Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
-1 John 2:27
If you would like more information on these topics, I recommend the following resources here at creationliberty.com:
The Book of Acts of the Apostles (or Acts for short) was written by Luke as a treatise of eye-witness testimony, and sent to a man who held a station of unknown governmental office. It documents Christ's ascension to heaven, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to those of the faith as a sign to the Jews, the miracles performed by Christ's disciples, the suffering, persecution, and death of those who preached Christ openly, and some of the operations of the church in the early days.
[v1] And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.This refers to the days in which the apostles were in the early stages of carrying out the will of God, gathering new disciples that would later spread far and wide around the world. The Grecians are normally defined as those who live in Greece, but in this context, it's specifically referring to Jews who were fluent in the Greek language, and the evidence for this is the fact that Greeks in general would not care about the daily ministration of widows in another country; it was coming from those who were very familiar with the traditions of the Hebrews, namely, the "daily ministration" for the widows. The daily ministration means they would give bread and other care for widows whose husbands (who may have lived in Greece, which is a good reason why the Grecians were making complaint) had died and left their women with very little or no family connections to be cared for; thus, it was up to the community in general to be charitable unto them.
[v2] Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.The ministers of God, which are those who deliver the Word of God and preach repentance and faith in Christ for the saving of souls, is a far greater duty than serving food at a table. This was in no way condemning the act of serving tables (i.e. feeding the poor and needy), but it is obviously greater to save one's soul from eternal hellfire than to hand bread to a widow; nonetheless, the work of feeding the hungry still needed to be done.
[v3] Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.Instead of taking the apostles and their disciples away from the work of saving souls, they selected a few Christians to go and fulfill this duty of charity to the poor and needy. This is not to say that the apostles and their disciples were unwilling to go and help the widows, but they had to prioritize certain duties. This is what it means to oversee the church; to delegate duties that need to be done for the ministry (i.e. the service) of others, but sadly, "overseeing" in modern day church buildings typically means ruling over a congregation of church-goers with a heavy hand. (i.e. Give respect unto the pastoral title and don't question the traditions of the church building, else you will be shunned or removed.)
(Read "Is the One-Pastor System Biblical?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v4] But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.They dedicated themselves to prayer and delivering the Word of God to the people for the saving of souls and watering (i.e. education and edification) of the seeds that fell on good ground (i.e. those born again in Christ - Luke 8:15), which would require them to have a flexible schedule, going wherever was needed, prayer, fasting, and study, which would not permit them to feed a group of widows at the same time at the same place every day.
[v5] And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:Seven men were chosen; one of them, Nicolas, was a "proselyte," meaning that he was a new convert, recently born again in Christ. It seems they chose a mixture of those who were veterans (like Stephen) and those who were new (like Nicolas), so the education in the Word could continue among them daily as they performed their duties.
[v6] Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.The laying on hands was a tradition that was passed on from the Jews, to give blessing to another. Sadly, this is done by many wicked cults and church buildings today; laying hands on anyone at random they would find on the street, people they just met, without considering the meaning of it, and without considering that we are commanded to lay hands on no man suddenly. (1Ti 5:22)
[v7] And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.Which may not have happened if the disciples had only listened to the complaints of the Grecians without considering the big picture. This shows us that charity should not be ignored, nor should the duties of evangelism be ignored, but all things should be wisely delegated as a need arises.
[v8] And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.Those similar to previous chapters; healing the lame, raising the dead, casting out devils, etc. This also tells us that, although all born again in Christ were filled with the Spirit of God, only some were given the power (i.e. authority) of the Holy Spirit to carry out miracles. It is not to say that others were not "full of the Holy Ghost," as verse three indicates that all were filled with the Holy Spirit, but only a few were given authority by God to perform wonders for the people as a sign of God's approval, and to prove to cautious individuals that this was not just a random fleeting cult.
[v9] Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.These men were filled with hatred at the doctrine that Stephen taught, being jealous of the attention he was getting that would naturally come from the miracles he performed. This is no different than the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees that disputed with Christ. The libertarians were "free men" that had Roman citizenship, the Cyrenians were from the Greek/Roman city of Cyrene, the Alexandrians were from Egypt, Cilicia was a city in Tarsus, where Saul/Paul was from, and the Asians, which no specific description is given, which may indicate that they were few in number from various locations, but they were all considered to be some sort of religious authority and had worked hard to upkeep their station of respect among the people.
[v9] And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.Though they were arguing against Stephen, they were not able to resist the wisdom of Christ, and since Stephen spoke with the same Spirit as Christ did, this is no surprise.
[v10] Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
suborned (v): planned to take a false oath or do a bad action against another
(See 'suborned', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Aug 26, 2017 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
[v11] And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,Keep in mind, they had to go stir up other people. They were not able to round up the people who had witnessed the miracles of healing the sick, nor the people who heard and believed the doctrine because they knew Stephen spoke the truth, but they went to other places to stir up wicked people against him; those who had not seen the miracles, nor heard the doctrine Stephen preached.
[v12] And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:It was not they who lied in court, but they set up false witnesses against that violated the Law of God. (Exd 20:16) Likely, they found a devious person that could be bought, and paid him/her to lie in open court.
[v14] For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.They lied using partial truths, which was sly enough to convince the public, as many of them have heard preached that Jesus prophesied that the temple would be destroyed (Mark 13:2). Jesus did not say that He would personally destroy it, but it would be torn down to the very last brick. They lied to say Jesus would come to destroy it, but He said no such thing. The priesthood was also changed from the Levites to Melchisedec (i.e. from the law of Moses and Aaron to faith in Christ), and that when the law is fulfilled, there would be a change in the law (Heb 7:12), not that the law was destroyed, but was fulfilled, and thus they lied to say that Jesus would "change the customs," which was not true; the customs are still there, but they have been fulfilled through Him. Unsurprising, these lies and false arguments are still made by many people today who are willingly deceived and do not understand the doctrines of Christ.
