Thursday, November 10, 2011

Notes from Bible Study: Acts 21:15-40

Below are my notes from last night's Bible study. We discussed Acts 21:15-40, though most of our time was spent trying to figure out if Paul, James and the elders in Jerusalem were correct in asking Paul to accompany the four men into the Temple to participate in the Mosaic Nazarite vow. Was it sinful for Christians to participate in the bloody sacrifices required by that vow (see Numbers 6)? Was Paul compromising the message of the Gospel by again becoming a slave to the Law? Or was he simply becoming a Jew to the Jews so that he may win over the Jews? Was he becoming as one under the Law to win over those who were under the Law? (1 Cor. 9:20) In any case, Paul was providentially hindered from actually offering the blood sacrifices, due to the crowd being stirred up against him and the ensuing riot. One of the most interesting, and difficult passages in Acts, in my opinion! Here are my notes:

Bible Study
Acts 21:15-40
November 9, 2011

Verse 15
we packed and went up to Jerusalem. They could not dissuade Paul from going, but they would not let him go alone. See John 11:16, “Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

Verse 16
Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple. Apparently, he owned a home in Jerusalem and graciously opened it to Paul and his company. The NKJV translate “an early disciple” but the old KJV says and “old disciple”. If he was converted on the Day of Pentecost, it is close to 25 years since that time. Or perhaps one who had been converted through the preaching of the Gospel at Cyprus, Acts 13:4, “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Verse 17
the brethren received us gladly. The word used to receiving gladly was used in Acts 2:41, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”. NOTE: You cannot welcome the apostles without welcoming their teaching.

Verse 18
James. Since no other apostle is named, it is likely that the rest had left Jerusalem to preach in other places.

all the elders were present. This is a session meeting to deal with a specific matter.

Verse 19
those things which God had done. Paul is careful not to take credit for the work God has done. He is the instrument, God the worker. NOTE: This should be an encouragement to ministers: It is our duty to do as God has told us, and He will use us as He sees fit.

Verse 20
how many myriads of Jews. “Myriads” means not thousands, but 10s of thousands. Compare with Acts 1:15, “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty)”. In Jerusalem alone, there had been a multiplication of at least 100 times in the last 20 years! See Romans 11:1, 5, 7, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin....Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace....What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

they are all zealous for the law. As the Gentiles were wont to give up their old ways, so the Jews were wont to give up their customs, which now had all been fulfilled in Christ.

Verse 21
you teach all the forsake Moses. Was this true? No! Of course not! Paul taught Christians (Jew and Greek) that Christ had fulfilled the Law, he had enlightened their understanding of it, and now used it to instruct them in righteousness! Romans 7:4, “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.1 Cor. 9:20, “and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;

Verse 24
pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads. The vow they had taken was the Nazarite vow (see Numbers 6). See also Paul in Cenchrea, Acts 18:18, “So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.

Verse 27
when the seven days were almost ended. Note, these events take place BEFORE any blood sacrifice could be offered. God’s mercy to Paul?

the Jews from Asia. These Jews were the ones who attend the Temple worship the least, because the lived far from Jerusalem, and yet they appear the most zealous for the Temple!

Verse 28
crying out. “What is wanting in reason is made up in noise.” (Matthew Henry)

the law. But what Paul actually taught was “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)

and this place. The same charge which Paul had been compliant in, against Stephen. See Acts 6:13, “They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;’

Verse 30
all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together. The Jews show the same zeal for the Temple in Jerusalem as the Ephesians did for the Temple of Diana. See Acts 19:29, 32, “So the whole city was filled with confusion...Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together

dragged him out of the temple. They condemned Paul for drawing people from the temple, and yet, when he himself was very devoutly worshiping in the temple, they drew him out of it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reformation OC Conference: Audio of Rev. Stark's The Lord's Day Sabbath: Precious Jewel of Puritan Practice

Rev. David Stark
A lot of the recordings from sessions at the Reformation OC Conference are now available at the Conference's web site. Here is one more of those sessions: Rev. David Th. Stark on "The Lord's Day Sabbath: Precious Jewel of Puritan Practice." It is an exhortation for Christians on the keeping of the Sabbath Day. Enjoy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reformation OC Conference: Audio of Rev. Stark's Preservation of Scripture

