Monthly Archives: October 2012

How Did Saul Become Paul?

For the first time Luke refers to Saul by the name Paul in Acts 13:9, and most commentaries believe that Christianity’s great evangelist was given the name Paul at birth and answered to his Roman citizenship, but Saul was given as his Hebrew name. However, this is not necessarily so. Paul’s birth names may not have even come down to us. It is unlikely that a Jew born in Tarsus was given a Hebrew name. In fact, according to Richard Fellows (HERE), archeologists have not uncovered one Hebrew name in Tarsus! Most likely Paul was given the name Saul when he began his studies in Jerusalem as a young lad. Read the rest of this entry »


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Who Was Elymas—Bar Jesus? ~ Part 2

In a previous blog (HERE), I addressed the idea that Elymas, Bar Jesus, was associated in some way with the believing community. He either considered himself to be a Messianic Jew or was considered to be a disciple of Jesus by the believing community. Luke identified him as a false prophet (Acts 13:6), so he was probably not a true disciple of Jesus but was considered a disciple by many in the believing community. The conclusions I have drawn in these last few posts are the result of my reading and agreeing with Dr. Rick Strelan in his scholarly thesis (HERE) that Bar Jesus was considered to be a true disciple of Jesus before his encounter with Saul on Cyprus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 28, 2012 in Paul and Barnabas, Paul First Missionary Journey


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Who Was Elymas—Bar Jesus? ~ Part 1

For quite some time I had been looking for a better explanation of what occurred on Cyprus when Barnabas and Saul came there to evangelize the island in the name of Jesus. After all, it is here where Saul changed his name to Paul, and it is here where Mark seems to get upset and leaves the group after they leave the island. Luke is conspicuously silent over the reasons for these seemingly important issues. He states what occurred without commentary and leaves the reader to figure things out through the wording he uses and his placement of the events. Read the rest of this entry »


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Why Did the Outreach Begin in Cyprus?

When the Holy Spirit set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work he had planned for them, it is almost a double-take to find them first preaching in Cyprus. What? Wasn’t Antioch evangelized by believers who had come from Cyprus and Cyrene? Why would the Holy Spirit have the team begin here, especially when Paul says later that he desired to preach only where Christ was not yet named (cp. Romans 15:20)? Other questions that come to mind are why does Saul change his name to Paul during the team’s evangelistic outreach in Cyprus? Why did Mark leave after the team evangelized the island, and, finally, why does it seem like Luke shows Paul became the leader of the team (Acts 13:13) at this point? Is that a correct assumption, since in Acts 13:1 Paul is not only listed behind Barnabas, but fifth, behind Simeon (called Niger), Lucius of Cyrene and Manaen? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Paul First Missionary Journey


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The Gospel Goes Out From Antioch

Formerly the Gospel was always seen in Acts as going out from Jerusalem, but from chapter 13 and onward, Luke has it going out from Antioch, and he is silent about Jerusalem’s activities. Antioch was the third largest city in the Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria. As in every major city of the Empire, Antioch was the home of a large Jewish colony, which attracted many gentile God-fearers and proselytes. It was here in Antioch that the first predominantly Christian church arose, and it was here where we were first called Christian. Luke tells us now of how Antioch began to send out emissaries with the Good News outward to Cyprus, Asia Minor and eventually to Europe. The new age of God’s rule extending to the uttermost parts of the earth began to take shape at this time and from this city. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Gospel, Paul First Missionary Journey


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Barnabas ~ Whom Jesus Loved


from Google Images

Barnabas is a nickname given by the Apostles to a Levite named Joseph of the country of Cyprus (Acts 4:36), who had resettled in Judea. Joseph, called Barnabas, is also the brother of Mary, the mother of John Mark (cf. Colossians 4:10 and Acts 12:12). I have identified Mary, the mother of Mark, as Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus HERE. Therefore, if that study is true, Lazarus is probably Joseph, whom the Apostles called Barnabas. This should become clearer as one goes further into this study. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Acts of the Apostles, Barnabas


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Who Are These People?