[v15] And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.God manifested light on the face of Stephen because, as we will read in the next chapter, He was about to give Stephen the words to speak to these men through the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11), and in my opinion, chapter 7 is one of the greatest speeches ever given in Scripture.
[v1] Then said the high priest, Are these things so?Though the light of an angel was coming from his face, the questioning continued. Whether the fear of God was in the high priest or not, we cannot tell from this verse alone.
[v2] And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,The Holy Spirit is speaking through Stephen, and is starting to explain to them the truth of the Word by going back to their origins. This is to show them that what is being taught is in direct agreement with the Word of God. The story he is about to tell them could be considered a short summary of the Old Testament; although most of the Old Testament books are not mentioned, and though Stephen is quoting mostly from Genesis and Exodus, the habit of the Jews to fall away was repeated throughout the Old Testament prophets.
[v3] And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
[v4] Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.God promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan, which was filled with the heathen Canaanites. Abraham, when he was 75 years old, moved from Charran (which is called Haran in the Old Testament) with his wife (Sarah) and his nephew (Lot). (Gen 12:5)
[v5] And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
[v6] And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.Abraham's grandson, Jacob, would move with his children to Egypt and live there, eventually being enslaved after the generations of the fathers had passed. It would be 400 years before God would bring them out of Egypt into the land He promised them. (Gen 15:13)
[v7] And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
[v8] And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
[v9] And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,The patriarchs are known to the Jews as the children of Jacob, or the children of Israel, which are the names of each of the tribes. Jacob's children were jealous/envious of Joseph (Gen 37:11) because God showed him in a dream that all of them would bow to him (Gen 37:10). The patriarchs sought to kill their brother Joseph (Gen 37:20), but instead decided to sell him into slavery for a profit (Gen 37:26-27).
[v10] And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.Through a series of events, Joseph was led to the King of Egypt, and through the Spirit of God, prophesied unto Pharaoh the famine of the coming years and how to survive it. (Gen 41:35-36) Pharaoh then made Joseph second in command over all Egypt. (Gen 41:40)
[v11] Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.The famine spread out over all the lands surrounding Egypt, forcing everyone to come to Egypt to buy food. (Gen 41:57)
[v12] But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.The patriarchs, Joseph's brothers, went to Egypt to buy food at the commandment of Jacob their father. (Gen 42:1-2)
[v13] And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.They visited Egypt to buy food, but did not recognize Joseph. (Gen 42:8) They came, left with food, and had to return again a second time. Long story short: Joseph made himself known to them on their return to Egypt. (Gen 45:3-4)
[v14] Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.This was the number that came to Joseph, which would be Jacob, his sons and their wives, and his grandchildren; a total of 75 people.
[v15] So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
[v16] And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
[v17] But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
[v18] Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
[v19] The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.The Egyptians feared that the Hebrews would become too great in number, because God blessed and multiplied them as He promised Abraham, and so to prevent them from growing large enough to challenge the armies of Egypt, they ordered the midwives to kill newborn males as they came out of the womb. (Exd 1:10-16) However, the midwives did not kill the male children; explaining to Pharaoh that the Hebrew women were more "lively" than the Egyptian women, and would give birth without the midwives. (Exd 1:18-19)
[v20] In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:Since the Hebrew mothers found a loophole, all people in Egypt were ordered by government decree to toss newborn males into the river, (Exd 1:22) where they would drown or be eaten by predators. Moses' mother could only hide a newborn baby for about three months before people would find out she had a male child that was not thrown in the river. (Exd 2:2)
(Read "False Doctrine: Unlimited Submission to Government" here at creationliberty.com for more details on the subject of submission to government in relation with submission to God.)
[v21] And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.Moses' mother made a basket for him and put him in the river safely, and obviously would have prayed God's protection over her child. (Exd 2:3) Pharaoh's daughter (by the divine providence of God) came to that very spot to bathe, and found the child. (Exd 2:5)
[v22] And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.He was named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah. (Exd 2:10) Moses received an Egyptian education, but also having a good understanding of many matters, which would have included other various cultures, like the Hebrews for example; these types of things would be common for princes to learn for the handling of political duties when they would eventually take charge of the nation.
[v23] And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.Moses was a middle-aged man before the Spirit of God came into his heart and guided him to visit the Hebrew slaves.
[v24] And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
[v25] For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.Moses had rescued the poor and needy out of the hands of a wicked man who oppressed them, and hid his body in the sand to cover up the matter. Moses knew he was adopted, and was of Hebrew blood, and that the God of the Hebrews had prophesied their liberty out of bondage, so he presumed the Jews would see his actions as a sign that God was coming to save them.
[v26] And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?Not only did they not understand the work of God in their favor, but they instead feared that Moses would kill them, and so they told Pharoah what he had done. (Exd 2:13-15) Moses sought to "set them at one," meaning that he wanted to make peace between them since there was much in-fighting among the Hebrews.
[v27] But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?This is not that Moses did wrong to his neighbor by killing the cruel man who oppressed the poor and needy, but rather, it was the man he had directly saved who did wrong unto Moses and pushed him away, being ungrateful to Moses. It was his blindness that God had put Moses in a position of authority; thinking foolishly that Moses simply put himself above them. Moses was later treated the same way by Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, when they rejected his authority, claiming that he brought them "to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us;" (Num 16:13) which is to say they rejected his authority (and likewise God's authority) and made a mockery of his good deeds toward them.
This is a key point in the speech Stephen is giving to the chief priests and elders. I have heard some people ask why the Lord God waited 400 years before leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, and this gives us indication why; their lack of faith, which they would later demonstrate on the road out of Egypt and at Mount Sinai. (Exd 32:1)
[v28] Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?The bitterness and pride of the man's heart would not let him see that Moses sought to do good, judge righteously, and make peace. Thus, he treated the killing of the Egyptian as murder, rather than defending the poor and needy against evil.
