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Acts 11-12

Acts 11

Some of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea resisted and rebuked Peter for entering the house of a converted Gentile.

Peter then explained the whole series of events to them

Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.  11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

Then the whole story repeated and expounded to the Jews at Jerusalem 

11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John [Baptist] indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Peter’s vision of the blanket of creatures has nothing with making unclean creatures fit to eat. The vision only used the animals as an allegory referring to people of all races being called to Christ.

A Great Persecution

From the persecution and scattering of the brethren the gospel was spread abroad by the brethren, who preached the Word of God and of Christ our Salvation.  Wherever the  faithful zealous brethren of the Ekklesia  went they boldly entered the synagogues and taught Christ as the Messiah.

This will happen similarly very soon as the corporate churches will be destroyed in the tribulation and the brethren will awaken to zeal and will be a strong witness for Christ at that time; just like Saul.  Then those who awaken to zeal for the teachings and commandments of God will be an example to their neighbours and in the darkest hour of persecution many will be converted.

11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 11:20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus. 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

The Jerusalem Ekklesia then sent them help to Antioch by Barnabas, that Barnabas should go as far as Antioch.

11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

Barnabas taught them all to cleave unto Christ their espoused Husband; as a loving bride cleaves to her Beloved Husband.

11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 11:24 For he [Barnabas] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Barnabas then sought out help from Saul

Saul means “desired”  while Paul means “small, little one.”   There was no recorded official change of name for Saul; the name Paul was taken by Saul and not given to him by another; reflecting his new found humility before Christ. 

God gave Israel the kind of king the people desired

The man Saul was the kind of man desired by the leaders of Judah, but God humbled him and made him fit to be a man of God, and so Saul changed his name from “Desired” of the people;  to a contrite humble “Little One of God.” 

11:25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Yes, there were and will again be New Testament prophets

11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

Whenever God is going to personally do something, he reveals it to the people by his servants the prophets

Amos 3:7   Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

In this case a worldwide famine was prophesied

Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

The brethren then sent relief to Jerusalem and Judea by Saul and Barnabas

11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

 

Acts  12

Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.  [c 63 A.D.]

12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Easter is a mistranslation of the Greek word “Pascha”  which means   “Passover”] to bring him forth to the people [After Passover and the first High Day of Unleavened Bread].

The brethren prayed for Peter continually while he was imprisoned. 

Historically James the brother of Jesus had died and these things happened about three years before the Ekklesia fled Jerusalem for Pella.

12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Then Christ sent an angel to deliver Peter

12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth [to make a show of  him to the priests and enemies of this way], the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

The angel told Peter to get dressed and follow him

12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

Peter did so thinking himself dreaming

12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

Peter then went to the house where the apostles and disciples were praying for him

12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

Rhoda in her excitement runs to announce Peter, forgetting to open the door for him

12:14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. [It is a spirit]

Peter is finally admitted and tells his story

12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. [Peter tells his friends to go and tell the others, while he goes away] And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

Herod kills the men tasked with guarding Peter and goes to Caesarea; seeking Peter

12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

The people of Tyre and Sidon desired peace with Herod

12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

This man was then killed by God for his arrogance and persecution of the Ekklesia: For exalting himself above God; Just as many today exalt their word above the Word of God. 

Our own correction is not far off.

How is it that there is no fear of God in the Ekklesia today?

12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 12:22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms [usually a term for maggots], and gave up the ghost.

This miraculous death of Herod Agrippa 2 and the end of that cycle of persecution in Judea brought even more converts

12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied. 

Then Barnabas and Saul visited Jerusalem after their ministry at Antioch; and upon leaving Jerusalem took John Mark with them.

12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

4 Comments

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  1. Since all scripture is intended for our instruction,(II Tim 3:16) what can we learn from these chapters 11 and 12 of Acts? Several lessons suggest themselves.

    First of all, when God selects someone to do something on His behalf there can be objections by other brethren who do not understand. That’s what happened to Peter when he followed God’s command to go too the house of Cornelius as directed by God. Those critics were fortunately converted enough to understand Peter’s explanation, however, as we shall see later on, that didn’t end ethnic and racial prejudice among the brethren.

    Another lesson we can glean from these chapters is that those who teach followers of Jesus Christ by not only confessing His name, but also doing what He taught (John 15:14, Mark 3:33-35) will attract persecution in a manner that those who go along to get along do not do.

    Yet another lesson is that when a faithful, zealous, and godly teacher is imprisoned at the behest of the wicked who cannot abide his teaching, faithful, zealous, and godly brethren make intercession with fervent prayer “without ceasing”. They were even doing that when Rhoda tried to tell them that their prayers had been answered and Peter was at the door!

    Finally, the lesson that God will allow Satan and his servants to go just so far before payback is going to come upon their heads. That’s what happened to Haman, (See Esther) and Sennacherib (II Kings 19:32-37). The fervent prayers of God’s people made the difference.
    And the ultimate payback will be when Satan and all of his followers (both human and formerly spirit!)are judged and destroyed by God. (See Ezek. 28:11-19 and Mal 4:1-4).

