Bible Study – Acts of the Apostles

Sunday School Bible Study in 2018 presented by John Green.  The Acts of the Apostles.

Acts of the Apostles –  Acts 1

The author of this book is Luke.  He was not an apostle.  Unlike many of the apostles of Jesus, his occupation was a doctor or physician. (Colossians 4:14)  He was a devoted companion of Paul (Colossians 4:14, Philemon 1:24 and 2 Timothy 4:11).  Based on his name and his Greek writing style and cultural perspectives, Luke was a gentile and not a Jew.

Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven

1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 

The book of Acts is written to Theophilus and us.  There are numerous thoughts of who this man was but none are conclusive.  The name means “Friend of God” which is a Greek name but this man is believed to be a first century Roman official who was given this name when he was saved.

Together the books of Luke and Acts make up more than 30 percent of the New Testament.  The book of Acts is believed to be a sequel to the first book.  The book of Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus.  (Luke 24:50-53)  It appears that Luke is writing this book as a historical account of the birth of the Church.  Based on what we read in Luke 24 and these first few verses, Luke was not an eyewitness to these events so it was a secondhand account of these events.  He used the pronouns, they and them.

1:3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 Luke starts off confirming that Jesus truly died and was alive.  He gives examples and stated that Jesus appeared over 40 days and said that Jesus even ate with them.  He confirmed the prophecy of John the Baptist had come true? (Luke 3:16) John baptized with water and Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

1:6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,and to the ends of the earth.”

This question asked by Jesus’ disciples tells us that they had not learned very much throughout their time with Jesus.  They still thought Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom.  Jesus did not give them an absolute answer.  He told them that it was for them to know the time or date when that would happen.  He answered them with a key verse of Christian Evangelism / sharing Jesus.  We have heard sermons on the last words of Christ such as, “I thirst”, “Father forgive them” and “It is finished”.  Acts 1:8 or “to the ends of the earth” are really the last words of Christ.

1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Next, Jesus was taken up on a cloud.  This was the last or final appearance of the Lord after His resurrection.  The ascension took place in the vicinity of Bethany.  (Luke 24:45-53)  Two angels appeared to those watching the ascension.  They tell the “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

1:12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

 

When they got back to the upper room in Jerusalem, they prayed constantly.  This list of disciples was not the same as one listed in Luke 6:14-16.  The list in Luke included Judas Iscariot but now Judas was dead.  Remember he is documenting for historical purposes.  So having the list of disciples present would be historically accurate.

1:15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas,who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our numberand shared in our ministry.”

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their languageAkeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:  “‘May his place be deserted;  let there be no one to dwell in it,’  and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

There were 120 believers present at this gathering.  This is not believed to be all of the believers at this time.  Peter stood up as the leader.  Peter would have been nervous.  He was a fisherman and would not have been accustomed to speaking in front of people.  Peter starts with talking about Judas and what the Scriptures through King David had to say about Judas and his demise.  He quoted Psalm 69:25 to tell what would become of the Field of Blood, the land that Judas purchased with the 30 pieces of silver.  He quoted Psalm 109:8 to tell what their next step was.

Originally Jesus chose 12 disciples.  Judas hung himself after giving Jesus over to the Sanhedrin.  Now they needed to select a replacement.

1:23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 

24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Since they had two candidates to take Judas place, they prayed and then cast lots to determine which man would take Judas place.

The following verses tell us about casting lots or about why they were used.

Proverbs 18:18                King Solomon – ends a dispute

Joshua 18:10                     Joshua distributes the land when the Hebrew nation took Israel

I Samuel 14:38-45           Should King Saul attack an army that included his son Jonathan.

Leviticus 16:6-10            The choice of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement

Jonah 1:7                             Jonah – to decide who was at fault for the storm.

Matthias was chosen as the new 12th disciple.

Acts of the Apostles –  Acts 2

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

As Pastor Brian says The important things in the Bible occur on one of the Jewish festivals.  The Day of Pentecost occurs on the Jewish festival, Feast of Weeks.  It originally celebrated the giving of the Law/Ten Commandments to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai.  It was celebrated on the 50th day after Passover.  (Leviticus 23:15-21)  Pentecost means 50th Day in Hellenistic Judaism.  It occurs Post Barley and Pre-Wheat harvest.  In 2019, Passover will occur on 19-April 2019 and Pentecost will occur 8-June 2019.  Pentecost is a new covenant that celebrates the birth of the church or when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples.

