This video is presented by Curt Crist, pastor/teacher of ‘Welcome To Grace Ministries’: welcometograce.com
The Bible used is a King James Bible (KJV A.V. 1611). The King James Bible is NOT copy-right protected! It can be downloaded for free at: http://www.bibleprotector.com/KJB-PCE-MINION.pdf
Complete notes below, watch the bible study and read along. Enjoy!
Join us for ‘Welcome to grace’, where we will discover together the distinctiveness of Paul’s Apostleship, through the rightly divided word of truth. Now, join pastor and Bible teacher Curt Crist, as we explore the unsearchable riches of Christ!
Paul made the statement; “be followers together of him”, a statement he made three times, so we’re looking at the book of acts right now to see what took place in our Bibles, when a change took place from one program to the next. Before we jump full force into today’s study I want to do a brief recap of what we studied thus far in the book of acts. This is an important book, an extremely important book to understand, because acts is the book upon which many belief systems; denominational belief systems, have been established. Is there a difference between God God’s plan and program for the nation Israel and his plan and program for the church today, called the body of Christ. We believe there is indeed a difference, in fact I would say that most fundamental denominational Bible scholars believe there’s a difference in those two programs. For example, if you believe in a rapture of the body of Christ, that we will be caught up in the air to be with him one day, a catching away is how some people prefer to express it, after which God will bring his program concerning Israel and the land to completion. Then you understand that there are differences in what God promise to do through the nation he will recognize as true Israel, in time future, and that which God is doing today, during an age where he is not recognizing any nation above any other nation. People who speak of an age of grace, understand there are differences in this age and other ages spoken of in the Bible. Sometimes that word age is translated world. In actually it is the word age. God is the same, we know he does not change. While God is the same when it comes to who he is; his character, all that makes him who he is: God. He’ll never change in those respects. God has indeed changed in the way he deals with man down through the course of time, so we are not building arcs today, we are not bringing our sacrifices to a temple today. While some are being baptized for the remission of their sins, as taught by John, the 12 apostles and Jesus Christ while he ministered upon the earth, while some of those people will state emphatically that you cannot be saved, unless you are baptized, others believe today that water baptism is simply a testimony which should be expressed by those who are already saved. While these folks would believe it’s an important part of the Christian experience, they don’t believe it saves anyone. Still others believe that the apostle of the Gentiles, the apostle Paul, reveals a different baptism altogether. A baptism whereby the Holy Spirit immerses every grace age believer, not into the agent of water, but into the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So these folks take Paul seriously when he states in Ephesians 4:5; that being baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ is the only baptism God recognizes today:
Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Some believe that the miraculous powers present at Pentecost are still in operation today, and they’re working those things out in their assemblies. Others do not take that view at all. Why all the differences in denominations? Well the issue really is where the church the body of Christ had its entrance; where the church the body of Christ began, and this is where an understanding of the book of acts is vitally important. Did the church began at acts chapter 2 as most with suggest today? Was God working with a nation Israel until that Jewish feast day of Pentecost? Which time he began working in a brand-new way; with a brand-new group of people; the present-day church? You see much hinges on a proper understanding of the book of acts, a book I believe is perhaps the most misunderstood of Bible books today. There are at least four scriptural proofs that God’s plan with Israel, from a national standpoint, was still in operation in acts chapter 2. In fact Peter offers the kingdom to Israel, a literal physical kingdom, if that nation will simply repent in acts chapter 3, and that’s after acts chapter 2, as we can see. The focus remains Israel nationally; Israel as a nation, it remained that in acts chapter 2. The issue is still the land, all the way up until the stoning of Stephen, when we see something changed. The issue is still the promise to Israel of an earthly land and earthly kingdom to be set up in that land. That was the issue all through the early chapters of the book of acts. Now if we understand the chastisements that are sitting in Leviticus 26; four sets of chastisement. If we understand those chastisement in connection with the 70 weeks of years revealed by God to the prophet Daniel, in connection with the remaining time period of those chastisement. If we couple those two things with the parable of the fig tree in Luke 13, and we look at Paul statement in
1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Then you know that the beginning of the church, which is Christ’s body, began with the conversion of the man named Saul, when he encountered the ascended Christ on the road to Damascus. Now some folks would say it did not begin until Paul was called out, and separated in acts 13 for his Gentile ministry. Makes no difference to me which you take. I’ve no problem with either one, good cases and good points can be made about both positions. The question we’ve been examining is this; why do we see water baptism still being practiced after Saul’s conversion in acts chapter 9, especially when it one time, for the nation Israel, was for the remission of their sins. It was not a testimony. Why do we see Paul honoring Jewish feast days throughout the Acts period? Why do we see Paul continue to quote the law throughout the book of acts? Why do we see him going into the Jewish synagogues? Does the position suggesting the church called the body of Christ, began after, or at least at acts 28, have any merit? I think we’ll see it is not, as we dig into this marvelous book which covers Paul’s ministry during the period of some 30 years! Understand the book of acts isn’t just a book written about a a short time period. It’s the period that covers some 30 years in Paul’s epistles and many of those epistles were written during that acts period!
Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
Remember Ananias was being sent to Saul, the one who would be the person introducing the age of grace. We know that Saul at that point in time was persecuting kingdom saints, so Ananias is dealing with a little dread here. He’s fearing this man, he knows Saul’s reputation, he knows Saul is responsible for having kingdom saints, the saints of that earthly kingdom program, killed, put in prison and beat. In a sense, Ananias is arguing with the Lord at this point, maybe he’ll change his mind, hoping to give Ananias a past. Watch Ananias continue to make his case.
Acts 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
The Lord is not about to to back away from the plan that he has for Paul.
Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
If you think about it, the Kings must fit in one or two of the other two categories; Gentiles or Jews. They were either Gentiles, Jews or proselytes to Judaism, so we don’t really want to concentrate on the Kings right at this point. We’re really looking at only two groups basically; Jews and Gentiles or proselytes to Judaism. Paul’s ministry during the acts period pertains to these two groups of people, and yes his ministry is always in connection with the body of Christ. How do we know that? Because the program pertaining to Israel from a national standpoint, the bride of Christ program, has been placed on the shelf. Her one-year extension, according to Daniel’s prophecy and the Luke 13 parable, has run it’s course and has come to a close.
Let’s look again at the two groups; jews and gentiles.
Everywhere Paul went, who did he visit first? The jews, and proselytes to Judaism who would’ve been with those Jews. Paul conducted three apostolic journeys after which he was sent to Rome, and his ministry was winding towards a conclusion, and in each area Paul visited (three different areas of the globe), he went to unbelieving Jews and proselytes to Judaism first. We’re going to examine the areas Paul visited and in the process we’re going to see God’s proof of the Jewish rejection of the apostle of grace. Now remember also when we talk about the Jews, don’t forget those Gentiles who were proselytes to Judaism. They are included in the Jewish group, and they were indeed taking hold of the covenant adopting for themselves the customs that belong to the Jewish folks.
Group 1: Unbelieving Jews, not kingdom saints. Paul never went to kingdom saints to convert them into body of Christ saints. He never laid his foundation were another foundation had been laid. Remember Paul’s statement;
1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
So Paul did not go to kingdom believers, trying to convert them into body of Christ saints. He always went to unbelieving Jews and proselytes to Judaism; these were extremely religious people, unsaved.
