I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.
A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.
If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Knowing the Way of God More Accurately.” What a difference it makes!
Verses 1-3 — After Paul spoke at the Areopagus, he left Athens and went to Corinth. He was still ministering alone.
And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus in Turkey, and his wife, Priscilla. He had been living in Rome, but the Jews had just been forced to leave, by the Edict of Claudius. So Paul came to them.
They were tentmakers, and that was Paul’s trade, so he stayed and worked with them.
Verse 4 — As usual, Paul reasoned from the scriptures in the synagogue every Sabbath, persuading the Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ. My NASB says, “trying to persuade,” but that is not in the original Greek. He was more successful than the NASB editors were willing to agree upon. Hmmm!
Verse 5 — Paul had to work for wages, in order to live. But now, here came Silas and Timothy, from Macedonia. And suddenly, Paul was able to devote himself completely to the word (the Gospel and its proclamation), testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
Why was he suddenly able?
Silas and Timothy brought offerings! Look at what he writes later, to the church he planted at Corinth —
2Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.
So, now Paul no longer needed to work at tent-making, and was able to devote himself full-time to spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Oh, beloved, that is why we need to give to missions, and properly supply our pastors financially —
1Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
Verse 6 — Some of the Jews to whom Paul testified resisted and blasphemed. So he shook out his garments (for their rejection of the Gospel) and said, Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.
What did Paul mean about blood on their own heads? This —
Ezekiel 33:7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. 8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.
Verse 7 — Then he left and went to Titius Justus’ home, which was right next door to the synagogue. He was a worshiper of God (a Roman convert to Judaism). His personal name, given by his parents, was Gaius. You can read more about him in Romans 16:23.
Verse 8 — Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Because he was so well known, many of the Corinthians, were believing and being baptized, when they heard of Crispus’ had become a believer into Jesus Christ!
Beloved, believing into Christ creates such an immediate and visible change in us that simply converting to Christianity is enough to convince others that Jesus is the Christ, and they repent of their sins and believe! Have you experienced that immediate and visible change?
Verses 9-10 — And the Lord encouraged Paul! In a night vision, He said, Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.
How wonderful those words must have been to Paul! The synagogue leader was converted, as were many others. And THEN Jesus spoke these words to Paul, to encourage him to continue. There are no sweeter words to a missionary, whether our field is the Internet or we are sent out to another country. Jesus always has many people, wherever He sends you!
Verse 11 — Paul remained in Corinth for 1-1/2 years. It was a chief city of what was called the “Achaian League” of city/states. People from many nations traveled through nearby ports on the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. Many smaller ships were moved by wooden rollers across the isthmus on which Corinth was situated. What a great place to preach the gospel!
Verses 12-13 — But trouble was brewing, during the time Gallio was proconsul of Achaia! The Jews, with one accord, rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat of the proconsul. They said, Paul persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.
[Not so, for Christ is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17)!]
Verses 14-16 — When Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews that if Paul had done wrong or had done a vicious crime, he would have to bear with the Jews. But they were accusing Paul about words and names and their own law.
Therefore, he was unwilling to judge Paul, and said they needed to attend to the matter themselves. Then he drove them away from the judgment seat!
Verse 17 — So the Jews took hold of Sosthenes, who very likely co-led the synagogue with Crispus. They beat him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio paid no attention.
Verse 18 — Many days later, Paul took leave of the brethren in Corinth, and sailed to Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.
In Cenchrea he had his hair cut in order to keep a vow. This would refer to a Nazirite-like vow he had taken earlier, which was now complete. Nazirites did not take a razor to their hair until the Lord showed them their vow was completed (Numbers 6:2 and forward). At the end of that time, they would present their cut hair as a sacrifice to God.
Why would Paul have done this very Jewish act? He was Jewish! It was simply an outward sign of what he had vowed in his heart. What did he vow? Probably that he would not stop speaking of what he had seen and heard, regardless of persecution.
Verses 19-22— They came to Ephesus, and he parted from Priscilla and Aquila there. He entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews, as usual. But when they asked him to stay longer, he did not consent, but left, saying, I will return to you again if God wills.
Then he set sail from Ephesus to Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.
Verse 23 — After he spent time in Antioch, he went through the Galatian and Phyrgian regions, strengthening the disciples. As usual, they were fiercely persecuted, and Paul’s presence and words encouraged and strengthened them.
Verse 24 — These last few verses are especially good stuff! Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria. He was an eloquent man — a fluent orator. He came to Ephesus. Apollos was mighty (powerful, capable) in the scriptures.
Verse 25 — He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. He was a well-taught Christian. He was fervent (hot) in spirit. And he spoke and taught accurately (perfectly) about Jesus and the Gospel. But he was only acquainted (he only (comprehended, understood) the baptism of John. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, as Paul explained to the Ephesians he met on his travels, who had been baptized with John’s baptism —
Acts 19:3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “ Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “ John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men.
What did this powerful, fluent orator, well taught, on fire, and accurate teacher lack? The same as the men from Ephesus!
Verse 26 — He began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they knew what he needed! They took him aside, and “explained (declared and expounded) to him the way of God more accurately (exactly, perfectly).”
Ah! They could tell by listening to him that he had not been filled with the Spirit. So, they told him about the baptism of the Holy Spirit — Jesus’ baptism! And though it is not stated in this passage, it becomes obvious in the next two verses that something wonderful happened in Apollos!
Verse 27 — When he wanted to go to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples in Achaia to welcome him. Prior to this change in Apollos, they had not encouraged him to set out on a missionary journey.
And when he arrived in Achaia, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace (the divine influence on the heart and the reflection in the life)!
How did he help? By powerfully (intensely and mightily) refuting the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Apollos had something he didn’t have before! Now he not only knew about Jesus, but Jesus and the Father were in him, and He was filled! The result? He was able to powerfully reason in the Scriptures, just as the Spirit-filled Paul and Peter and John and the rest had done. And he surely was shining with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son, who dwelled in Him!
Beloved, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you go to a meeting, and hear a preacher, you can tell if that one has been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Though they may be silver-tongued, powerful in speech, on fire for Jesus and extremely accurate, it is impossible to teach the things of God in the power of God and with authenticity, unless God has filled you with His Holy Spirit!
When you are filled, the Spirit teaches you all things (John 16:13-15), and you preach it as one who has experienced what you’re preaching. It is authentic and unmistakable.
And that is what is needed in today’s church. If we are to be the church, we must have men and women in the pulpit who have been filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they will be able to greatly help in the harvest.
The fields are white, the hour is late! So if you are filled with the Spirit, speak kindly to your pastor of this more accurate way of God. If they are like Apollos, they will jump at the opportunity to obtain God’s power!
And so will you! Beloved, you yourself need this power! Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)!
You may not be called to the pulpit, but you are called to speak the Gospel wherever you go. By your words and by His divine nature in you and by the authenticity of your words, they will know you have been with Jesus! And they will be drawn to Him! That’s what it is to be the church!