches.

§  The Jews didn’t care about Paul’s teachings.

·        James and his friends suggested that Paul should prove to them that he was as religious as a Jew was.

o   James: already mentioned.

§  The crowd attacks Paul

·        A riot broke out; the mob seized Paul and tried to kill him.

·        The Roman troops swiftly prevented Paul’s death through riot control.

o   Lysias didn’t know Paul or what he had done to make the Jews angry.

§  Lysias: the military commander of the Roman troops.

§  Paul addresses the mob

·        Silencing the mob, Paul spoke unto them.

CHAPTER 22

·        Paul continues speaking to the crowd

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   He spoke about his Jewish upbringing, persecution of Christians, and Jesus calling him to do His Work.

o   He then spoke of his Gentile mission, which sparked further uproar.

o   The Roman commander wanted to know the truth, which might be through flogging.

§  Paul told the soldiers that he was a Roman citizen.

·        They untied him after hearing this.

§  He was brought before the Sanhedrin to examine him.

CHAPTER 23

·        He tricks the Sanhedrin

o   He originally is God’s Apostle to the Gentiles.

o   He actually addresses himself as a Jewish Pharisee.

o   He was condemned of his Pharisaic belief in the resurrection.

o   In an uproar that had followed, the Roman soldiers saved Paul again from death.

o   The Lord was still with Paul and would bring him to Rome.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   The Jews asked Lysias to send Paul for another trial.

§  They wanted to attack and kill Paul on the way. Lysias found out, though.

·        Lysias sends Paul to Caesarea to protect him from death.

§  Lysias: already mentioned.

o   Paul did not give up his fight against the Jews.

CHAPTER 24

·        Paul imprisoned in Caesarea for two years

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   Three accusations were made against Paul.

§  First, he created uprisings among the Jews.

§  Second, he was a leader of the Nazarenes.

§  Third, he defiled the Temple in Jerusalem.

o   He denied those accusations, saying no one could prove it.

o   Felix saw that Paul was not guilty, for the only thing they had against him was that he believed in the Resurrection.

§  Felix: the one who conducted the trial upon Paul. He was a fair judge, it seems.

§  He found out more about Paul’s beliefs.

§  Then, he offered a bribe that Paul could pay, but Paul refused.

§  Instead of accepting the bribe, he remained in prison until the next governor comes who could re-see the case.

CHAPTER 25

·        The New Governor arrives in Palestine.

o   Festus: the new governor of Palestine.

o   The Jews accused Paul quickly.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   A trial was conducted before Festus.

§  He didn’t know much about the whole situation.

§  He saw no point in imprisoning Paul further.

§  Paul was released then.

§  He told Paul to go to Jerusalem to have the case dealt with there before the Sanhedrin.

§  Festus said he would judge there.

§  Paul was angry at such injustice, because Felix and Festus did not find him guilty.

·        Felix: already mentioned.

§  He turned to the final court of appeal, to Caesar himself.

·        Caesar: This was a common name given to Roman emperors, which was after the order of Julius Caesar.

o   Here, the Caesar seems to be Nero.

·        Paul before Caesar

o   Caesar had good knowledge of the Jewish religion.

CHAPTER 26

·        Paul’s innocence

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   Paul stated he believed in the Resurrection.

o   He also stated about the forgiveness of sins to all who believed.

o   He said that he could understand the Jews’ feelings, due to his persecution of Christians in the past.

o   God forgave all, though.

o   Herod Agrippa II had visited. He was there in the trial.

§  Herod Agrippa II: The son of Herod Agrippa I, and was Rome’s appointed ruler over certain aeas in the north. He knew Jewish affairs well.

§  He understood what Paul was saying and where he was coming from.

§  Paul appealed to him for support.

§  The Christians then, no longer appeared unlawful or rebellious.

o   They did not find any guilt in Paul, and an expert on Jewish affairs declared him innocent, as well.

CHAPTER 27

·        Traveling to Rome

o   Festus arranged for a centurion and a unit of Roman soldiers to take Paul and other prisoners to Rome.

§  Festus: already mentioned.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Two Christians went with Paul – Luke and a church leader of Thessalonica.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  At the port of Fair Havens, Paul advised them not to sail further because of wintry conditions.

·        However, they moved forward rejecting his advice.