[v29] Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.As I stated earlier, he ran because the Hebrews turned Moses in to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh sought to kill Moses. (Exd 2:15) Moses fled to Midian and married the daughter of a priest in that land.
[v30] And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.Moses would have been 80 years old at that time an angel of God appeared to him in a fiery bush that was not consumed by heat. (Exd 3:2)
[v31] When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,The angel of God was in the form of the fiery bush, and God spoke to Moses through that angel. (Exd 3:3)
[v32] Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.Moses shook with fear, and hid his face; being afraid to look upon the face of God, though this was not the face of God, but an angel in the form of the fiery bush. (Exd 3:6)
[v33] Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
[v34] I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
[v35] This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.Stephen is making the point that it was the man who the Jews rejected that the Lord God chose to bring salvation to His people, or it may be better said that it was the man the Lord God chose to bring salvation to His people that the Jews rejected, and this was a common pattern that was seen throughout the Old Testament. (e.g. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc)
[v36] He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.The Lord God, when bringing in a new dispensation, always shows His wonders and miracles as a sign of evidence for His people to know for certain what He's doing. This is important for the chief priests and elders to hear because Stephen was also showing the wonders and miracles of God through His works in this new dispensation, yet they remained willingly blind to it because confessing Christ to be truth would also mean they must confess that they crucified God Himself who visited His people in the flesh. Remember that it was not the miracles that offended the chief priests and elders; it was the doctrine of Christ that was offensive to them.
[v37] This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
[v38] This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:The children of Israel that wandered in the wilderness were the church of God at that time; whereas now those who have repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, being cleansed by His blood, are the church of God in this time. The "lively oracles" would be the angels that ministered unto Moses and gave him God's law. Stephen points out here that God spoke through His angels to Moses on different occasions, and this is because "no man hath seen God at any time." (John 1:18, 1Ti 6:16, 1Jo 4:12)
[v39] To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,At one point, the children of Israel elected a captain to lead them back into Egypt; (Num 14:4) preferring to follow after the lusts of their hearts and live in slavery than to follow after faith in the Almighty God, who performed miracles before their eyes, just as Stephen had performed the miracles of God before the eyes of the chief priests and elders.
[v40] Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.They had made a golden calf to worship, serving false gods and claiming that those false gods brought them out of Egypt. (Exd 32:8-9)
[v41] And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.The Lord God sought to wipe them out because of their offenses, and make a nation out of Moses alone, but Moses, the prophet they originally rejected, entreated God on their behalf. (Exd 32:11-14)
[v42] Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?Their time in the wilderness was due to their disobedience against God, but more specifically, that He turned from them because they turned from Him to sacrifice unto devils. (Amos 5:25-26)
[v43] Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.There is a long history of the Jews turning to false gods to worship them, and the Lord God eventually led them captive into Babylon for seventy years as a punishment for their wickedness. (Jer 25:11)
[v44] Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
[v45] Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;The name "Jesus" in this passage is not referring the Lord Jesus Christ, but represents Joshua. Both names mean "salvation," but they are different spellings of the same name; just as "Elijah" and "Elias" are different spellings of the same name. The context would not make any sense otherwise, since this is referring to the possession of the land of Canaan, which is now called Israel, and the driving out of the Canaanites to give the land to the "fathers," which are their ancestors. (Jos 3:10)
[v46] Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.The words "unto the days of David" are referring to this tabernacle, which was mobile, and would be moved from place to place. David built a permanent habitation for it. (Psa 132:2-5)
[v47] But Solomon built him an house.This is the construction of the Temple of God, sometimes referred to as "Solomon's Temple." (1Ki 6:2)
[v48] Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,The "most High" is one of the many names of God. (Gen 14:18)
[v49] Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?The Lord God said His dwelling place is not in this world, and that he looks to the humble man who fears His Word; not to those who build grand structures. (Isa 66:1-2)
[v50] Hath not my hand made all these things?Men often try to impress by the things they make, rather than humbling themselves to repentance, which is what the Lord God desires of all men. (2Pe 3:9)
[v51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.The Holy Spirit has been active throughout the Old Testament, just as He is in the New Testament, because the Holy Ghost is God the Father and Christ the Son because they are one.
(Read "Is The Trinity a Biblical Doctrine?" here at creationliberty.com for more details; the "trinity" is a pagan term, but one God presenting Himself to mankind in three persons is Biblical.)
Stephen has not only made it clear that he has taught the doctrines of the Old Testament correctly, and thoroughly understands them, but now he brings this information forward as a testimony against the chief priests and elders. God called the children of Israel "stiffnecked," because they refused to turn their heads and see the truth of their deeds; (Exd 32:9) they focused more on the circumcision of males as an outward sign of dedication of God, cleaning the outside of the cup and platter, (Mat 23:26) rather than cleaning the inside, which is what is meant by circumcising the heart. (Deut 10:16)
This is still a problem today; with pastors, deacons, and elders being so common among the church buildings, yet most of them only make clean the outside. The Lord Jesus Christ called them "whited sepulchres," which is a tomb that is polished and made beautiful on the outside, but inside is full of the bones of dead men. (Mat 23:27) To say such things to the leadership of modern church buildings causes great anger and offense to those in chief position, and it was no different in the time and place Stephen made this speech; the only difference being that the law of their society allowed these men to kill Stephen if they felt so inclined.