Group 2: Unbelieving Gentiles. What makes group number one unique? Think about it for just a moment. Remember these folks had begun under the law program, that’s where they had their entrance. When Paul went to Jerusalem to communicate that gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, do you remember the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council? First of all, do you remember the issue when Paul went to Jerusalem to communicate that gospel, if not let me bring you up to speed on some of these things. There were those who had come into the Galatian assembly, who were telling Paul’s Gentile converts that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved. That had been a part of the Jewish program, it had been an extremely important part of the Jewish program.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Circumcision was an extremely important issue, for the folks associated with the promise of that land they were to get, but was it a necessity for salvation for the Gentiles? Well, for the Gentile proselytes to Judaism, it would’ve been a necessity. Was it a necessity for salvation when it came to Cornelius, the uncircumcised Gentile proselyte to Judaism (albeit a half proselyte; a proselyte at the gate)? No, it was not necessary at all. We know that. God was working in an entirely different way and Peter was given to see that God was doing something brand-new. Let’s look at the conclusion arrived at by the members of the Jerusalem Council, concerning Gentiles and the issue of circumcision. James is delivering the sentence here in Acts 15:
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Things that would directly affect the Jewish folks. Now imagine Paul, as he preaches to a group comprised of Jewish and Gentile converts during the act perod, because that’s precisely what he did. He went to the Jews and Jewish proselytes first. Many rejected him, some accepted his message, he then went to the Gentiles and then came the assemblies of that time. Now Paul’s addressing assemblies, and especially in his letters written during the act period, comprised of both Jews, Jewish proselytes and Gentiles, who have heard his gospel, come to Christ under his gospel and come to understand what Christ did for them under Paul’s gospel. Now they’re celebrating together in an assembly, and Paul has to tell these folks not only how to get along with one another, and how they have a relationship with one another, but what God is doing with both groups, both groups in the same assembly. He has to tell them that keeping religious ceremonies cannot save them. He has to tell them that honoring the Jewish feast days cannot save anyone. He has to tell the Gentile Gentile converts that are among them, not to believe anyone who tries to place them under any such requirements. That would include circumcision, it was never given to those folks. Why? They had not been under any of those requirements in the first place. Could or should a Jewish man who had begun in the program for the land, who had already been circumcised and now become a part of the body of Christ, because he believes Paul’s gospel, reverse his circumcision if that were a possibility? Corinth was a fellowship comprised of circumcised Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles. The Jews among them were devout when it came to those customs that they were put under, the Gentiles not at all. Notice Paul’s words to these folks and how he’s writing to both groups:
1 Corinthians 7:18-19
18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Were some of those folks keeping the commandments of God? You bet they were, and it’s not that they were not to keep those commandments. They were body of Christ saints, those commandments simply could not save them.
1 Corinthians 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
Paul is talking to both groups and he’s telling them “let every man abide in the calling to which he’s been called”, so Paul is speaking to believers; body of Christ believers, in Corinth. He’s telling one group abide in the calling to which you’ve been called; concerning the circumcision and I believe it goes beyond circumcision. I believe it goes to the customs of the Jews. Would circumcision save? Absolutely not, no way whatsoever. Would Paul try to reverse the customs of the fathers, for those who had been associated with those customs? Again, in no way would the apostle do that. Nearing the end of Paul’s ministry he returned to Jerusalem, and he met with James;
20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
This meeting with James really didn’t end this dispute that the Jews had with the apostle Paul, sort of like telling people today if you preach grace, you’re going to give people a license to sin. This was the same thing here, now they’re accusing Paul of teaching the Jewish folks in that Corinthian assembly, not to circumcise their children. If you know the rest of the story you know that Paul would ultimately be imprisoned in Rome, but I want you to notice the interesting thing that Paul does when he first arrives in Rome, and this issue is what began Paul’s going to Rome.
Acts 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
The question is; did Paul tell any unbelieving Jew or proselytes to Judaism, did he tell any member of the body of Christ within his assemblies (whether they be Jews or proselytes to Judaism), did he tell any kingdom saint, for that matter, to stop honoring the Jewish customs? Had that ever taken place with the apostle Paul?
Acts 28:17 And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Paul never reversed the customs of those who had been born under that program; the program of which those customs had been a part. While he never placed his Gentile converts under those customs, he never tried to remove those customs from the people who have been practicing them as part of the Jewish religion they had been adherence to. Why not? Because the consciences of those folks was intricately linked to the customs under which they been placed. What did Paul tell the saints at Corinth who thought that eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols, was an evil practice?
1 Corinthians 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
Paul could say the same thing about obeying the law, obedience to the Jewish customs or attending Jewish feast days…
1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
Was conscience important to the apostle Paul? I think you can see it was. Notice Paul’s words in acts 23, after he had been accused of teaching his Jewish converts, not to keep the customs of the Jewish program under which those folks had been born He is speaking to the Jewish Sanhedrin here folks.
Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
In other words, I’m continually exercising myself to have always a conscience void of offense, toward God and toward men. Paul never wanted any man to go against his conscience. That being said, Paul never permitted any Jewish custom for the purpose of gaining favor with God much less salvation through the exercise of that custom. If a Jewish Scripture told the Jews to do something, Paul didn’t offend their consciences by telling them not to do it. It had never been taken away from them. Even though they were his converts, new members of the body of Christ and their righteousness before God would be dependent upon none of those things. You see the need for the letter of Corinthians, why the two letters and why the letter to the Galatians, why the necessity of telling these people what was going on and how it was going on? Paul would never have even told a Gentile convert to offend the Jewish conscience, in my opinion, I don’t see that. So the first group to whom Paul preached in every area he visited during the acts period, was Jews and proselytes to Judaism. This is why you see baptisms taking place during the acts period. Even though you never see Paul conducting those baptismal rites and when he did, he has to tell you who it was he baptized. Very few and for very good reason. He does tell us he baptized some. Only two individuals and members of one household, and as I said very good reason is given there for that, and that’s over a period of 30 some years folks. Conscience could certainly have have been an issue there, but it goes beyond that as we’ve just seen the acts 28 period. Not only did God not want Paul to offend another person’s conscience, God having foreknowledge knew that Paul would one day be standing before kings and Jewish unbelievers, who would be accusing Paul of teaching contrary to the law of Moses. God knew that Paul would be able to defend against those charges, as we saw him do in acts 20 and 28. If they were going to reject God, if they were going to reject Jesus Christ through the apostle Paul, God was not going to allow it to be for the reason that Paul had taught against the law of Moses. If they were going to reject Jesus Christ was going to be because of the rejection of Jesus Christ, not because Paul taught against the law of Moses. Paul used the law he said, but he used the law lawfully. Paul honored the Jewish feast days. Paul baptized on very rare occasion, but never did Paul use the law or oblige anyone else to use it, including the practice of any Jewish custom or previous Jewish program requirement, for the purpose of gaining a righteous standing before God through the performing of it. That wasn’t the apostle Paul and as far as injuring another’s conscience goes notice;
Acts 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him [Why? Because Timothy would have to adhere to that custom?!] because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
Knowing that, they knew they knew he had been circumcised, very likely had not been circumcised. His mother was a Jewess, but his father was a Greek. Helen here, not a Greek speaking Jew, but a Greek by nationality. Did Paul do this in order to accomplish Timothy’s salvation? Did he do it to gain Timothy an additional measure of righteousness in the eyes of Almighty God? He did it in order not to offend the Jewish conscience. Of course we know that if someone insisted on a Jewish practice for the purpose of gaining righteousness before God, or earning salvation or even gaining favor with God, Paul would’ve resisted with everything he had, and the apostle Paul did so. When it came to the circumcision of Titus, who was a Gentile, when Paul went to speak before the Jerusalem Council to communicate under them that gospel, which he preached among the Gentiles, the question was circumcision for salvation. A statement had to be made, and Paul wanted that statement to be made.
Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
Galatians 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
The issue wasn’t conscience here, the issue was circumcision for salvation.
Galatians 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
Paul never taught circumcision or any other Jewish practice for salvation.
We see that Paul would not allow Titus, and Titus wouldn’t accept being circumcised, so it wasn’t for the issue of injuring their consciences at the Jerusalem Council
Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Galatians 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
What we have to understand about the book of Acts, is that Paul was trying to reach individual Jews and Gentiles, and the Jews were associated with those customs. The Jews had been God’s favored nation, the Jews were Paul’s kinsman after the flesh, he desired greatly to reach these folk. Paul himself was Jewish and it was the Jewish religious leadership that had the Jews dispersed in the first place, so Paul always went to Jews first and God intended him to do so. Not only would unbelieving Jews be given an opportunity to believe through grace, God would also prove through the acts account that for the most part the Jews would remain in unbelief. The book of acts is God’s everlasting account validating the partial blindness that had come upon that nation.
