Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Greeks

The trains of thought, Passover to Pentecost to Persecution and Things Paul Taught, are coming together in this post.  In Acts 21:21 Paul was in trouble in Jerusalem and was talking to an angary crowd when he mentions that he was sent to the Greeks.  Jesus had told him that he was to go to them and preach the Word.  The crowd went crazy and Paul would be sent off to Rome.

Paul’s part in the Great Commission was the non-Jewish world.  The Twelve eventually went but they were not going very fast “to all the world” and they seem to think that only people who believed in the Law were worthy of God.  The death of Stephen had started moving disciples out of Jerusalem but the Twelve did not seem like they were going to leave their comfort zone.

Antioch was the church that really started bringing in non-Jews.  It would be Paul’s base church for his missionary journeys.  It would have the appearance of being the second most important church in Christianity for many years.  There are several stories in Acts/ New Testament that take place in Antioch.

I have often wondered why Jesus would call Paul when He had trained the Apostles to do the job?  I have come to think that it is because Paul could/would do the Great Commission with Grace in mind!  I have to wonder if Paul’s extensive schooling in the Law and his life as a Pharisee opened his eyes to the fact that the Law could not be kept.  He understood his sin against Jesus very well so he knew the true mercy that the Messiah had.  Matthew and Peter should have had that revelation: Matthew was a hated tax collector and Peter denied Jesus and got to talk to Cornelius and his family. It seems that Paul alone had the strength and understanding to see beyond the Law into Grace and what actually was finished at the cross.

I am not trying to discount what the Apostles did, but as a group they had several “red flag” moments: Mark 8:14-21 when they forgot bread, Mark 9:34 they argued about who was greatest, and other times when they just did not get it.  Their reluctance to go to non-Jews is possible another example of them not see clearly.  It might seem that their closeness to Jesus clouded their eyes to what was really needed, maybe they felt they “had all the truth”.

Paul, on the other hand, understood the traditions of his religion but saw clearly the freedom the cross brought to mankind.  For him, teaching Greeks and pagans about Jesus was done with the knowledge that Jesus had completed the Law.  But many times, in Acts his teaching with his freedom in Jesus upset both Jews and pagans.  It is a shame to see we have slipped back to wrong thinking!  We will uphold our religious thoughts and favorite doctrines before fellowshipping in Jesus.

Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Ananias

Ananias – Jah has favored or covered.  I like to start studies by looking up the meanings of names of people and places.  Sometimes the name reflects what is happening in the story, this time it seems like a split decision on how well these three men fit the name.  This a variant of several Old Testament names.

Ananias the Liar Acts 5:1

Ananias and his wife Sapphira are only remembered for their creed and lying to the Holy Spirit.  The value of this passage is not that they dropped dead, but that attempting to deceive the Spirit will not get you where you want to go!  In the context of its position in the book you have to wonder why it happened. Certainly, people have and are doing acts similar or worse today.

It is very easy for me to believe that Ananias was attempting to become a leaderin this church.  It is easy to imagine that a great deal of resources was starting to be available to the church as it grew in numbers.  Luke sandwiches this story with Barnabas (4:37), mighty miracles, a showdown with the religious government, and then talks about a new level of leaders that would control a great amount of resources (6:1).

There are similarities between Ananias and Simon, the witch, in 8:9 – 25.  Simon was a threat to the work in Samaria because he saw the Baptism in the Spirit as a money maker.  If Simon could wield this gift people may be favorable to his needs and wants because once again he would be someone of importance.

The mystery here is the final outcome is not mentioned like it was with Ananias.  Grace has to let me think he turned out okay!  Unlike Ananias, Luke mentions that he believed and was baptized (8:13), was astonished by real miracles, and asked for forgiveness (24).  I want to think Simon saw his mistake and was not willing to mock the Spirit once his error was pointed out to him.  Sounds like the Gospel at work to me.

Ananias of Damascus  Acts – Chapter 9 and 22:12

This man may be the most underrated person in the Bible.  Yes, I have heard sermons about him but this study opened my eyes to his great qualities!  In 9:12 Jesus sent him because He knew he would go.  Ananias had to overcome come his fears to lay hands on Saul/Paul.  It is reasonable to believe that he was also Paul’s first tutor and mentor in the Way.  Ananias was important enough that Paul shared this story with Luke.  In 22:12 Paul again talks about Ananias and praises him for his faith in Jesus and his faithfulness to the traditions he had grown up with.  This is the second time that Luke records about him and Paul was bragging on him to a hostile crowd. This is what we know; now let us think of some possibilities.