[v52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:The prophets of the Old Testament were persecuted in the same way the chief priests and elders persecuted Stephen; the same way they persecuted Christ. Stephen and the other six men appointed to the widows performed the duties of charity that were supposed to be done by the very men persecuting them, performed miracles of healing by the power of the Almighty God upon whom these chief priests and elders claimed themselves to serve, and sit unashamed upon their chief seats, wearing their grand decorations, puffing themselves up in the synagogue, (Psa 12:5) and have the nerve to judge God's elect, and since God was working through His elect, they were judging God Himself in the process. (Mat 23:5-6)
[v53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.Christ said the same, telling the leaders that they draw close to God with their mouths only, but their hearts are far from Him, and that they teach the doctrines and commandments of men, while ignoring the commandments of God. (Mat 15:3-9)
[v54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.The "gnashing of teeth" is when a person presses and grinds their teeth together in anger, which can be done both with the mouth open or closed. Most often, men tend to do it with their mouths closed to preserve some manner of decency, but the truth can be seen in animals because beasts do not stand on pretense. When an animal, such as a wolf, gnashes his teeth, it is a fearsome sight to behold, and it clearly shows the intent of violence that likely follows. The chief priests and elders were "cut to the heart," meaning that they knew of their own guilt, and understood the truth of what Stephen taught, but because they were high-minded men who loved the pleasures of their position more than they loved God, (2Ti 3:4) and because they could no longer reason their position with the Scriptures, (Isa 1:18) just as a mindless and heartless wolf, one which bares its teeth and only desires the fulfillment of the belly, (Phl 3:19) their only response was to attack.
[v55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,Stephen knew what he was looking at, although it is hard for us to imagine what it was like to look at the glory of God and see Christ standing next to His throne.
[v56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.Although Stephen did nothing more than declare the truth of what he was seeing, this further enraged the chief priests and elders. Such a sight would not only cause Stephen to ignore their raging accusations at him, but it would also indicate that Stephen could see the Lord of Glory, while the chief priests and elders could not.
[v57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,This means that no reasoning or words of wisdom would stop them from what they were about to do.
[v58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.This is actually quite common still today; not the stoning, but the manner in which the chief priests and elders acted. They believed that by questioning their authority, it was questioning God's authority, and by condemning them, they believed Stephen was condemning God, but in reality, they only connected themselves to God's authority by their own tradition, rather than through humility and service to the Almighty; practicing the faith and charity which was taught by Lord God and His Son.
The act of stoning was the law; those Jews who would curse God were to be stoned outside the camp. (Lev 24:14)
They removed their outer garments and laid them at the feet of Saul of Tarsus, who would later become Paul, servant of Christ. Scripture calls him "young," but this is in constrast to the older men who were stoning Stephen to death. Saul was likely somewhere around thirty years old, since, thirty years after this event, Paul said he was in his aged (or elderly) years. (Phm 1:9)
[v59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.While they threw rocks at him, which would have been incredibly painful, his focus was on the Lord Jesus Christ.
[v60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.Stephen, humbled in the Lord, gave his final thoughts to the children of Israel, to those who persecuted him, praying that the Lord God not hold them accountable for their ignorance in the matter of his murder. The mercy and forgiveness of such a thing is great, but for those who have been forgiven much, such love is a simple matter. (Luke 7:47)
[v1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
consent (v): to agree in accord with
(See 'consent', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Aug 30, 2017 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
[v2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.Which would be natural in such a tragic situation, but also because Stephen would have been so highly respsected as a servant among the Christians in that day. Even I greatly admire him after reading about his boldness, humility and charity. Consider that, though he was filled with the Holy Ghost and could perform miracles of healings, he gladly accepted a lowly position to care for the widows, which showed that he was the greatest among them because he was the least among them, (Mat 20:25-27) and why God chose him for the task to deliver that speech to the chief priests and elders. (1Co 1:27-28)
[v3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison."Haling" is another spelling of "hauling," which is to drag by force the Christians from their homes and put them in prison. At that time, Saul thought he was serving the Almighty God by keeping the commandments of the chief priests and elders.
[v4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.This did not sway the Christians from teaching the truth, but rather, boldened them all the more to share the Gospel of Christ, since Christ had taught them they were blessed when men would persecute them in such ways. (Mat 5:11)
[v5] Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.Since the majority of the apostles performing miracles were doing so in Jerusalem, Philip began to go out further to extend the ministry.
[v6] And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.This was extraordinary that the grand majority of the people in Samaria listened to Philip and came to see him. Such examples are strong evidence of the miracles that were performed because no other religious institution in history, at its birth, was able to gain that many converts in such a short time; the only way that could have happened was if the account of Scripture is true, that people were watching incurable illnesses cured instantly by nothing more than a spoken word.
[v7] For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.This city had a large quantity of pagans, and thus, due to their wicked sacrifices, spell casting, and other various practices in communication and communion with devils, resulted in the demonic possesion of many in the population. Even today, there are many possessed of devils, but our society labels them with medical deficiences, and give them drugs, which is a form of sorcery and only makes the problem worse. Because they did not follow the laws of God concerning cleanness in their society, they were overrun with disease and illness, like palsies, which come from viral infections, most often due to septic living conditions or sexually transmitted diseases.
[v8] And there was great joy in that city.To live in a nation full of false converts and lukewarm church goers, it is difficult for us to imagine so many faithful in Christ rejoicing together in a single city, being made clean spiritual and physically in mass. I still believe that God can and will do this for nations today if they repent, but the Bible has said that the problem will only get worse before the end, not better. (2Th 2:3)
(Read "Revivalism: The Devil's Design" here at creationliberty.com for more details on the false doctrine of most modern day church buildings; there is nowhere in Scripture that prophesies that there would be great revival before the end.)
[v9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:Though in modern American society, Christ is typically mocked as one who did parlor tricks to impress the people, but the truth was that the pagans, wizards, witches, and sorcerers were the ones who were using parlor tricks to fool the people. The Lord God hates all manner of witchcraft, (Exd 22:18, Deut 18:10) and it was men like Simon who brought suffering to the people through his wicked magic and drugs (i.e. sorcery).
[v10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.They were fooled; thinking his devilish witchcraft came from God.
[v11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.Witches and sorcerers were not persecuted like the Christians were, and that was because many leaders in high places had respect to paganism and witchcraft, just as many Jewish kings had done before them.
[v12] But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.They were baptized after their conversion in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, as is commanded to be done by all Christians in obedience.