We want to look at Paul’s visit to the Jews during the acts account, and we want to watch God validate having set Israel aside nationally with the stoning of Stephen, while he now completes his program and plan for the body of Christ. Paul began the first of his apostolic journeys with the pronouncement of blindness on Barjesus. Paul was on his way to Asia, that was the area he would first visit, when he ran across what Scripture calls a false prophet, a Jew, so this is not a believing Jew, this is an unbelieving Jew. God could not give us a more clear picture of the blindness Paul tells us in the book of Romans that happened to Israel nationally. This is a picture of it.
Acts 13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Now we are going to see God, through Paul’s acts ministry, validate the blindness upon unbelieving Jews as Paul goes to the Jews first, in every area he visits. This is area number one. From Pathos in Cyprus Paul sets sail for Asia, again this is his first apostolic journey, he enters Antioch and Pisidia, where he visits the Jewish synagogue:
Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Great news to these unbelieving Jews, wouldn’t you say? At least it should’ve been the greatest news they would ever hear, but here is the warning given in light of the fact that Israel nationally had already been set aside in blindness:
Acts 13:40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Acts 13:41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
That’s precisely what had already come upon Israel nationally, earlier on. Would the Gentiles be interested in Paul’s message?
Acts 13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
Sounds like the Gentiles were extremely interested in what Paul has to say to these Jews. Of course were the Gentiles not supposed to be coming to Israel to learn about God? They were! Were they not supposed to be coming through Israel’s rise as prophecy had proclaimed? Sure, they were, but Israel had not risen! Israel had fallen. Israel had been blinded in part.
Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Acts 13:44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
Does it sound like everything is wonderful up to this point? Sounds pretty good to me, sounds like Paul should have great success, everything is going wonderfully so far. Gentiles are extremely interested. Paul’s continuing to try to persuade the Jews to stay with that message he’s preaching, but trouble is brewing in Antioch city. Starts with t, rhymes with p, stands for Paul. Notice the tempest in the teapot that is brewing here:
Acts 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
Were the Jews embracing Paul’s message? I think it is very easy to see they were not, and they were not embracing Paul either. Paul had gone to the Jews of Asia first, that was his intent, I believe that’s what he was instructed to do, and they didn’t like him or his message. They were envious of the attention the apostle Paul was getting, and that envy had led to a rejection of not only Paul, but of Paul’s message. That’s a profound truth to understand; that envy will lead to a rejection of not only you but your message. While some believe Paul’s message, the vast majority rejected it; a validation of why God had set Israel aside nationally in the first place, and why God had called this new apostle who would be sent to the Gentiles. Paul was free at this point in time. He had spoken to the Jews of Asia and they had rejected, he’s now free to encounter Gentiles in Asia separately, separate from the Jews. God called out this new apostle in order to complete his plan and program through the Gentiles, and he did it through an apostle of grace. Here is Paul’s response to the Jewish rejection of his message in Asia:
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Did Paul turn to the Gentiles in Asia at this point? You bet he did, because he had already gone to the Jews first in Asia before he went to anyone else. He held their unbelief up in front of them and he said “now I’m free to go to the Gentiles in Asia” and he did so. The rejection Paul and Barnabas faced here wasn’t about to get any better:
Acts 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
Acts 13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
Did they want Paul or his message? They didn’t… Paul was certainly free to go to the Gentiles with his message of grace. That is precisely what Paul began to do because now he was free to do that in Asia. The Jews were proving themselves blind, perhaps it would go better for Paul at Iconium; Paul’s next stop in Asia.
Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they [Paul and Barnabas] went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
It looks better in Iconium, does it not? This looks much better than where he was, again things are looking up, at least so far they are, but is there trouble brewing in Iconium?
Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
Unbelieving Jews stirring up trouble all over again, and that trouble starts with T rhymes with P, stands for Paul.
Acts 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Signs for the folks of that nation that God had dealt with according to signs, isn’t that interesting? Would those signs do the trick when it came to these Jews of the dispersion?
Acts 14:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
So now we’ve got a teeter totter effect going on, this is a see-saw here. Which way will it go? Will go up or will it go down?
Acts 14:5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
Are they rejecting the Apostle of grace? You bet they are!
Acts 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
Acts 14:7 And there they preached the gospel.
Guess one of “the regions that lieth round about” Lystra and Lycaonia? Galatia!