Here at the beginning of the Church we find the Christians or believers together in one place.   The source of the rushing wind was Heaven.  The word for ‘wind’ is ‘pneuma’  which is the same word used by Jesus to explain the Holy Spirit to Nicodemus.   John 3:7-8

2:3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”

The Holy Spirit appeared to the believers in the house As a tongue of fire on each of them.  This signified that they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The following verses tell us about the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:15           John the Baptist will be filled with the HS before he is born

Luke 1:35            Mary and the Virgin birth

Luke 3:22            Jesus baptism

Matthew 3:11   John the Baptist – baptism with water vs the Holy Spirit

John 14:16-17   Jesus tells about the HS coming the Advocate

John 16:7b          Jesus says He must leave so the HS can come

John 16:13-14   More details about the coming of the HS

2:4b “and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

“These were languages that they were never taught, and they spoke these languages, speaking as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Guzik

We know that they were not speaking in a new strange language by this verse because it says they began to speak in OTHER tongues.

The Greek word for ‘other’ used here is ‘heterais’.  The word ‘heterais’ is also used in the following verses.  The following verses do not refer to something new but just another of something that already exists.

Ephesians 3:5               other generations

Luke 4:43                        other towns

“Galileans had difficulty pronouncing gutturals and had the habit of swallowing syllables when speaking; so they were looked down upon by the people of Jerusalem as being provincial.” (Longenecker)

There were so many different Jews speaking different languages in Jerusalem because it was the Festival of the Weeks.  If you look into Israel’s history all of Israel and Judea were exiled.  When captured, they were sent all over the middle east, so they learned other languages.  Luke listed all of the different people that present to verify that there were more than just a few languages.

The people around them think that those believers speaking in tongues are drunk.  We know that the speakers are speaking in tongues and not the hearers are hearing in tongues because Luke told us that only the Holy Spirit came on the speakers/ believers and not all of Jerusalem.  They were trying to explain the supernatural with something they could understand.

Peter Addresses the Crowd

2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Here we see Peter stand up and start to speak.  Peter said that they weren’t drunk “It is 9 in the morning.”  This was prophesied about in the Old Testament (Book of the Law).  As Jews, they would have heard these scriptures.  Peter quoted the Prophet Joel.  This prophecy was about the End times.  This verse talks about supernatural events occur at the end times.  Peter would have been like us.  He looked at the times they were living in and believed it must be the end times.

God meets Peter where he is.  These were not believers.  They were devout Jews.  The verse ends with “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Does this sound like a perfect time for an altar call?

2:22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Peter says “miracles, wonders and signs” were used by Jesus in His earthly ministry.  Peter credited those listening to his sermon with the crucifixion of Jesus.  Peter did not sugar coat his message, he even called them wicked.  This doesn’t sound like someone trying to convince them to become converts.  “You killed Jesus!”  Even today, we helped killed Christ.  Mel Gibson felt that he contributed to the crucifixion of Christ.  So much so, that his hand appears in the Passion of the Christ holding the hammer and pounding in the nails.   Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  According to Peter, this was not by accident, it was according to God’s plan and foreknowledge.

Peter moves right on to the Resurrection.  He didn’t prove it, he just proclaimed it.  Peter quotes David in Psalm 16:8-11 show that these verses were not about him but this was a prophecy about the coming Christ or Messiah.  Peter says that David died and was buried and his tomb is here to this day.  David was a Shepherd and King but Peter credits David with being a Prophet.  According to Peter, if the prophecy was about David, his body would not have decayed and wouldn’t still be in the tomb.  Peter is making Jesus the unifying link between the Old and New Testaments.  Peter uses another reference from the Psalms (Psalm 110:1) to point out that not only was Jesus the Christ or Messiah but that He was sitting at the right hand of God.  In verse 36, Peter puts it all together for them.  “ God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.

The source of Peter’s knowledge about who Jesus was in Matthew 16:13-17 was God and the source of Peter’s knowledge about who Jesus was in these verses was the Holy Spirit.  These sources are the same.