    Thanks to you James for your own zeal in the teaching of these truths because after 42 years in corporate church of God fellowships I can assure you that such is neither taught nor (more importantly) modeled among their teachers.

    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL

  2. Tim, thank you and all those working behind the scene for your support and encouragement for this work of God. About three years ago when I was introduced to this blog I was so amazed about the degree of TRUTH coming out from the Bible through James. I got angry with myself for not studying the scriptures like the Bereans in Acts 17: 10- 11, the fact remains that if I had studied the Bible well enough during the past 41 years I would have known that it is ONLY God that one can trust for his salvation. Most of us in the CoG groups ASSUME (even today) that everything from a minister is the truth. If not, why didn’t we check on the New Moon to discover more after reading Colossians 2: 16. Because without observing the appearance of the New Moon as God gave out (Genesis 1: 14) most of the Holidays we observe will fall on wrong days just as those people worship God on the 1st day of the week instead of the 7th day. In Deuteronomy 16 : 1, God says “observe the month of Abib” for the Passover. Exodus 12 gives the full instruction on this observance. My point is that if I have been studying the scriptures well enough, I would have known that without knowing the 1st day of the moon’s appearance I cannot arrive at it’s 10th or 14th day as instructed by God in Exodus 12. So why was I groping in darkness all these years ? I am only citing this example in support of others like : women and head covering, proper observance of the Sabbath, the true meaning of the Spring and Fall Festivals of God’s Holydays etc. Let us all heed this “wake up call” brethren and study more with zeal. Thank you James, Tim and everyone else whose heart is in this work. Let’s remember NOT to lift ourselves above GOD.

  3. Kaya–

    Thank you for your kind words. If I have said anything of value it is God who deserves the credit because only by His Spirit’s guidance and leading can any of us know the truth from its many counterfeits.

    One of your observations seems worthy of further comment.
    You wrote:
    “Most of us in the CoG groups ASSUME (even today) that everything from a minister is the truth.”

    Many (if not most) of the ministry believe similarly. Their conviction has inspired them to be effective witnesses to and enforcers of traditions that are not God’s truth. (See Mark 7:9, Col 2:8, and I Cor 11:1) It has also inspired the greater majority of those in their congregations to believe similarly and go along to get along.

    Since you have been around for a while, I will cite an example that you may have also heard:

    On every holy day before taking up an offering the following scripture was read:
    Deut 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

    It was then explained that “three times” actually meant “three seasons” and so God’s people were wrongly taught by a ministry (who was also wrongly taught and believed the error they taught) that they should be giving an offering on every one of the seven annual holy days instead of the three that this scripture actually taught. The net result was to make each of the holy days into a cash cow to be milked by the corporate organizations for their advantage.

    Whether the word translated “times” can also mean “seasons”, ignores the pretty simple fact that “three” can never equal “seven”. Yet by more than doubling the obligatory offerings, corporate COG’s do collect a lot more money than they would otherwise receive–or do they?

    God can make a little go a long way (See I Kings 17:8-16) or dissipate a lot very quickly –recall how quickly the assets of the RCG/WCG Inc. vanished in the hands of non-believers and turned that institution into a Sunday, Xmas, and Easter observant abomination.

    The above example of holy day offerings is no different than ignoring New Moon observance and insisting that the Rabbinic calendar was the one in use during the time of Christ and that since He observed it, what’s all the fuss? You, I, or anybody else can satisfy their curiosity on such by looking up rabbinic calendar in Wikipedia. That entire mess didn’t come together in its present form until 1178 AD, so how could Jesus have observed something that didn’t exist during his life as a human?!

    Except, if you lack any curiosity on the matter then you, I, or anybody else will simply trust the minister who claims to be God’s servant (and who is dependent on enforcing such false traditions to maintain his salary and other corporate perks). The only solution to such wrong leadership is God’s Spirit in us and available through the serious study of and obedience to His Words which are also spirit. (see John 6:63, Acts 5:32).

    What is great about TSL web sites is that James Malm (with able assistance from Constance) is doing, on a comparative shoestring, much more than the corporate fellowships are doing with many more people and much more financial resources. How can this be? God makes up the difference by His blessings for our collective obedience, prayers, and offerings of support–that’s how it is done.

    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL

    Anything if it is right comes from God. God gives the understanding, God provides the opportunity to share knowledge and God brings the visitors. If anyone looks to me I would consider that a failure on my part. Let all people look to Almighty God our Father in Heaven above all else, let us exalt him above all else; together, forever. James

  4. Tim & James – Thank you both for pointing out the fact once again that whatever achievement man makes the greater honor, glory, and praise must always go to God. I totally agree with you both. May God bless us all (His children) to fully come to understand this important truth.

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