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.

Acts 16

Acts 16: Cast into Prison

                Paul goes to Derbe and Lystra where he met up with Timotheus, who was a Christian but had a Jewish mother and a Greek father. They travel through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Ghost forbids them from entering Asia. They did this so the churches were “…established in faith, and increased in number daily.” (Acts 16:5)

Paul has a night vision of a man inviting him to Macedonia. Paul and those with him travel to Phillipi (near the city of Macedonia) where they stay with a devout Christian woman named Lydia. Later they run into a possessed slave girl who proclaims Paul and those with him to be the servants of the Most High God. Paul uses the power of the Priesthood to cast the demon out.

Paul and Silas are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for delivering the slave-girl from her demonic possession. The slave masters were upset that they could no longer make gain from her as a soothsayer. At night, while in the jail, the chains fall from them. The jailer, thinking his prisoners have escaped, thinks of committing suicide but Paul and Silas reveal themselves to him saying; “…Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” (Acts 16:28) The jailer and his family are then baptized. The next day, the magistrates free Paul and Silas. The magistrates are anxious when Paul reveals his Roman identity.

Acts 15

Acts 15: Circumcision; Yes or No?

                Certain men came down from Judea to teach that; “…Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1) Paul and Barnabas disagreed with the men and suggested they go to Jerusalem to speak with the other Apostles regarding the matter. Even though many in the church believed it was not necessary to be circumcised, a great number of Pharisees that had joined the church believed in the Law of Moses. The Apostles council in Jerusalem and after some time they decide and letters are sent to the churches of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, saying that circumcision is not necessary. However, the letter goes on to explain that only abstinence from idolatry, blood, things strangled and sexual immorality is necessary. Judas [surnamed Barnabas] and Silas [Chief men among the brethren] serve as missionaries in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas make plans to visit all the churches they have established, but they quarrel about whether to take John Mark with them, so in the end, Barnabas and John Mark go to Cyprus, while Paul takes Silas with him to Syria and Cilicia. They went throughout the land “…confirming the churches.” (Acts 15:41)

Acts 14

Acts 14: The Spreading of the Gospel

                Paul and Barnabas go into a synagogue in Iconium where they preach to the Jews and Greeks. Unfortunately only half of the people believe in them and the other half desired to kill them. Paul and Barnabas seeing there might be trouble flee to Lystria where they continued to preach the Gospel. While in Lystra, Paul heals a lame man, and the excited crowds declare that both Paul and Barnabas are gods in men form visiting the earth.

Jews from Iconium had followed Paul to persecute him, they stone him and think that they had stoned him to death… but he manages to escape and got to Antioch, where many churches are established. Paul reminds the Saints in the area that “…we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Essentially he is saying that if you believe in Jesus Christ and follow his commandments there will always be someone, with evil intent, who will persecute you. Believers will always be tested through tribulations, but if they endure well… God will reward them on high!

Acts 13

Acts 13: Saul = Paul

                In the church at Antioch, the Holy Ghost calls Barnabas and Saul to missionary work. They are both set apart by the Holy Ghost to administer this missionary work (see Acts 13:2). This act of ‘separating’ them for the work is the same way LDS Missionaries are set apart for 18-24 months to preach the Gospel throughout the world.

Barnabas, John and Saul depart for Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos and during their travels they encounter a man named Bar-jesus, who was a false prophet and a sorcerer. Another man named Sergius Paulus, who was a prudent deputy of the country desired to hear the word of God from Saul and Barnabas. However, Bar-jesus [Elymas, as it was being interpreted] desired to turn him away from the faith. Saul, who is also called Paul looked at Elymas and said; “…O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10) Sergius wanted to learn about Jesus and the His Gospel; however those with evil intent were trying to say him away from hearing the truth. Paul causes Elymas to go blind for a season. When Sergius saw this, he believed. John departs back to Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas continue on to Perga where Paul delivers a sermon in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Paul gives a extended history of Israel, and explains how Jesus came from the lineage of David. Paul preaches the risen Christ. When the Jews see the popularity of Paul’s message, they become envious. Paul quotes Isaiah, saying that Christ is a light to the gentiles. Paul explains that they need to be careful if they don’t want the wrath of God, as promised by the prophets of old. Paul explains that God will “…work a work in your days, a work which ye shall no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Acts 13:14, see also Habakkuk 1:5) Paul is explaining the great Restoration the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will happen in the Last. Many will not believe of the great work, even if someone were to tell them. That Restoration has already occurred, and the Church of Jesus Christ is back on the Earth today; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These statements angered the Jews, which causes them to expel Paul and Barabas from the region; they shake the dust from their shoes, and move on to Iconium.