Paul had already proven blindness when it came to the Jews in Asia, and rest assured he was indeed going to Gentiles as he was going to the regions that lieth round about Lycaonia. The assembly of Galatia was established during this time, and Paul had met young Timothy, his mother and his grandmother on this journey. It was by way of Paul’s ministry that Timothy came to faith in Christ, and the all sufficiency of the cross work of Jesus Christ, but as we stay with the story in acts 14, we find Paul healing a man in Lystra. The man that was impotent in his feet, he had been a cripple from his mother’s womb. With that healing, the people of that area thought the apostle Paul and Barnabas were Gods. ‘If they can do this, these guys are gods’. They couldn’t contain themselves they wanted to worship at the feet of Paul and Barnabas, because the feelings that had taken place. Seems like Paul should’ve been able to make great progress with his message of grace to these folks, wouldn’t it? If you were being worshiped as a god, don’t you think you would get your message across to those worshiping you as a god?
Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing [deeming, judging, fully believing] he had been dead.
Aren’t these people at Iconium supposed to be coming through Israel’s rise? She had fallen! She had not risen, she had already fallen. Paul had already pronounced blindness before he really got underway on this journey, and it’s simply being proven to us folks; no one’s coming through the Jews, that’s not happening.
Paul relates the same account in;
2 Corinthians 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
The unbelieving Jews were not happy campers, no matter where Paul went. When it came to Paul, they didn’t want him or his message. God is indeed validating the blindness that he had brought upon that nation nationally, with the salvation of Saul, and that Paul had declared with the blindness brought upon Barjesus. Here they’ve stoned the apostle Paul. He’s approaching the latter portion of this first journey to Asia. How many listening today would want to continue on if the same thing would happen to you? You moved into a town, and some folks said “we want to hear you out, we would like to hear what you have. Let’s meet at the community center next week” and you meet at the community center and these folks are really interested. Their ears are wide open and they’re listening, and in through the door comes some folks from the first, or second or third of whatever and they say, ‘no you’re preaching heresy, you’re preaching damnable heresy, let’s stone you to death’. Would you want to continue? Paul did! He’d make three additional journeys, if we include the Rome trip!
Paul established grace assemblies during this trip to Asia, without question, and he would later write epistles, he’d write the epistle to the saints in Galatia after this. Whereby the Jews of that fellowship along with the Gentiles who would come in (they did not have those customs, the Jews did), could grow together in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can imagine the difficulties these two groups would face both attending the same assembly, having believed Paul’s message. Jewish believers and converts to Paul’s gospel, previous unbelieving Jews, who were devoutly religious; hanging onto those customs and Gentiles who did not have those customs in the first place. Now, you can see why in Corinth Paul wrote back and said “you tell me you’re honoring the Lord’s table”, which to those folks would’ve been the feast of Passover. Nothing wrong with them doing that. And why he would say “no this isn’t the feast that you’re honoring, you’re doing something else altogether” and why Paul could turn around and say “let us keep the feast”, because the Jews were not to have their consciences injured. They were supposed to do those things, they were told they would be everlasting for them, and they were indeed doing those things. Those folks who’ve been born under that law and who would held on those customs, the customs were not removed for those folks, and God knew they would not be. Paul would be able to stand before unbelieving, condemning Jews and Kings and say ‘I’ve never taught anything contrary to the Law of Moses’. Paul taught those folks that they could not gain their righteousness from doing those things. Had God ever told the Jews that they could indeed gain their righteousness and would do so? He gave the Law to prove that they could not do so, and told them through the prophets that they were not doing so. Paul had a dilemma in dealing with both groups, and in their minds breaking down the middle wall of partition between them so they could understand their unity; their oneness in the body of Christ. I think you can see why the Gentiles would’ve been distressed when certain men from Judea came down, teaching that circumcision was now necessary for salvation. Paul went to Jerusalem; the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), and then the Galatian letter would be coming a little later on to these Saints at Galatia. The Jews of the Council sent chief men from their group with Paul, to validate they were not putting any of these things on the Gentiles. No mention of “now take them off of the Jews to” only “don’t put these things on the Gentiles”. Understand again you got two groups of grace believers. This is all going on in the same book of acts. Jews and those who had been proselytes to Judaism, with those folks still honoring the practices to which they become accustomed, and Gentiles who had never been a part of those customs in the first place. This brings us to Paul’s second apostolic journey. Paul is going to visit Greece on this trip, but he has no idea at this time he’s going to Greece. While he’s in Asia who does he pick up? Timothy! It was at this time, by the way, that Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews that were in those quarters. We’re told that the churches Paul had established; the assemblies on his first journey, were increasing in number during this time. It’s an interesting thing to note here that as Paul gets underway, the Holy Spirit forbids him to preach in Asia. He had already proclaimed the Jews in blindness in Asia. Does God want him to proclaim the Jews in another area of the world in blindness? Yes, so the Holy Spirit has another area in mind for Paul to go. He doesn’t doesn’t allow Paul to preach in Asia during the second trip. Not yet.