(Read "The Biblical Understanding of Baptism" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.Simon CLAIMED to believe, but he was a false convert. Simon received his seed among the thorns, (Mat 13:22) meaning that he only believed in the power of the miracles, and sought to claim that power for his own selfish purposes.
(Read "Revivalism: The Devil's Design" here at creationliberty.com for more details on the many fake "faith" healers that hold the unbiblical revivals.)
[v14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:Philip would have needed help, as it would have been a heavy burden to handle that many people all at once; it would have been almost a non-stop barrage of requests and questions, allowing him little time to rest, so Peter and John came to assist in the work.
[v15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:Peter and John prayed for the new church that had formed in Samaria, that they would receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost and be able to help in spreading the truth of Christ.
[v16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)Meaning that none of the Christian converts in Samaria had the gifts of the Holy Spirit to perform the miracles needed for the ministry at that time. This is not to say that all Christians today receive these special gifts of healing, but at the time it was necessary to announce the new dispensation of God, and today, we need to remember Christ taught that wicked and adulterous people seek after signs and miracles. (Mat 16:4)
[v17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.The laying on hands was a Jewish tradition of passing blessings onto another.
[v18] And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,Seeking power for personal gain is standard operating procedure for a witch.
[v19] Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.As I stated earlier, Simon was not of Christ, and sought to purchase special powers he could use for his own gain, treating the holiness of the Lord as nothing more than pagan witchcraft, which is abomination in the sight of God. Salvation would make no sense if it could be purchased with gold and silver, and likewise also the gifts of the Spirit of God. His believing that the Lord of Glory is interested in money only shows that Simon had no understanding of the Christian God of the Bible he claimed to believe in.
[v20] But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.In his current state, Simon was not a Christian at heart, and so Peter points out that destruction will befall both Simon and his money; whereas eternal life can only be obtained through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
[v21] Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.Meaning that Simon had no part in the things the church was doing because he was not one of the elect of God; he "accepted Jesus" because he wanted the power to perform miracles, not because he was repentant of his sin. While thousands are being baptized, it would not be simple to discern repentance in every person; the evidence would only become clear afterwards by spending time with them and hearing what they say.
[v22] Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.Peter was not personally condemning Simon to hell, but Peter knew he was a false convert. He urged him to repent and pray for the forgiveness of God.
[v23] For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.He had not been freed from bondage because he had never received Christ.
[v24] Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.Notice that Simon did not pray for forgiveness, nor did he repent. He requested that the one with the power of miracles pray for him because he still had a ritualistic mindset to gain power, thinking that because he did not have the power of the Spirit of God, that he could not come to God, nor was he willing to understand that he would perish in his sin and needed the Savior.
[v25] And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.Jesus had told His disciples not to preach to the Samaritans (Mat 10:5) at first, but that was only for a time. Now that they had thoroughly preached Christ's doctrine in Jerusalem and Judea, they could continue in Samaria also, as Jesus told them in Acts 1:8.
[v26] And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.The Holy Spirit had a plan for Philip to meet someone, and commanded him to go to a specific location at a specific time.
[v27] And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,There are many cults that have existed (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc) who have taught that black men cannot receive the Gospel, but the Ethiopians were black people (Jer 13:23). This Ethiopian man would have been a wise and trustworthy person to be put in charge of the queen's finances, and was made a eunuch as was custom for many of those in high position in royal houses at that time. (Dan 1:3-4) He was returning to Ethiopia from Jerusalem, being given permission to go and worship, and may have been a new convert to the Jewish religion; it was very likely he heard of the Christians and the Gospel of Jesus during his trip.
[v28] Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.He was reading from Isaiah.
[v29] Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.Philip was informed that this was the person he was sent to meet.
[v30] And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?Likely being a somewhat long journey, he was excited to meet the man he was specifically sent unto, and moved quickly over to see him. The Ethiopian attempted to understand the Word of God, and was open to the doctrines taught within.
[v31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.He needed a bit of help to understand what he was reading, as we all do at times. He requested Philip's help.
[v32] The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
[v33] In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
[v34] And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?What should have been plain to see for the chief priests and elders, Sadducees and Pharisees, who grew up in a nation who claimed themselves dedicated to the Lord God, was easily diserned by one Ethiopian eunuch that was humble of heart. He could plainly see that the prophecy of Isaiah pointed to someone very important.
[v35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.The Lamb spoken of in Isaiah is the perfect Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, (1Pe 1:19) who takes away the sin of the world through the power of His blood. (John 1:29)
[v36] And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?This indicates that he believed all that Philip taught him, and was eager to join the church of God.
[v37] And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.Which provides Scriptural evidence that those who do not believe should not be baptized. We baptize only those who profess to believe on Christ, not that we are always able to discern in the moment a false convert whose seed fell among the stones, (Mat 13:20-21) but we baptize with the knowledge we have at the time by the commandment of Christ.
[v38] And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.Not that the chariot itself obeyed his command, but that there was a driver of the chariot while he sat in the back reading.
[v39] And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.Even if he did not see Philip leave by the Spirit of the Lord, he knew it was physically impossible for Philip to disappear from sight that quickly while standing in the water. The Ethiopian knew it was the Lord God who had sent Philip unto him to give him understanding of who it was that Isaiah spoke of, and he rejoiced at the blessings, power, and mercy of the Son of God.
[v40] But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.Azotus is the Greek spelling of Ashdod mentioned in the Old Testament. (1Sa 5:1)
[v1] And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,Saul of Tarsus continued his crusade against the Christians for years after he witnessed the death of Stephen. (See Johnson's Notes on Acts 7:58)
[v2] And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.The Christians captured would be brought to Jerusalem for punishment, which would be death. The Jews were going where the Christians were going, persecuting them along the way, which shows more evidence of the truth of Christ, since the Jews had never before persecuted another religion in such a way. These verses never make mention that he received the letters of authorization he was looking for, but due to the rage of the chief priests and elders against the Christians, it is likely that Saul received them.