·        A fierce storm soon emerges, and it was certain the ship would sink.

·        Paul believed otherwise that they’d be saved, and Paul would reach Rome.

·        Paul instructed them further to save lives.

·        He guided them in survival and stopped the soldiers from killing the prisoners when the ship broke.

·        Everyone was saved and arrived on land.

CHAPTER 28

·        Continuing to Rome

o   The island they landed on was Malta.

§  The locals were helpful and kind to them.

§  Paul, legally a prisoner, spent time with the island’s chief.

·        Paul: already mentioned.

§  Paul and Luke attended to the medical needs that everyone had.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  Three months after landing on Malta, the winter was over and sailing should begin again.

§  Paul and everyone else boarded and sailed for Puteoli (in Italy).

·        From there, they went to Rome, meeting Christians along the way.

o   Arriving in Rome

§  Paul was continually guarded by a Roman soldier.

§  He invited the Jewish leaders in Rome to come see him.

·        He talked about the events that brought him there.

·        He pointed out he did nothing wrong in Jewish Law.

·        He had no accusation against the Jewish people.

·        He made an appeal to Caesar to prove his innocence – which was successful.

·        The Jewish leaders told him they heard no reports about “Paul.”

o   They stated that people everywhere were turning against Christians.

o   Paul felt that maybe the Jerusalem Jews thought they’d achieve their goal by pushing Paul out.

§  They may not have told Rome of the trouble.

§  Paul then preaches his message to the Jews first.

·        He told them about the OT that the Gospel he preached was fulfillment of the religion of Israel.

·        Jews rejected his message, however.

§  He then preaches to the Gentiles successfully.

§  He dwelt two whole years in his own hired house.

·        He received all in hospitality that came to him.

·        He preached the Kingdom of God and taught on Jesus Christ.

He did this with great confidence, and no man forbade it.

Paul begins ministry, Antioch responds well | Acts 13-14

Scripture: Acts chapters 13-14

Commentary: The Church at Antioch is talked about first in Chapter 13, as we see it is the first Gentile Church – and it is also the first church to send off missionaries to distant places. They sent off two of the best leaders, Barnabas and Saul (now to be called Paul). They were committed to doing God’s work. Therefore, Barnabas and Paul took John Mark with them, who assisted them. They all sailed for Cyprus and immediately began preaching in the Synagogues. After this, they went west for Paphos, preaching the Gospel all around. Their preaching even resulted in the ruler of the Island to believe, even if the magician in the land persuaded him otherwise.

Then, they arrive at Perga, and John Mark left the other two and returned to Jerusalem. Paul saw failure in John Mark on this situation. However, from Perga, Paul and Barnabas went north to Galatia, and visited Antioch – some call this Pisidian Antioch, because it isn’t the same one as Antioch, Syria. They preached in the Synagogue, and the preaching was similar to Peter and Stephen’s. He outlined the history of Israel, and then showed them about the promised Savior who had come in the person of Jesus Christ. Even though the Jews in Jerusalem rejected and killed Jesus, God raised Him from the dead to show people that He truly was The Messiah, Son of David.

Those who repented and believed on Him would be forgiven. That next week, almost the entire population locally in Pisidian Antioch came to the Synagogue to hear them preach. The Jews boiled in anger about this and feared that the missionaries were taking their Gentile converts by offering them an easier religion – one promising Salvation through faith with no regard for Jewish Law.

Paul and Barnabas, however, stated that it was God’s Plan for Israel to carry out His Message of Salvation to the Gentiles. If the Jews didn’t accept Salvation, then they couldn’t preach it to the Gentiles or do God’s Will. Therefore, Paul and Barnabas turned from the Jews, and then offered Salvation to the Gentiles directly. Angering the Jews even more, they were driven away from the city. The converts, however, spread the Gospel through the nation and kept going with the work.

As we move on to chapter 14, we see Paul and Barnabas go to Iconium, where they did similar things as in Antioch. It was a similar situation, that once salvation grew/conversion grew, the Jewish people became angry and drove them away from the city. As they moved on, they healed a crippled man in Lystra, and people thought they were two of the Greek gods – therefore, the people prepared an offering for them. After doing some work in Lystra, the Jewish people stirred up trouble, and Paul was almost killed.

