Acts 23

Acts 23: 40 Jews try to kill Paul

                Paul goes before the Sanhedrin  and opens up by saying; “…Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts 23:1) and before Paul could finish, Ananias the high priest commanded the guards standing next to Paul to smack him across the face for his words. Paul quickly responds; “…God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” (Acts 23:3)

The Sanhedrin’s reaction to Paul statement is divided between Pharisees (who do believe in the resurrection of the dead) and the Saducees (who do not). It gets so bad at one point that Paul has to be rescued by the Roman commander, so he doesn’t get pulled apart from the mess. Paul is told in a dream that he will go to Rome and testify there. Forty Jews vow not to eat or drink until they have accomplished in killing Paul. Paul is warned by his nephew, who learns of the plot. Paul escapes to Caesarea  with a full military escort and a letter referring his case to the governor of the providence. The letter says that Paul is not worthy of death. Paul awaits trial in Caesarea.

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Acts 22

Acts 22: Conversion of Paul

                Paul delivers an address in Jerusalem after he was bound and ready to be sent to Prison. This carries over from Acts 21. Paul gives an autobiography,  telling of his persecution of Christians and his later conversion;

“And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” (Acts 22:6-15)

The crowd riots in response to Paul’s message. The commander orders that Paul be interrogated under scourging, but revokes the order when Paul reveals his Roman citizenship. The Roman commander arranges a hearing of the charges against Paul before the Sanhedrin.

Acts 21

Acts 21: Paul goes to Jerusalem

Paul sails to Syria where he is warned by disciples in Tyre not to go to Jerusalem. In Caesarea, the prophet Agabus binds his hands and feet with Paul’s belt and tells him the Jews in Jerusalem will bind Paul in the same way. Paul explains that he is willing to die in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul goes to Jerusalem anyways, saying: “… The will of the Lord be done.” (Acts 21:14) As a show of goodwill to the Jewish community there, Paul sponsors four Jews who are taking the Nazirite vow. Even with this show of goodwill, the Jews from Asia stir a mob against Paul. Roman soldiers rescue Paul, and he asks to speak to the crowd, and the soldiers agree. Paul addresses the crowd in Hebrew.

Acts 20

Acts 20: Apostasy

Paul travels through Greece and Macedonia, where he arrived at Troas. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” (Acts 20:7) For this purpose the first day of the week is Sunday, and therefore the Sabbath Day is Sunday. While preaching a certain woman brings a young man who is ‘sleeping’ to see Paul, his name is Eutychus. Paul raises Eutychus from the dead.

Paul then travels to Miletus and sends for the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him there. Paul says he will face imprisonment and tribulations preaching to Jerusalem. However, Paul is undeterred, because testifying of the gospel fills him with joy. Paul warns about the coming Apostasy in the church; “…after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30; see also Acts 28-30) Shortly after the apostles had been killed, the church started to fall in Apostasy and with time, evil men did lead away the members of Christ’s church, destroying it. Therefore, it was needful that a Restoration of His same Church, the Church of Jesus Christ would be restored in the last days, before His second coming. That church is known today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Acts 19

Acts 19: The Gift of the Holy Ghost

                While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the upper coasts of Epheus where he found certain Disciples of Christ who had not yet received the Holy Ghost;

“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as head whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto the, Unto what then where ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:2-6)

                When Paul had asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost, they knew nothing of it. These people thought they had received a valid baptism with the proper authority. However, Paul, an Apostle of the Lord told them that they had been baptized without the actual Authority. So when the people heard and understood this, they were RE-BAPTIZED, because a baptism without the proper Authority is just getting wet, and serves no purpose. Paul then gave them the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, by the proper Authority. Thus, it is important to have proper Authority to get a proper baptism. This Authority was lost some time after Paul was an Apostle, but has been restored in these Latter-days.

While in Ephesus Paul has a mixed response, but performs miraculous healings. The seven sons of Sceva, Jewish exorcists, try to exorcise by the name of the Lord Jesus. However, the evil spirits do not recognize them or their proper Authority and are beaten by the evil spirits. Many in Ephesus renounce occult objects. Demetrius, a maker of idols, opposes Paul because his business has suffered. A riot starts, which is finally calmed by a city clerk.

Acts 18

Acts 18: Apollos Preaches with Power

Paul departs from Athens and arrives in Corinth, where he stays with tentmakers named Aquila and Priscilla. Paul preaches to both Jews and Greeks, and many believe and are baptized. Paul receives encouragement in a vision to stay, and remains in Corinth for one and a half years. The Lord tells Paul in the vision; “…Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee…” (Acts 18:9-10) The Jews of Corinth attempt unsuccessfully to convict Paul before the civil authorities, but they refuse to convict Paul on the grounds of lawlessness. Paul cuts his hair in order to make a Nazirite vow. From here Paul travels to Ephesus, Antioch, Galatia and Phrygia. Aquila and Priscilla instruct a fervent Jew named Apollos about Christ; “…publickly shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:28)

A few things are very interesting from this chapter, first God tells Paul to not be afraid. Often times we can become afraid of spreading the Gospel, for fear of those who may reject it. God has made it clear that if we spread His Gospel, we will have His peace and comfort. The second thing that is interesting, is that Aquilla and Priscilla taught a Jew and not only did they verbally testify to him, they also used the scriptures to teach and convince. This means that it is ok to question things, but we need to fervently seek the answers by means of scripture study and help ourselves build our testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel through the testimonies and experiences of others.

Acts 17

Acts 17: The Unkown God

Paul goes to Amphipolis and Apollonia where he comes into Thessalonica and teaches Jews in a synagogue; “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath day reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” (Acts 17:2) Many of the Jews listened and understood the scriptures and were converted, these Jews “…received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) And many of them believed, however an equal number of them did not believe and caused many to instigate a riot.

Some of those who believe ask Paul; “…May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?” (Acts 17:19) Paul speaks to the men of Athens; “…I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKOWN GOD, Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you.” (Acts 17:22-23)

Paul then explains who God is; God… made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we life, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone, graven by art and the man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:24-31)

Paul explains that we are all the offspring of God, meaning we are His children, God created all men equally and the time of ignorance is over… God will no longer overlook worshipping false gods, the time is now to repent and turn to Him. God is not far from us, and Him being our Father we can turn to Him in prayer and receive guidance from Him. In today’s world we may not be worshiping a false god, but we might be worshiping Gold, Silver, Money or Fame.