[v3] And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:This was a strong light that was much brighter than anything produced by the brightest daylight. Saul of Tarsus (i.e. Paul) later testifies that it was midday (i.e. noon) and that it was "above the brightness of the sun." (Acts 26:13)
[v4] And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?The Lord Jesus Christ spoke directly unto Saul of Tarsus, and questioned him about his persecution. Saul believed that he was serving the Lord God, but by persecuting His children (i.e. those born again), by extension, he was persecuting Christ.
[v5] And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.Which would be like kicking into thorny vines, doing little damage to the plants as a whole, but injuring oneself greatly in the process. Saul believed that whoever spoke to him was his Lord, and thus, once the voice announced Himself to be Christ, Saul believed.
[v6] And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.Saul's first act of faith was simple: Enter into the city of Damascus and wait for further instructions.
[v7] And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.The other men with him, which would have been assistant to his original intention in Damascus, namely the persecution of the Christians, were astonished at the voice, and were witness to the message from Jesus.
[v8] And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.It is likely that Saul fell on his knees in fear and humility, both from the authority of the voice, and to shield his eyes from the bright light. The Lord Jesus Christ took away Saul's vision for a time, and the other men with him helped Saul get to a place he could rest.
[v9] And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.Saul fasted for three days, and took no water either, which was sometimes done during fasting depending on the situation. (Exd 34:28)
[v10] And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.Which is not to be confused with the Ananias of Acts 5:1, because he was punished with death for lying to the Holy Spirit. (See Johnson's Notes on Acts 5:1-5) This Ananias was a faithful servant of Christ.
[v11] And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,The Lord had selected Saul to teach His Word and lead His Church, and sent Ananias to guide him in the right direction.
[v12] And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.The Lord God let Saul know ahead of time who was coming to see him, so that he would know for sure it was of Christ, and would have confidence in the direction he should go.
[v13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:Many were imprisoned and slain by Saul's efforts, and the Christians knew him and were afraid.
[v14] And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.Just because Saul had lost his sight was no reason to think that he might lead Ananias to his death. It did not seem to me that Ananias was afraid of dying for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, nor did he hesitate to serving at the Father's command, but made mention of this to God in hopes to gain understanding of what was happening.
[v15] But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:It is the method of God to find the least likely, the weak, the poor, those who have done great wrongs, and others who society has condemned or forgotten, bring them to repentance and convert their souls, and then send them back out completely changed to preach for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. He does this so that no flesh would glory in His presence, or in other words, no man would receive glory for what God has done. (1Co 1:27-29)
[v16] For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.Many various sufferings, such as being whipped, shipwrecked, beaten, stoned to death, hunger, thirst, coldness, nakedness, sleep deprived, and many other things Paul mentions later. (2Co 11:23-27)
[v17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.Ananias announced himself to Saul, knowing that he was blind, not in the sense to give him a title, as some have argued that this as a justification to give all men and women in the church the title of "Brother" or "Sister" before their names (and to justify other such titles), but as a declaration of truth to fulfill the Word of God given to him, and to make sure there was no confusion in communication with Saul.
(Read "Titles are Unbiblical in the Church" here at creationliberty.com for more details; titles such as "Pastor," "Deacon," and "Reverend," just to name a few, were never used in the early church and are not supported in the New Testament.)
[v18] And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.Ananias laid hands on Saul at the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, was filled with the Holy Ghost, and received his sight once again, but this time for the purpose of fulfilling the ministry of the Christian church. Saul was baptized after receiving the Holy Spirit, which is another verse that provides us evidence that one does not receive the Holy Spirit from baptism, as some cults have proposed.
(Read "The Biblical Understanding of Baptism" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.Anyone who has fasted for at least three days can understand the lack of strength in the body without food, and Saul regained his strength after eating. Saul was introduced to the church at Damascus, and learned about their daily operations.
[v20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.Saul was already prepared with intimate knowledge of the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit gave him conviction to preach Christ boldly in the synagogues without delay.
[v21] But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?Saul went straight for the location he was supposed to arrive with a letter that gave him permission to hunt down the Christians, and preached the truth of Christ to them instead.
[v22] But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.Saul would have proved it by showing them prophecy of Scripture and revealing the truth of what Christ taught and did.
[v23] And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:They would not listen to reason from one of their own because they loved their lofty positions more than they loved God.
[v24] But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.Saul taught many days at the synagogue, and they waited for him to either come or go out of the gates, but either a friend working within or one of the other Christians warned him about their plans.
[v25] Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.Similar to how Rahab let down the two Jews from the wall by a cord to avoid the guards. (Jos 2:15)
[v26] And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.Because the modern American church buildings have learned so much false doctrine, and because they have traditions of an open door policy concerning the church, they allow anyone and everyone to come in among them, but this is not how the church originally operated. If the church did not believe that someone was of Christ, they would not be allowed to congregate among them; not that they could not speak to that person, as some cults teach shunning, (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses) but that person was not allowed to join the church for study and worship of God to be yoked among them because we are commanded to be not yoked together with unbelievers concerning things of the church and Spirit of God. (2Co 6:14-18) Thus, the true church of Christ, those who are the elect children of God, should not be so casual with who they allow in the church, (Mat 18:15-17) and ought to approach the matter with some caution concerning wolves who will enter in to devour the sheep. (Acts 20:29)
Likewise, Saul was not allowed to enter the church at first because they had no evidence that he was of Christ.
[v27] But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.Barnabas had Saul come with him to go to the elders (i.e. the apostles) to give his personal eye witness testimony of Saul's conversion; that he had witnessed him preach Christ openly at Damascus to the point they threatened his life. This shows us that one within the church can vouch (i.e. bear witness) for another if the person in question cannot provide evidence.