Then, they move to Derbe, where another Church was founded. They returned to cities where they were once persecuted, but they wanted to strengthen the churches, and therefore, they appointed elders. After a short time in Perga, they returned to the Church that sent them out. They gave thanks to God for the work He’d done through them for the Gentiles.

Peter was miraculously delivered by angels | Acts 12

Scripture: Acts chapter 12

Commentary: The fourth persecution began through Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great. He killed James, the brother of John with a sword. The Rabbis considered death by the sword disgraceful, and therefore, they were rather pleased at the death of James. The murderer of the Apostle was a relative of the Herod that killed John the Baptist. James was the first Apostle to be martyred. He was beheaded before the Jews.

Herod saw that the murder of James pleased the Jews. Herod had carried out one murder and was planning another, which was Peter’s murder. Peter’s arrest occurred during the time of “unleavened bread.” Herod was careful to avoid disturbing the Jews and shedding blood during the feast. Peter was then imprisoned in the town of Antonia where Paul was later imprisoned. Four quaternions of soldiers (being chained to two guards, with two shifts for each), which guarded him until after Easter (Passover) when they planned his death. Herod was careful to respect the Holy Days. Paul had been arrested twice before and once he had escaped.

The Angel of the Lord delivers Peter for the second time. He is sleeping chained to two guards when the Angel of the Lord awoke him and a light shined upon him. The Angel of the Lord smites Peter on the side (wake up). The Angel lifted Peter up and the chains had fallen off. Peter was told to gird up his self, bind on his sandals, cast his garment about, and follow him. Peter thought he was having a “vision.” The Angel led him through the first and second ward, the Iron Gate that lead to the city opened of its own accord before them, they came into the street of the city and the Angel had left Peter.

It would seem the Angels are doing the Father’s business, and when it’s completed, they just disappear. Peter seemed to have been in a state of stupor and not being fully aware of what was happening. The Scripture tells us some things, that Peter assured to himself that the Lord sent His Angel to deliver him from the hand of Herod, and from the expectation of the people of the Jews – to which, he means the anticipation of the Jews to see Peter killed as James.

Peter heads to John Mark’s house (the Church had met in homes, for there wasn’t a church building). They met in Mary’s home, who was the mother of Mark. They may have been travail, “desperate prayer” for Peter and the Church. Peter hurried over and knocked on the door. Rhoda came, and she often had heard Peter preach, so she recognized his voice, and ran to the others in joy that he had come. There was a lack of belief, but prayer continued. They thought she was “mad crazy” and said it must be an angel for they believed in guardian angels.

Peter still knocks. They were astonished at the sight of seeing Peter, and he beckons them with his hand and signals them to have peace. It seemed that he was quite hurried to get inside and explain the situation to them. Peter leaves them for a destination that he didn’t mention, and wanted to talk to them for a moment before he left. A brief conversation ensued, where he told them how the Lord delivered him out of prison. He wanted them to know it was the Lord and not some tall tale that the keepers of the prison would concoct. He admonished them to tell these things to James, the Lord’s brother, and to the rest of the brethren and he departed.

Herod’s wrath was vehement toward the jailers, for it was a matter of life and death to the soldiers when a prisoner was left in their charge. Herod then ordered an extensive search and finally the few guards were drilled and executed to save face for Herod. Herod then left Jerusalem and went to Caesarea where he stayed; the persecution seemed to subside for a season.

Usually, when a leader is over a team, whatever happened to the team or if they get in trouble, people then point to the leader for full responsibility. Herod had them executed so they didn’t try to put responsibility upon him for the escape. The Word of God “grew and multiplied.” Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem having fulfilled their mission. They had taken famine relief to the saints in Judea. John Mark joined them in this journey. Saul and Barnabas took Mark on their first missionary journey, but he got homesick and left the team. Saul and Barnabas separated over Mark at the beginning of the second missionary journey. Mark was a convert of Peter, and was then restored to Paul later.

The program began to gradually turn toward the Gentiles. It wasn’t that the Gospel had changed, but just began to move through the Gentiles because the Jews were quick to reject Christ. The Gospel Message began to “purge” out the demands of the Law of Moses. Quickly, Gentile Ministers came on the scene and Gentile Churches were formed. The Apostle’s council came to agreement for the program of the Gentile Church.

