Peter’s Vision, part 2 & Gentiles Hear the Good News

GOSPEL MEDITATION #33

Acts 10:17-43

Peter’s Vision part 2 & Gentiles Hear the Good News

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. While Peter was perplexed by the vision he saw, emissaries from Cornelius arrived at the door of Simon the tanner.
  8. Peter is expressly told to go with the men from Caesarea. Peter even invited these men in to stay over night. Amazing!
  9. Arriving in Caesarea, 30 miles north of Joppa, Peter enters the home of Cornelius and finds a gathering of Cornelius’ relatives and close friends. Cornelius begins to “worship” Peter, but Peter “makes of himself of no reputation.” (Phil. 2:7, KJV)
  10. Cornelius explains to Peter the events leading up to that moment and invites Peter to speak to them all “in the presence of God” all Peter had been commanded by the Lord.
  11. Peter, a man steeped in Judaism and Jewish culture, sees that God is far more generous than he imagined to the point of caring for those who fear Him. And Cornelius, a God-fearer, desired to know more of the God of Israel.
  12. Here now is a wonderfully condensed account of the Gospel ti be found in Scripture. Did Luke condense the words of Peter to the bare minimum? We cannot know the answer.
  13. “God anointed Jesus”—for a Gentile this is the same as Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah for a Jew.
  14. The message is “good news” because it means that sinners, including Gentiles, can be forgiven. The means of which is Jesus’ dying on the cross followed by His resurrection.

Peter and Cornelius & Peter’s Vision, part 1

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 32

Acts 10:1-16

Peter & Cornelius & Peter’s Vision, part 1

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Caesarea, 30 miles NW of Joppa, given by Julius Caesar in 47 BC to Herod the Great who built it into a magnificent city; the Roman governors, (like Pilate) of Judea lived there.
  8. Cornelius, a Gentile, one of the commanders of the Italian Cohort (1/6 to 1/10th of a legion) commanded 100 soldiers. He was a God fearer; he worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  9. He prayed to God, gave alms, was well respected, and God heard his prayer.
  10. At 3pm, one of the three traditional times of Jewish prayer, he has a vision. He is mindful and awake—no trance state. An angel gives him instructions—he is to send for Peter in Joppa.
  11. Peter, amazingly is actually staying with Simon the tanner, against all Jewish sensibilities. Religious and cultural walls are coming down.
  12. Peter, in Joppa, at noon time, another time of Jewish time of prayer, has a vision also. Again Peter is fully aware, and he sees something like a “great sheet” being lowered with animals, reptiles, and birds in it. This happens three times.
  13. Peter hears a voice telling him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” And Peter protests, much like the Prophet Ezekiel did per Ezekiel 4:14.
  14. In both Deuteronomy 14 and Leviticus 11 is listed clean and unclean animals. As a Jewish man, Peter is not allowed to eat certain “unclean” creatures he sees in the vision.
  15. Then, in the midst of Peter’s protest, God reveals to him, “What God has made clean, do not call common,” which echoes what we find in Mark 7:19. Cornelius the Gentile, is clean.

The Healing of Aeneas & Dorcas Restored to Life-Acts 9:32-43

GOSPEL MEDITATION #31

The Healing of Aeneas & Dorcas Restored to Life

Acts 9:32-43

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Luke’s story returns now to Peter. Likely Peter, returning to Jerusalem after he and John investigated the events surrounding Philip’s Samaritan mission, evangelized on his way home. At Lyyda, formerly Lod, NW of Jerusalem, Peter encounters a man named Aeneas, a believer, paralyzed for either 8 years or since he was 8 years old.
  8. Aeneas is healed, by Jesus, and as a result “all” but meaning “many” are converted. (Consult a map to view region.)
  9. Tabitha (Hebrew name) or Dorcas (Greek name) and both mean Gazelle, living in Joppa, dies. She is called a “disciple” and we note Aeneas was not so designated. (Joppa, also knows as Jaffe, is in the environs of Tel-Aviv.
  10. She was prepared for burial, absent the usual anointing with oil, and her body was placed in an “upper room”—an open air but covered rooftop room, common in that period.
  11. Peter is in Lydda, a 3 hour walk from Joppa. The believers in Joppa are aware of Peter’s closeness and send 2 men to ask him to come to Lydda.
  12. Peter encounters “widows” and these are likely considered poor, and for which Dorcas had given gifts to, which garments they were then wearing.
  13. Peter put these all “outside,” just as Jesus had done in the case of the daughter of Jairus (see Mark 5), getting on his knees (Jewish men usually prayed standing), said to the “body” “Tabitha arise.” With Jairus’ daughter’s case, Jesus said, “Talitha arise.” Talitha means young girl. We note in Mark 5 that Peter, James, and John were present then.