I can personally testify that I have met and received letters from many people claiming to be of Christ, and calling me a "brother," but it turned out that many of them believed in a number wordly doctrines that contradicted the teachings of Christ (of which they would not repent), and some others who betrayed me in a variety of ways. (Paul experienced similar things while leading in ministry. 1Ti 1:20, 2Ti 4:14) Just as the church did not accept one simply because he said he was called by Christ, so the church ought not to accept one simply on that basis either; we need evidence, either through their conversation in Christ over time, through evidence of their public ministry, or by another within the church who can vouch for their words and actions in faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. (i.e. Our works should be evidence of our faith. Jms 2:18)
(Read "False Converts & Eternal Security here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v28] And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.With the eye witness acount of Barnabas, they welcomed him, and he went with them as they taught and ministered.
[v29] And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.Saul debated against the the same type of people who were debating with Stephen, (See Johnson's Notes on Acts 6:9-10) but now they were angry enough to kill Saul, likely due to the fact that Saul was just recently on their side and had been completely converted, which is a powerful public testimony against them.
(Read "What is a Testimony?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v30] Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.They sought to save his life, not only because he was their brother in Christ, but also because they believed him when he said the Lord Jesus Christ had visited him on the road to Damascus and declared him to be a teacher over the church. Paul then traveled to his home of Tarsus, where he would have friends and family who might help him, and that he might deliver to them the truth of Christ.
[v31] Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.After Saul had moved on to other places, the church experienced a temporary rest period, meaning that there was a time they were left alone to be edified (i.e. built up). It is in times of peace, however, that the church must be on its utmost guard, because that's where false converts can easily enter in. (Mat 13:20-21)
[v32] And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.Meaning that Peter had gone through all the regions where churches had been established to check in on them, to not only make sure they were teaching what was right, but also to see how he could be of assistance to them. Lydda was west of Jerusalem.
[v33] And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.Peter would have gone into his home, since he could not get out of his bed.
[v34] And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.Aeneas arose immediately because he had faith in Christ. A man who was lame much of his life may scoff at someone who would come into their home and say such a thing, but Aeneas got up immediately because he believed both in Christ and who Peter was in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ.
[v35] And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.His health was a testimony to the working of the Holy Spirit.
[v36] Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.The Old Testament spelling is Japho. (Jos 19:46) Tabitha is known in Greek as "Dorcas," which means 'gazelle'. She did good among the people, and gave alms to the poor.
[v37] And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.Tabitha's body was cleaned and prepared for burial after she had died.
[v38] And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.Lydda was a short distance (i.e. nigh) to Joppa. Two men were sent to Peter to request he come to them, although it does not give the exact reason why. They may have thought Peter would perform a miracle to bring her back, they may have wanted him to come see them in their grief, but we also must consider that these verses do not say that they requested her presence because of Tabitha's death; thus, it may have been that Peter was summoned simply because they wanted him to come and preach to them.
[v39] Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.These were some of her alms giving. Many believe that alms is money only, which is not the case; alms can be given in many various ways, but it is best defined as charity unto the poor and needy, and so Tabitha clothed the poor and needy.
[v40] But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.Unlike the fake "faith healers" and their parlor tricks, Peter, by the working of the Holy Spirit, spoke a word and a woman, who was verified dead by many, opened her eyes and sat up.
[v41] And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.Again, the Lord God is working miracles as evidence of the new dispensation.
[v42] And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.This was a sign to the people that the Lord Jesus Christ is their salvation.
[v43] And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.A man named Simon, who worked with leather, gave Peter a place to stay while he worked among them.
[v1] There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,There were two cities called "Caesarea," one is more commonly known as Caesarea Philippi, but the other Caesarea (referred to in this verse) was also called "Strato's Tower." Cornelius was part of a band off 100 men (known as centurions, typically Romans), which came from Italy.
[v2] A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.This answers the question as to whether believers can be military soldiers; obviously they can, otherwise, God would not have sent angels unto this centurion.
[v3] He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.The Lord God sent an angel to Cornelius with a message of instruction.
[v4] And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.Meaning that God remembered the prayers and alms of Cornelius.
[v5] And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:Cornelius was in charge of servants and soldiers, and he was to send some to invite Peter to his home.
[v6] He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.The sea side is a good place for a tanner, so his drying racks can get plenty of sun and wind, and it would be a familiar and comforting sight to Peter, since he was a fisherman by trade. God would later inform Peter of what he was to do when the messengers arrived.
[v7] And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;Though the angel did not say how many exactly, which means God left it up to Cornelius's discretion, and he discerned that one soldier and two servants should be enough for an escort.
[v8] And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.They would have known the gravity of the situation; that they were directed and protected by the Lord God since He had given a direct commandment.
[v9] On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:The sixth hour was noon, which was one of the traditional times of prayer among the Jews.
[v10] And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,A trance is a limbo state in which the soul is not present, but the body is not dead.
[v11] And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:In this vision was some sort of container, or rather, a sheet that was let down in the center and formed a container in the middle. It may have been some representation of the Gospel coming unto the four corners of the earth, which is a metaphorical reference to the four corners of a map, encompassing the entire world. (Isa 11:12)
[v12] Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air."All manner" would mean that there are both kosher and non-kosher, clean and unclean, animals in this vision. (Although, vision may not be the right phrase, since by trance, it may be that Peter soul was transported temporarily for God to teach him this lesson, but the word is used in verse 19, which means that even if Peter was transported, it was still a vision.)
[v13] And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.Which would have called for him to fill himself on both clean and unclean beasts.
[v14] But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.All his life, Peter lived as a Jew, and in Jewish society, they did not eat any unclean animal, such as a pig or rabbit. (Lev 11:5, Lev 11:7)
[v15] And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.This is not to be understood that God has called all animals clean, although there is no wrong in eating unclean animals in the New Testament, (1Ti 4:4) but this is a metaphorical reference in which He is teaching Peter that the Gospel of Christ is moving into the lands which are considered unclean among the Jews.
