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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Who Were Scattered Abroad?

Scattered Abroad - 1

from Google Images

We now come to Acts 8 when Luke tells us that the believers were scattered abroad due to a great persecution that arose over the death of Stephen. Saul, who is later called Paul of Tarsus, was among the leaders of that persecution (Acts 8:1, 3; cp. Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:6). Strangely enough, Luke tells us that the Apostles didn’t have to leave Jerusalem over the sudden change in the political climate (Acts 8:1). Why would that be, and who had to leave or suffer the consequences, which included loss of life for the unrepentant? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Great Persecution

Persecution -- scattering

from Google Images

I think we often read past Acts 8:1-4 just to get to Philip’s ministry to Samaria and the Ethiopian eunuch. Nevertheless, these four verses tell us a great deal, and are pretty much continued at Acts 11:19. It seems Luke placed Philip’s ministry to Samaria and the Ethiopian plus Saul’s conversion plus Peter’s going to the Roman centurion and his household right in the middle of this persecution, or to but it another way: between Acts 8:4 and Acts 11:19. It serves as a kind of parenthesis within the persecution and its information helps us to forget what is really taking place. Believers are dying for their faith. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The First to Die for Christ

Stephen's Death

from Google Images

Stephen’s death (Acts 7:51-60) is probably the most significant chapter in the life of the Church since Pentecost. He is the first believer whose blood was shed in Jesus’ name, and I don’t believe its significance is fully appreciated in the Church today. It may come as a surprise to know that he was probably stoned on the Day of Atonement 3 ½ years after Jesus’ crucifixion and comes at the culmination of the second half of the 70th week of Daniels 70 Weeks Prophecy. The first half of that week incorporated Jesus’ public ministry which ended in his crucifixion in the “midst of the week” (cp. Daniel 9:26-27). Both halves equal 7 years or the 70th Week beginning on the Feast of Trumpets in 27 AD and ending on the Day of Atonement or 10th day of the seventh month in 34 AD. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Tenth Temptation of God

Tempting God - 2

from Google Images

Whether or not Stephen was concluding his address to the Sanhedrin is not specifically stated in the text. However, it seems by the time he stated that the Most High doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands, quoting Isaiah the prophet, Stephen seems to react to something the crowd said or did, because in Acts 7:51 he complains his audience is reacting just as their fathers had in the past. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Tent of Witness

Tent of Witness

from Google Images

Without a doubt Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin is the most important event concerning the community of believers since Pentecost in Acts 2. Luke devotes more space to what Stephen says than any address spoken by either Peter or Paul in the Book of Acts. It stands out as a defining point for the Church. From this point on the Gospel will go to the nations. From this point on, less and less emphasis is placed upon Jerusalem as the center of the faith. It is almost as though God dwelt there in Jerusalem until blood began to be shed, after which he led his people out—not quite true, but the principle that showed the presence of God was not in a specific place, but wherever his people happened to be is defined here with Stephen’s words: “The Most High dwells not in Temples made with hands!” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Prophet Like Moses and Worship

Moses - worship

from Google Images

Remember that Stephen was accused of blasphemy against Moses (or the Law) and against the Temple (Acts 6:13-14). In the last four blogs I’ve shown how Stephen addressed the first accusation. By and large the fathers had rejected both Moses and Joseph and had no faith in God as their father, Abraham had. Their eyes were always upon the past, traditions, where they had been (e.g. in Egypt etc.) and had no vision for the future (promises to be fulfilled). The five books of Moses are what make up the Law (Torah), so blasphemy against either (Moses/Torah) is blasphemy against the other. Not only did Stephen show a reverence toward Moses, but implied the Prophet who was like him (Acts 7:37) fulfilled Moses’ experiences to the letter, i.e. he fulfilled the Law and was rejected and crucified in doing so. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Prophet Like Moses ~ Savior

Moses - Savior

from Google Images

As we go through Acts 7, I am emphasizing parts of Stephen’s address before the Sanhedrin, hoping to show how the young Messianic leader put forth not only his defense but that of the Gospel as well. Throughout Stephen’s address he points to Israel’s history—a solidified revelation of how God has interpreted himself and his relationship with mankind in such a manner that God’s people’s eyes were always directed toward the future. It was a history of faith and expectation. The problem in Stephen’s day was the Jewish authorities wrongly defined their present service to God with the past. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Prophet Like Moses ~ His Rejection

Moses - rejected

from Google Images

Luke, in the person of Stephen, uses four periods in Moses life, beginning with his birth and then separated by 40 years each, to show a correlation between Moses and the Prophet who would be like him (Jesus), and subsequent parallels in the lives of those who would be like Jesus. What happened to Moses reoccurred in Jesus’ life under different circumstances, and, perhaps unexpectedly, we find what happened to Jesus, the Christ (Messiah), also occurred in the “life” of the Body of Christ—the believing community—and this is Stephen’s defense, Moses’ life is Stephen’s vindication and the vindication of the Gospel Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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The Prophet Like Moses ~ His Coming

Moses - birth

from Google Images

In chapter seven of Acts Stephen’s defense of the Gospel, which ultimately included proof of his own innocence of the charges of blasphemy brought against him, was presented in the form of a summary of the history of salvation in the persons of Abraham, Joseph and Moses. In a previous blog I wrote of his illustrations of Jesus and the infancy of the Church in the lives of Abraham and Joseph, but by far the main body of Stephen’s testimony lay in his illustration of Moses’ life. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Kingdom of God

 

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