Ananias may have gone to Damascus because of the persecution after Stephen’s death.  But it is possible that he just lived there. Damascus is close to Galilee so it is possible that he heard Jesus speak around the lake.  It is also possible that he was among the 3000 on the day of Pentecost.  He may have been a leader of the Way in Damascus.  At the very least people knew him and trusted him (Paul would have only been accepted because of someone like him).

Ananias the High Priest – Acts Chapter 23 – 26

As honorable as Ananias of Damascus was this one is not!  As a member of the High Priest family it is very probable that he was present for the death of Jesus, Pentecost, the trials of the Apostles, and the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of the Way!  He may have even been the one who gave Saul permission to go to Damascus. Control is the issueI see as the problem the Sadducees had with Jesus and His followers.  They had a good moneymaker in the Temple and they did not want anyone to disturb their income.

Among his questionable acts: ordering Paul struck, and agreeing to the killing of Paul (at least twice). He played loose and fast with the rules and it is probable that he could justified everything he did under some rule in the Law.


Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Peter

Acts 12: 1-18 Peter’s escape from prison.  It seems that I missed a very important New Testament Passover.  Herod was trying to please the Jews and decided to kill the Apostles.  This took place during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover).

Imagine Peter seating in jail waiting to be killed.  All of the thoughts that must have been going through his mind: The Last Supper, the Garden, the rooster, and the morning on the Lake when Jesus questioned his love three times.  No wonder he thought the angel was just a dream!

This story brings in John Mark (writer of the Gospel and Peter’s nephew) as a witness to many things in story of the New Church.  It does not say that Mark left with Peter just that Peter very wisely got out of town. The James (Book of James)  in verse 17 is Jesus’ brother who must have already been very important in leading the new church.

Rhoda and those praying are frequently the stars of this story for all the wrong reasons.  The group was praying (supposedly for Peter), Jesus released him and they could not believe the miracle had happened as they had prayed for.

There is no time stamp to tell us how many years since Pentecost this story took place.  So, if I was doing a movie of this I would put the sixteen soldiers who were executed because of the disappearance as the ones who beat Jesus and gambled for His clothes and arrested the Apostles the first time.

John 7 – Jesus’ Timetable

John 7

Sometimes when you are studying one thing something else catches your attention, this is one of those things – John 7.  It is not part of the Passover to Pentecost time period but comes several months after Shavuot or Pentecost.   All of the crops are in, and this is an important event for the Jews that commemorates the forty years of the Exodus.  It is one of three Feasts that everyone was to go to Jerusalem and celebrate.

Part of the reason John would put this in his Book (v. 1 – 5) is to show the change in Jesus’ earthly family after the Resurrection, they were in the Upper Room praying with the rest of the disciples instead of doubting.  You need to remember that Jesus would still have a victory ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, so His time was not ready.  Jesus was not going to be pushed into doing things out of the timing of the Father.

In verse fourteen, of chapter 7, “halfway” into the Feast would have been the fourth day and was between two sacred assemblies.  There were specific offerings for each day see (Numbers 29: 12 – 40).  John 7: 37 places the rest of the chapter on the last day, but all of the way to chapter 10: 21 seems to be in this general time period.  If John 8:1 is correct it may have occurred the next day after the Feast.

John 10: 21 – 42 is the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah which is in December, so there is a time gap.  But one thing that stands out in these three chapters is the number of times they were going to apprehend Jesus or stone Him, remember “His time had not yet come.”  Much of this rage is because of miracles, challenging their practices, and claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah.  THE important thing that Jesus stated in most of these conversations and is very important for us today is who gets the glory and the credit for the miracles.  Jesus gave the glory to the Father!

I realize that Jesus is His name and that Christ is a title; so, there are times when one should be used over the other.  It just seems that too many preachers forget to use the name, Jesus. Paul in his writings will use the terms Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus; there is a subtle difference here that our society seems to forget.  Jesus Christ is “man-God” while Christ Jesus is “God-man.” (Sorry, I forget where I first read this; it may have been in Vine’s Dictionary.)  If someone is not/can not use the name Jesus, properly, I suggest you RUN.  It is amazing how many people use the name of Jesus as a point of authority when cursing but do not believe in Him.

Week 8 – The Holy Spirit

This set of post is about the Holy Spirit.  #4- 7 are the four Hebrew words that relate how the Spirit came on people in the Old Testament.

  1. Day of Pentecost
  2. The First We Knew of the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
  3. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Moses
  4. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Hȃyȃ
  5. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Lȃbash
  6. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Mālē
  7. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Tsȃlach
  8. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Isaiah
  9. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Ezekiel
  10. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – David
  11. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Joel, Micah, Zechariah