2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Those who heard Peter’s message were moved by the Holy Spirit or cut to the heart.  You must respond to the Gospel message.  You can either accept it and move closer to God or reject it and your heart is hardened to it.  Peter tells them to repent and be baptized.  Peter told these men that they had put the Messiah to death.  Yet there is room at the cross for them.

Peter says in verse 39 that the promise of God is for “You and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  About 3000 accepted the message and were baptized that day.

The Fellowship of the Believers

2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The final six verses in Chapter 2 give us a blueprint of the things that a church should be doing.  From these verses we can make a list of these things.

Studying God’s word

Fellowshipping

Eating together

Prayer

Spending time together

Sharing property and wealth with anyone in need.

Meeting together in church

Eating together in their homes

Praising God

Enjoying their time together

As a result, God blessed their number

Acts of the Apostles –  Acts 3

Peter Heals a Lame Beggar

3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Obedient Jews in Jesus day went to the Temple to pray three (3) times a day.  They prayed during the morning sacrifice, during the afternoon sacrifice and at sunset.  Peter and John were entering the Temple with plans of worshiping and praying and were most likely not looking for an opportunity to witness.  They encountered a Beggar who was lame.  This tell us that as we go through our daily lives, we should expect to have the opportunity to share the Gospel.

Earlier this year Terry and I went to hear Dr. David Jeremiah speak.  During his sermon, he talked about the beggars that were sitting outside the arena.  He said that it was important that we SEE them.   Peter and John looked directly at him.   The first thing that Peter said to the man was “Look at us!”

3:6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

I can’t imagine that Peter’s response was what the beggar expected.  Peter told him “I don’t have money but I can make you walk.”  Peter then helped him up.  Peter gave credit for the healing to Jesus Christ.  Peter, John and the beggar went into the temple courts.  This was significant because a person with a defect was not allowed into the temple.  Leviticus 21:16-18  This man probably hadn’t ever gone inside the temple courts.  The people that recognized the beggar were filled with wonder and amazement.  Put yourself in their place.  What would be your response?

Peter Speaks to the Onlookers

3:11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.

Why did Peter say that they shouldn’t be so surprised?  How does this compare to Acts 2:22?

The onlookers should have seen or at least heard about Jesus.  They are the same.

3:13b “You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Peter charges them with putting Jesus to death but credits God with raising Him back to life.  This is the same as in Acts 2:23-24.  This approach seems counterintuitive.  In verse 16, Peter gives credit to God/Jesus for his strength and the healing of the lame beggar.

Peter was not afraid to confront their sin, and he shows amazing boldness. “One commentator says that the miracle of the speech of Peter is a far more wonderful one than the miracle wrought in the healing of the man who lay at the Beautiful Gate.” (Morgan)

3:17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets,saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’

In verse 17, Peter says the root cause for them putting Jesus to death was the ignorance of them and their leaders.  Peter is explaining to these Jews that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ who was foretold by the Prophets.  Peter calls on these Jews to repent.  This means more than apologizing but it is a change in their lives.

“Repentance does not describe being sorry, but describes the act of turning around. And as he used it in chapter two, here also Peter makes repent a word of hope. You have done wrong, but you can turn around to get it right with God!” (Guzik)

Peter keeps going back to the Old Testament/Book of the Law.  In this case he quoted Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19 to show that Moses prophecied about Jesus as the prophet and if they didn’t listen to him, they would be cutoff or destroyed. (NASB).  The Greek word used here is ‘exolethreuō’ and it means to be “utterly destroyed”.  It is only used once in the Bible.

These religious Jews had to be thinking Peter was a fisherman.  Acts 4:13 says “they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

3:24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Peter starts in these verses with the Prophet Samuel.  He then connected them with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the covenants that God made with them.  He pointed out that they were heirs of the promises made by God through the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah.  Finally, he connected Abraham to Jesus and the initial or first offering of salvation was given to the Jews.

“Just as the lame man was hindered by expecting something from God, but expecting the wrong thing, so it was with the Jewish people at this time. They were expecting the Messiah, but not the right kind of Messiah. They were looking for a political Messiah, not one to turn every one of you from your iniquities. Are you expecting the right things from God today?” (Guzik)

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