Acts 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
Acts 16:8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
They’re on the far western coast of Asia. Paul wants to preach the message of grace, but the Holy Spirit won’t permit it.
Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
So Paul and Timothy depart for Macedonia.
Acts 16:12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
Acts 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
What would be the Sabbath for the Jews? Friday evening to Saturday evening. Evidently a very religious place for the unbelieving, religious Jews. We have proselytes to Judaism, albeit they’re women proselytes, which is evident in the very next verse:
Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
How did the Lord open her heart? Did he reach in and mystically magically play a string that had never been played before? Did he supernaturally push a button and cause Lydia to believe the message? He did it through the gospel that Paul was preaching to her.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Lydia believed Paul’s gospel. It was the gospel message itself that had intrigued this lady named Lydia. Obviously envy and pride had not been an obstruction in her case, as it had been with the majority of the Jewish folks. Lydia had been a proselytes to Judaism, so we should expect to see something connected to Judaism come into the picture here, and that’s precisely what we see:
Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Was she a Gentile or a Jewish proselyte? A Jewish proselyte. What was told the Jews in Leviticus chapter 26:40?
Leviticus 26:40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
If they confessed their sins, God would remember the covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That confession was called for, according to the layout and timing of Leviticus 26, when John came upon the scene; offering Israel the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. We know that wasn’t necessary for sin remission. We saw that with Cornelius, but here she’s baptized, you don’t see him mention ‘for the remission of sins’ there do you? And you will not again in the book of acts.
Did Paul baptize Lydia and her household? No! If he had, would she not have been mentioned back when he told us who he did baptize?
1 Corinthians 1:14-17
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Someone else did the baptizing; he was with Paul. Luke? Timothy? Silas? We do know Silas was with him on this occasion. Why? Because we’re going to see them cast into prison. So who would’ve done the baptizing? Silas? He was one of the Jewish elders present at the Jerusalem Council, according to acts 15:22:
Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
Silas was either a Jew or a proselyte to Judaism, it really makes no difference.
There’s no mention whatsoever for the remission of sins in connection with his baptism, but it would certainly have been the response of a clear conscience for a Jew, in the presence of Lydia, to baptize her. Was Silas present, and did Paul conduct the baptismal service according to his list of those he baptized? You don’t see Lydia mentioned there at all. You don’t see Paul conducting any baptism service, but Paul would later be able to stand in front of Kings and say ‘I never taught contrary to the customs of the Jews or their fathers or the law of Moses for that matter’. So we can see something taking place here in relation to the body of Christ, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the remission of sins, as we saw in the case of Cornelius in acts 10. It was during the same time period, in Paul’s second journey, that the assemblies in Philippi were established and we see their letters coming later on, at the time of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.
Always Jews or Jewish proselytes first, never going against their customs, and then gentiles. Both becoming members of the body of Christ; the new church Paul was establishing.
Thank you for joining with us in your endeavor to discover the truths in God’s Word. Pastor and teacher Curt Crist and the entire fellowship of Welcome to Grace Ministries, would like to thank you for your support of this ministry of Grace. If you’re enjoying the teachings and want to share with others, please write us at: Welcome to Grace Ministries, P.O. Box 90, Penrose, North Carolina 28766. You may call us toll free at 877-770-7098 or visit us on the web at http://www.welcometograce.com. Again, thank you for joining us, and we look forward to hearing from you.