Teaching Peter a lesson | Acts 10

Scripture: Acts chapter 10

Commentary: God wanted to teach Peter a lesson, so He gave him a vision to show him that the old Jewish food laws were of no use any further, and there was no distinction between the two. Therefore, Peter was free to eat all foods. God tells him to go to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius. He compared the issues of clean and unclean foods with the way that people are – that they are clean and shall not be called unclean. Peter then summarizes the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and then concluded by repeating that forgiveness was available to people of any nationality. Cornelius and his household then received the gift of the Holy Ghost from God. Peter then saw that He clearly accepts Gentiles, and was also willing to baptize them.

Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

Peter is in prayer on the housetop and becomes hungry – and then falls into a trance. A sheet knit at four corners was let down from Heaven containing every kind of beast, bird, and more – Clean and unclean (four footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things and fowls of the air). A voice speaks to Peter; “arise, kill, and eat.” Peter replied, “Not, so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” This happens once and twice more. The next time the Lord speaks to Peter, he says, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Upon the third time, the sheet is received back into Heaven. Peter mused upon this with some doubt, Scripture tells us that behold, the messengers that Cornelius were not at the gate. While Peter thought on the vision, he was told by the Spirit, “Behold three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”

Cornelius’ messengers arrive, and Peter invites them into the house and suggests that they spend the night and in the morning, he will go with them. Meanwhile, Cornelius has called in his friends and a kindred with great anticipation of Peter’s coming. Peter takes a trip to Caesarea, and reluctantly enters the house of Cornelius. Cornelius is quick to fall prostrate before him. He has been brought up in a pagan culture and did not know any better. Peter responded by lifting him up and speaking to him; “Stand up, I myself also am a man” meaning I am not a god to be worshipped. Peter already knew why they had sent for him – for “God had showed him.” He was not to call any man common or unclean. Peter asks what Cornelius’ intent was in sending for him then.

This time of the Holy Ghost falling upon the Gentiles was their own “Gentiles Pentecost” – Peter and his men are astonished, that the Gentiles also receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They speak with other tongues just as it was in the Upper Room experience on the Day of Pentecost – to which, they praise God. God would save them and baptize the Gentiles in the Holy Ghost.

The Gospel has spread truly far | Acts 9

Scripture: Acts chapter 9

Commentary: Around this time, the Gospel had spread north probably around Damascus, which had a lot of Jews in population. The Sanhedrin sent the young Saul to arrest any Christian who still attended the Synagogue, and bring them to Jerusalem for trial. However, before he reached Damascus, he had an encounter with the risen Jesus that convinced him that Jesus was Lord and Christ. This persecutor became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Through one of those local Christians, God revealed that He had chosen Saul to go to different places and share the Gospel – whether it be to Gentiles and Jews.

God prepared him, though, to fulfill this difficult task. He went to new life through Baptism, which was miraculous. All of that rough background of Saul will be used only for good, because God had a plan from the start. Soon, Saul moves to Jerusalem so he could study Jewish Law, to which, his teacher was the great Rabbi Gamaliel. Similar to all the Jewish young men, he learned a trade, which was tent making. All of the different influences that Saul had affected his life and ministry. God used all of it for good!

People through the land of Damascus soon knew of the conversion of Saul. He openly joined with the Christians and argued against the Jews, and then went on to spend around three years in Arabia, before returning to Damascus. A violent opposition was stirred, to which, Saul fled for his life. He arrives in Jerusalem, to not be welcomed by Christians. People feared him, in that he was only pretending to be a Christian.

Therefore, when he found out who the true Christians were, he could imprison them. Barnabas knew better, though, and introduced Saul to the Apostles at the time in Jerusalem: Peter and James (the Lord’s brother). He made use of his time in Jerusalem by preaching the Gospel, which just made the Jews angry. When they wanted to kill Saul, he escaped quickly to his home in Tarsus. The rest of the churches in Judea didn’t know Saul personally, however, they did know of his conversion, and therefore, the persecution died down so peace could be welcomed back.

While God prepared Paul for a Gentile mission soon, he was helping Peter and other Church leaders. Peter had moved out from Jerusalem and visited some Christian groups that had formed. At Lydda, he healed a paralyzed man, and at Joppa, he brought a woman back from the dead. News spread and many people had believed.

Other notes: Saron was the name of a city, which seemed to lie between Mount Tabor and the lake of Tiberias.