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The Gospel Cannot Be Hindered

Luke ends his thesis in Acts 28:30-31, showing Paul in his rented house welcoming all—Jews or gentiles—who would come to him, and there he preached the Kingdom of God and those things that concerned the Lord, Jesus Christ, with no one forbidding him. Luke shows us that Paul did this for at least two years, and afterward nothing more is written about Paul or anything further about any of the acts of the Apostles. This, I believe, is meant to be the end of Luke’s thesis. It is not an accident than nothing further is written. Acts has a real ending, and it ends here. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Gospel, Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds

 

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Paul’s Triumphal Entry

It seems that Luke continues his theme of presenting the final acts of Paul in a similar fashion that he presented those of Jesus in Luke 19:29-40. Just as Jesus had a triumphal entry into the capital of Judea, so Paul, although he is a prisoner of Rome, is presented as having a triumphal journey to the capital of the world (Acts 28:14-16). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Gospel, Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds

 

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This Is Madness!

One of the most often used criticisms of Christianity today is that our trust in the validity of the Scriptures is a clear expression of our ignorance of reality. Anyone who is claims to be Christian and pursues a career in science is viewed with suspicion—after all isn’t a Christian scientist an oxymoron? Like jumbo-shrimp the two words simply don’t go together. Centuries ago nearly all the great universities of the west were run and financed by Christians, yet today we’re seen as a bunch of coneheads who are simply irrelevant when it comes to education or politics.[1] Perhaps it may come as a surprise that this attitude of being out of touch with reality can also be found in the 1st century CE among the movers and shakers of the times. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Gospel, Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds

 

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Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa

The king gave Paul permission to speak, and Paul raised his hand in salutation to Agrippa (Acts 26:1). The Greek expression is different here.[1] In both Acts 13:16 and in 21:40 the gesture was intended to invite silence, but here Paul meant to express respect to the king’s office. He began by admitting it was his (Paul’s) honor to discuss his case before Agrippa, whom, Paul claimed, was well aware of the traditions of the Jews, as well as those matters in which they vigorously debated among themselves (Acts 26:2-3). Thus, with the matter of his being accused of treason against Caesar taken out of the way by Festus (Acts 25:25, cp. 25:18-19), Paul framed his charges around that of Jewish tradition and theology. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds

 

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The Matter Set Before King Agrippa

King Agrippa, the son of Herod of Acts 12, came to Caesarea to with his sister, Bernice, of offer Festus his royal welcome to the east (Acts 25:13). The meeting occurred sometime in 59 CE either during the summer just after the Pentecost holy day or during the autumn just after Tabernacles, which includes several annual holy days.[1] Since Paul’s journey to Rome occurs some weeks after the fast (Acts 27:9 – i.e. the Day of Atonement), Agrippa’s visit probably occurred just after the autumn holy days, showing Festus spent the summer months in vain, wondering what to write to Caesar concerning Paul (cp. Acts 25:26). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2013 in Gospel, Paul in bonds

 

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Paul’s Defense—“I am a Jew!”

After Paul was seized and taken from the Temple compound, the gates of the Temple were shut, presumably to undergo purification rites over the assumption that a gentile had entered into the forbidden area beyond the great wall, which separated the court of the gentiles from the court of the Jews. Josephus tells us that a sign had been placed on the wall forbidding anyone of any other race to enter the inner Temple courts under pain of immediate execution.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Paul’s Defense before Believers

In what remains of what we know as Acts 20, Luke treats us with Paul’s final speech as a free man. Furthermore, it is his only speech in Acts that is given before only a believing audience. So, we can expect his words here to be of greater depth than what he is shown to have said before at the Athenian Areopagus in Acts 17, for example or even before the Jews of Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13. Here at Miletus, a prosperous coastal city on the eastern Aegean Sea, Paul summoned the elders of the Ephesian church (Acts 20:17), for he sailed past the port at Ephesus not wanting to delay his course to Jerusalem longer than was necessary (Acts 20:16). Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem’s Poor

Luke doesn’t mention the collection Paul made for the poor at Jerusalem, but this is understandable, since Luke’s addressee is Theophilus, Annas’ son and former officiating high priest at Jerusalem, because the Annas family had been mistreating the poor, especially the priests. They had sent men to rob them of their tithes, which some depended upon for life itself. The time is cir. spring of 55 CE, and Paul planed to continue at Ephesus for awhile to preach the Gospel, but he sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia (Acts 19:22) to confirm the churches of Europe concerning his intention to bring an offering from them to Jerusalem. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Paul’s Vision at Corinth

Paul’s stay in Corinth was not to be like his ministries cut short in Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea. No, in Corinth it would be much different than how Paul had come to expect in his ministry in Europe; he would remain here until he was satisfied with his labor and leave on his own terms. But, how could Paul know this? Once trouble broke out, it had been his manner to leave, so that he would not bring the wrath of the enemy upon the new and emerging church of God. Paul was made aware of what to expect through a vision from the Lord. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The Return of Silas and Timothy

We almost forget that Paul was led to Europe by a vision (Acts 16:9-10), for he was either asked to leave or expelled from the first three cities in which he preached, and as a result he wasn’t able to spend as much time as he would have liked in any one of them. While in Athens he despaired over the trouble he knew some of the believers were in, especially those in Thessalonica and sent both Silas and Timothy back to the new churches to encourage the brethren, and to help them in any way they could (1Thessalonians 3:1-2). Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Trouble in Thessalonica

Paul was deeply concerned over the condition of the believing community he left at Thessalonica. He and Silas had to leave in a hurry; indeed, they were expelled from the city by its ruling politarchs, who required Jason, whose home provided the necessary shelter for Paul and Silas, to post bond on their behalf to insure the peace of the city. Neither Paul nor Silas were legally able to return to the city as long as these same politarchs held office, which seems to be an annual term. However, the same magistrates could hold this office for more than one term,[1] which would keep the evangelists out of the city even longer. Nevertheless, it seems probable that the security would have been returned to Jason, if no ruckus had taken place over a single term of office. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Gospel, Paul's 2nd Missionary Journey

 

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When Was Paul’s 2nd Visit to Jerusalem?

Many scholars believe a problem exists between Paul and Luke concerning when Paul’s 2nd visit to Jerusalem occurred. Luke and Paul both agree that he visited Jerusalem not long after Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road. Paul says this occurred three years later (Galatians 1:18), and Luke doesn’t offer any specific time. So they both agree here as long as one doesn’t turn Luke’s lack of detail into a disagreement with Paul. Later in his letter Paul says that he didn’t return to Jerusalem again until 14 years later—i.e. 14 years after his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus road (cp. Galatians 2:1). The problem that scholars point to is that Luke shows Paul going to Jerusalem with Barnabas to bring the famine relief offering from the gentile churches for the poor in Judea, which Luke seems to place before the Jerusalem conference of Acts 15 (see Acts 12:25). Are these scholars correct? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Paul's Second Visit to Jerusalem

 

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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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Mary, the Mother of Mark

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 notice, and it can be disconcerting, is that the Gospel writers, including Luke’s work in Acts, simply mention a name and often without further instruction that would help us identify them further. Who is Mary, the mother of Mark, and how does she seem so important that Peter’s first choice as he is about to flee Jerusalem is to go to her home, expecting that she could be trusted to tell James, the Lord’s brother, and anyone else that needed to know his whereabouts (Acts 12:13-17)? Read the rest of this entry »

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

 

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Herod’s Official Story about Peter?

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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