Luke records for us in Acts 13:1 the names of five church leaders at Antioch, saying: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” Who are these people? Luke simply mentions their names. We know a little about Barnabas, but I’ll deal with him at length in another blog. We know who Saul is, and I have already written about Lucius of Cyrene HERE, but who are Simeon, called Niger, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch? Can we know? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Gospel, New Testament History


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The Death of Agrippa

It is interesting as we come to the end of Acts 12 that Herod should die at the hand of God. Josephus, who never puts Agrippa in a bad light, seems to agree, in that Herod, himself, sees an owl as an omen from God announcing his death [Josephus: Antiquities 19.8.2]. Therefore, although put in different words, Josephus and Luke agree that God killed Herod, because he accepted without rebuke the praise of the people saying he was a god! Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Agrippa, Persecution


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Agrippa Abode in Caesarea

According to Josephus, the Jewish historian in the 1st century CE, Herod Agrippa of Acts 12 “loved to live continually at Jerusalem” and each day offered the prescribed sacrifice of Israel’s king [Josephus: Antiquities 19.7.3]. If this is true, then his leaving for Caesarea should be taken as an indication of his embarrassment over Peter’s escape (cp. Acts 12:19). Certainly, it should be understood that Agrippa would leave Jerusalem from time to time to conduct civil business that needed personal attention that was impossible to accommodate from Jerusalem, but Josephus says his normal abode was in Jerusalem. Yet, Luke claims that Agrippa left Jerusalem and abode in Caesarea (Acts 12:19). Josephus says this occurred when Agrippa was three years into his reign over Jerusalem [Antiquities 19.8.2]. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Agrippa, Persecution


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Mary, the Mother of Mark

Upper Room - 1

from Google Images

As soon as Peter understood that he was not having a vision but was actually delivered from Herod’s sword (Acts 12:11), he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12)! Something we should notice, and it can be disconcerting, is that the Gospel writers, including Luke’s work in Acts, simply mention a name, often without any other detail that would help us identify the person named. Who is Mary, the mother of Mark, and why would she be so important that her home is  Peter’s first choice to visit, before he flees Jerusalem?  This particular Mary has Peter’s trust to tell James, the Lord’s brother, and anyone else that needed to know Peter’s whereabouts (Acts 12:13-17)? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Kingdom of God, Persecution


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Herod’s Official Story about Peter?

Peter's Escape

from Google Images

After the death of James, Agrippa turned his attention toward Peter (Acts 12:3), the apparent leader of the Messianic movement in Jerusalem. Luke tells us that Agrippa realized that “the Jews” (read the powerful Annas family) were pleased with what he had done with John’s brother, James (Acts 12:1-3), and, being the man-pleaser that he was (see Antiquities 19.7.3),  Agrippa then made it his business to vex the Church of God and seized Peter, intending to execute him after the Passover feast days (Acts 12:3). Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Herod Agrippa, Persecution


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Persecution Renewed Under Agrippa

Herod Agrippa, the father of King Agrippa of Acts 25 and 26, is mentioned by Luke as beginning the second phase of the official Jerusalem persecution against believing Jews. Claudius Caesar had made him king over all the lands of his grandfather, Herod the Great, in order to calm the unrest in Rome’s eastern frontier province of Syria, which included Judea. Caligula had recently brought Rome and Jerusalem to the brink of war, so the new emperor wanted to smooth over Rome’s relations with the Jews and did so by making Agrippa king of the Jews. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Agrippa, Persecution


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Famine-Relief from Antioch

Just before the reign of Claudius Caesar, possibly in the fall of 40 CE or more probably in the early spring of 41 CE, a Jewish prophet, Agabus, foretold through the Spirit that a great shortage of food would occur throughout the Empire. According to the prophecy this shortage would be particularly severe for the poor in Judea (Acts 11:28-20).[1] Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in circumcision, famine


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They Called Us Christian at Antioch

Personally, I don’t like to refer to believers as Christian before Acts 11:19-30, because until that time there were no Christians per se. We referred to ourselves as followers of the Way (Christ—cp. John 14:6), and up until Antioch most believers were either Jewish or Jewish proselytes No doubt Paul was preaching to both Jews and gentiles in Syria-Cilicia where his hometown of Tarsus was located, but no one was called Christian, until believers from Cyprus and Cyrene preached to gentiles in Antioch. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Christianity, Religion & Politics


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Cornelius Answers Jerusalem’s Big Problem!

Luke makes no attempt to smooth out the abrupt change of people and places in Acts 11:19. In the first eighteen verses Luke records Peter’s interrogation by critics in Jerusalem, and his defense before them concerning his activities in Acts 10. Then, suddenly and without notice, Peter vanishes from the scene and Luke begins writing about the Hellenist Messianics who fled Jerusalem during the persecution surrounding Stephen’s death. It seems Luke simply picks up the story of the fleeing brethren at Acts 8:4 and tells us what they did in the remaining verses of chapter eleven, as if he wrote nothing about Philip, Paul or Peter and Cornelius. Then just as abruptly, he leaves the Hellenist Messianics again to speak of Peter in Jerusalem. What gives? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in circumcision, Cornelius


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