Acts 12

Acts 12: Peter Flees from Prison

                King Herod [Nephew of Antipas] persecuted the church, killing the Apostle James with a sword. During the Passover, Peter is arrested. However the Christians throughout the land pray fervently to God for the release of Peter. God sends an angel who breaks into the Prison and causes Peter’s chains to fall from his hands. The Angel helps him get out of the Prison and into the city, and then he departs his own way. From here, Peter goes to the house of Mary, mother of John. A girl named Rhoda tells the apostles Peter has come, but she wasn’t believed until they see Peter for themselves. Finally the Apostles open the door and are astonished to see Peter, but Peter tells them to keep it quiet and to tell James… he then departs.

When Herod finds that Peter has escaped, he orders that the prison guards are put to death. Herod makes an oration to the people of Tyre and Sidon, and is praised by them as a god rather than a man. Because he was being praised as a god and not a man, an angel strikes him dead.

Acts 11

Acts 11: Church and Revelations

                When Peter returned to Jerusalem, after having converted many of the Gentiles, the Jews were quick to contend with him for having associated with the Gentiles. In his defense, Peter recounts the vision of the sheet, with the unclean and clean animals on it. (See Acts 10)

He explained that God had commanded him to preach unto those people, he goes on to state; “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift [Gift of the Holy Ghost] as he did unto us who believed on the Lord Jeus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17) Many of the people, after having heard this testimony of Peter, rejoiced!

The church in Antioch grows as Gentiles turn to the Lord. We learn that Barnabas ministered in Antioch. Saul works with Barnabas in Antioch where “…the disciples were called Christians first…” (Acts 11:29) Agabus prophesies famine, so the disciples send relief to their brethren throughout Judea.

Acts 10

Acts 10: The Gospel of the Gentiles

There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, who was a centurion [ancient Roman army officer: in ancient Rome, an officer in charge of a unit of foot soldiers] of the band called the ‘Italian band’. Cornelius was a devout man, who gave to the poor and prayed to God daily. Cornelius has a vision, where an angel of the Lord is sent commanding him to send men to Joppa and call for Peter.

Meanwhile in Joppa, Peter is on the roof top of the house of the Tanner, where he is praying to God. During his prayer, he falls into a ‘trance’, where he sees the heavens open and sheet filled with clean and unclean animals descends down upon him. The Lord tells Peter to “…kill, and eat.” (Acts 10:13) Peter refuses, because some of the animals are unclean. The invitation from the Lord to eat happens three times before the sheet goes back into heaven. Peter is awoken from his trance by the men that Cornelius had sent knocking on the gate of the home. Peter is told by the Spirit; “…Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19-20)

The men explain why they were sent, and Peter lodges with them. The next morning they depart together to Caesarea to meet Cornelius. When they arrive, Cornelius falls at the feet of Peter and worships him. Peter quickly corrects him, saying: “…Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (Acts 10:26)

Peter then speaks to Cornelius and his house, he points out that it is actually unlawful for a Jew to keep company with other people from other nations, but he explains from his vision the previous day that God had taught him; “…that I [Peter] should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Peter then teaches of Jesus Christ and opens up his address by emphasizing “…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him.” (Acts 10:34-35) Peter goes on to explain the story of Jesus Christ and how He died for the Sins of all. While Peter spake, the Spirit of God fell upon all who were gathered and they did believe.