Rev. David Stark (left)
Below is a link to the audio (MP3) of Rev. David Stark's first presentation at the Reformation OC Conference on the topic "Preservation of Scripture: A Lost Doctrine of the Reformation?". In his presentation, he addresses differences between the traditional (Textus Receptus) and critical (Nestle-UBS) texts of the Greek Text of the New Testament. He bases his defense of the Textus Receptus on biblical presuppositions concerning Scripture. In other words, this is a presuppositional apologetic for the Textus Receptus.

Bible Study Notes Acts 21:1-14

Below are my notes from this week's Wednesday Night Bible Study on Acts 21:1-14. We ended up spending most of our time talking about prophecy and the modern church and not so much time on these notes, but, hey, that's OK! It was a great discussion!

Bible Study
Acts 21:1-14

November 2, 2011

Verse 1
Cos. The birthplace of Hippocrates (from whom we have the Hippocratic oath!)

Rhodes. Famous for its Colossus. Interesting Note: The statue, which stood for 56 years, fell during an earthquake in 226 BC. The massive statue (107ft high) lay on the ground for over 800 years--which means it would have been there when Paul came to Rhodes. Further interesting note: The Oracle at Delphi (Remember Paul at Philippi in Acts 16:16, and the demon possessed girl there, who was a servant of Pythos, the Greek mythological earth-dragon of Delphi) made the residents of Rhodes afraid they had offended Helios, so they never rebuilt it.

Verse 3
Tyre. See Luke 10:13-14, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.

Verse 4
And finding disciples. Note that where ever Paul went, he enquired as to there being disciples there and then associated with them. A good example for us!

seven days. Paul had also stayed seven days in Troas (Acts 20:6, “But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.”). Why? At least partly so he could be there at least one Lord’s Day with the church!

They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought Paul’s troubles to be conditionally prophecied--that is, if he goes to Jerusalem, chains await him. See 1 Sam 23:9-13, “9 When David knew that Saul plotted evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 Then David said, “O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. 11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will deliver you.” 13 So David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah and went wherever they could go. Then it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; so he halted the expedition.

Verse 7
Ptolemais. Thought to be the same city as that of Acco mentioned in Judges 1:31, “Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob.

Verse 8
Philip. One of the seven deacons mentioned in Acts 6:5, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,” who had preached to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26ff, “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.” and who settled in Caesarea, according to Acts 8:40, “But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.” Who, having served well as a deacon, had earned himself a good standing, etc as in 1 Tim 3:13, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

the evangelist. See Eph. 4:11, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” and 2 Tim 4:5, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Caesarea. Spoken of in Acts 10:1ff, “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment” and Acts 18:22, “And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up and greeted the church, he went down to Antioch

Verse 9
four virgin daughters who prophesied. See the promise of such things in Joel 2:28, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” which Peter quoted in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost in  Acts 2:17, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” which is now fulfilled here with Philip’s daughters as one example.

prophesied. Not by expounding the prophecies or word of God (see 1 Cor 14:34, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.” and 1 Tim 2:12, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”) but by foretelling things to come (see Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17 above).

Verse 10
Agabus. See Agabus when he came from Jerusalem to Antioch in Acts 11:28, “Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.

Verse 11
took Paul’s belt. Such physical signs commonly accompanied prophecies in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 20:2, “at the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.Jer. 13:1, “Thus the LORD said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.”Ezek 12:5, “Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry your belongings out through it.” Especially Jer 27:2, “Thus says the LORD to me: ‘Make for yourselves bonds and yokes, and put them on your neck,

into the hands of the Gentiles. I find this most curious, since the Gentiles are who Paul seeks to minister to! How can it be a bad thing, then, if he is delivered into their hands?

Verse 14
The will of the Lord be done. See Matt 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” and Luke 11:2, “So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” for Lord’s Prayer references. See also Matt. 26:42, “Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, ‘ My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.’” and Luke 22:42, “saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”