[v16] This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.When reading this, I am left to presume that Peter sometimes has to experience something, or be told something, three times. Just as he had to be asked three times if he loved Christ (John 21:17), or as he denied Christ three times before the rooster crowed (Mat 26:75), he also had to be commanded three times to accept that which he considered to be unclean.
[v17] Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,The Lord God did not show Peter the full meaning of this vision, but would reveal it to him through the servants of Cornelius.
[v18] And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.They asked specifically for Peter, which would not be common to receive visitors from a far off land who asked for a man they had never met.
[v19] While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.The Spirit of God guided Peter to the interpretation of the vision that He had prepared for him.
[v20] Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.It may be a scary situation that someone of high position in the military has sent servants and soldiers to retrieve Peter, but God reassures him that He has sent them.
[v21] Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?It's not that Peter doubted by asking them a question, because he would have gone with them at the commandment of God without any explanation, but he wanted to understand why they were there and where they were going to take him.
[v22] And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.They reported the matter as Cornelius had explained it to them, and gave them instruction to tell Peter.
[v23] Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.Peter suggested they stay the night to prepare provisions and set out early in the morning, and the travelers were likely already tired from their trip. Though the journey wasn't far, it was best not to set out in the afternoon to get stuck on the road after sunset.
[v24] And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.Cornelius knew about how long it would take to retrieve Peter, and he had faith that God would protect them and bring them swiftly.
[v25] And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.Though Cornelius sought to give Peter honor, it was not good to worship a man in the spiritual context.
[v26] But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.Peter gently rebuked Cornelius, since sharp rebuke is unnecessary against a humble man.
[v27] And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.This would have been many others who knew Cornelius and believed in the Hebrew God. They came to see what message Peter would bring to them from the Lord.
[v28] And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.God was teaching Peter that the Gospel has come unto all men, not just the Jews. The Old Testament commandments were for the Jews to stay away from the heathen nations, (Deut 7) but now the Christians are being sent into the heathen nations to save those who would repent and believe on Christ.
[v29] Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
gainsaying (v): contradicting; denying; opposing
(See 'gainsaying', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Sept 3, 2017 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
[v30] And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,It seems Cornelius continued to fast for the days proceeding God's commandment to him. The ninth hour would be 3:00 PM, another of the traditional time of daily prayer for the Jews.
[v31] And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.Cornelius was repeating what God told him in verse 4.
[v32] Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.This is more confirmation that the message he heard was from the Living God, who knew the exact location of Peter, and told Cornelius precisely where to send his servants.
[v33] Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.He sent them immediately, fearing God's Word. Cornelius was now eager to hear what message God had given Peter for all gathered in his house to hear.
[v34] Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:The Lord God does not give favor to a man because of his title, position, lineage, or citizenship. It is the wicked hearts of mankind that highly esteem and worship title and position, but God sees the heart and analyzes the thoughts of a man. Whether it is a pastor, doctor, king, or anyone else highly esteemed in society, to consider one man over another because of his prestigious title is sin. (Jms 2:9)
(Read "Why Are Christians Respecting Persons?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v35] But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.The Lord God does not care about their history or where they live, so long as they have the fear of the Lord, (Psa 111:10) in repentance and faith, he will bless them and keep them because He is a gracious and merciful God. (Neh 9:31)
[v36] The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)Christ came to the children of Israel, and thus the children of Israel who believed on Christ should preach it to all, even to the heathen nations afar off. (Eph 2:17)
[v37] That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;The message began with John the Baptism, and spread throughout Israel.
[v38] How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.By now, word of the miracles of Christ had spread among many nations, and Peter affirms these truths to Cornelius's household.
[v39] And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:Peter also testifies to the household that he personally witnessed these events.
[v40] Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;Peter is giving witness to the resurrection of the dead, by which is a foundation of our faith. Without the resurrection of the dead, the Bible tells us that our preaching would be in vain, (1Co 15:12-13) which is why so many enemies of God have attempted to disprove the resurrection, though no one has been able to do so because the amount of eye witness testimony and recorded evidence that exist for the existence and resurrection of Christ outweighs other testimony and recorded evidence that is used to support commonly taught historical events in the average public school classroom.
[v41] Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.Not everyone saw the miracles, nor listened to Christ speak, but He showed these things to a select number of people, that among them would arise eye witnesses that would testify of Christ's works, and then they would have the choice to believe. Christ blessed those who believe His Word, believing in His works and His resurrection from the dead, but have not personally witnessed them with their own eyes. (John 20:29)
[v42] And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.Just as we, as Christians, are all given commandment to teach others the truth of Christ's doctrine, (Mat 28:20) and to testify that Christ, who is ordained by God, will judge all mankind, (Heb 9:27) both the quick (i.e. those who are born again through repentance and faith in Christ) and the dead (i.e. those who died in their sin).
[v43] To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.Every Old Testament prophet had foretold of Christ's coming in one way or another; that He would be salvation for those who repent and believe on Him.
[v44] While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.All in the household believed, so all received the Holy Ghost. Again, this is another instance where they had not been baptized yet, but received the Holy Spirit, so we can see that there are a number of instances in Scripture to disprove the cultic teaching that baptism grants one the Holy Spirit.
[v45] And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.Both Jews and Gentiles had heard the Word of God in the household, and both received the Holy Ghost because of their belief.
[v46] For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,Speaking in languages they did not know, but were known to other men. What they uttered were truths said to one another that were given to them by God through His Spirit. This is far separate from the commonly known "speaking in tongues," the jibberish of the new-age charismatics.
(Read "Speaking in Tongues" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
[v47] Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?Peter was speaking to his fellow Jewish people in the house; helping them to understand that, in the end, no man is worthy of God, but God has been merciful unto all. (Rom 9:15)
[v48] And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.They made a humble request that he would stay with them for a few days, that they might learn from him more of Christ's doctrine, and that they could be properly guided into the operation of the New Testament church.