Saul/Paul’s adventures after his conversion. Acts 9:19b-31

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 30

Acts 9:19b-31

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues & Saul Escapes from Damascus & Saul in Jerusalem

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Paul is “some days” in Damascus and immediately begins presenting Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, thus showing that the Messiah, Jesus, is fully deity.
  8. Paul has to flea now since the Hellenistic Jews in Damascus understood the import of Paul’s message.
  9. “His disciples”—we see this in verse 25 indicating that Paul has attracted others around him. These would support him and see to his well being.
  10. At this point, according to Galatians 1:11-23, Paul goes into Arabia, the ancient Nabataean kingdom, for some period of time. Luke does not present this short departure.
  11. Luke now jumps to Paul’s visit to Jerusalem, also found in Gal. 1, and “attempts” to join with the disciples there.
  12. The early and original disciples, with the apostles, were yet afraid of Paul. This is curious and Luke does not explain their reluctance.
  13. Now Luke brings in Barnabas. He was introduced in Acts 4:36 and now we find Barnabas instrumental in making reconciliation with the church in Jerusalem and Paul. Indeed Barnabas lives up to his nickname, Son of Encouragement.
  14. Paul is boldly preaching Jesus now right in the midst of those who were antagonistic to him. Again, Paul’s enemies want to kill him.
  15. The “brothers” direct Paul to Caesarea and then onto his home in Tarsus. The church grows via the Holy Spirit.

 

The Conversion of Saul, Acts 9:1-19a, part 1

GOSPEL MEDITATION #29

Acts 9:1-19a

The Conversion of Saul, part 1

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. We can only wonder at the extreme reaction Saul/Paul had toward the followers of Jesus. Were we that way as well?
  8. There were about 10 synagogues in Damascus at that time; Paul needed the commission of the Council of Israel, which they gave to him. The Sanhedrin was in crisis mode.
  9. On the road to Damascus (Syria), a light from heaven flashes around Paul; God is present right there.
  10. “Why?” Paul are you persecuting Me. To persecute the disciples of Jesus is to persecute Jesus Himself. We are His body after all. (see1 Corinthians 12:27)
  11. Paul’s travelling companions also heard the voice, now utterly stunned, they lead blind Paul into the city.
  12. Ananias, a disciple, God also speaks to in a vision (orama in the Greek), not a trance state, likely while in prayer. He receives instructions about Paul, but he is reluctant since he has heard about the evil Paul was doing.
  13. God’s ways are not our ways, and He has plans for this persecutor. His commission of this “chosen instrument” will be three-fold: preach to Gentiles, kings, and to the “children of Israel.”
  14. Ananias obeys, comes to Paul, lays hands on him, which shows fellowship and a setting aside, a common Jewish practice, and Paul experiences conversion.
  15. At once Paul is baptized. Wish we knew more of this.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 28

Acts 8:26-40

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or chant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The “deacon” Philip serves as an evangelist, now is sent by the Holy Spirit of God away to a desert place, near Gaza, to the road that leads south to Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
  8. He comes across an official of the government of Ethiopia (Cush in the O.T., also Nubia centuries before) that is ruled by a Candace (Kandake) the mother of the king. He is returning from Jerusalem (probably a God-fearer like Cornelius the Roman centurion-Acts 10).
  9. The Eunuch is in a chariot, covered wagon type, and is reading the scroll of Isaiah, in fact, reading the passage about the suffering servant of Israel, Isaiah chapter 53.
  10. Philip shows him the passage is about Jesus, which would go to the heart of the Gospel message. The eunuch believes.
  11. Quite apparently part of Philip’s message had to do with baptism, something Jesus has commanded to be done as in Matthew 28:19-20.
  12. As a eunuch he would not have been able even to enter the Temple (see Dt.23:1) but as Isaiah 56:3-5 shows, nothing prevents the eunuch from being baptized.
  13. Verse 37, as found in the KJV, is not original to Acts and rightfully does not appear in the ESV as also most others.
  14. Philip and the eunuch go down into the water and Philip baptizes him. Here we see that others than apostles baptize.
  15. In a way which we do not understand, the Spirit carries Philip away, and the eunuch continues home rejoicing—thus Luke showing a genuine conversion.

16.       Philip continues to his home-Caesarea. (Acts 21:8-9.)

Simon the Magician Believes Acts 8:9-25

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 27

Acts 8:9-25

Simon the Magician Believes

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The “deacon” Philip preaching in Samaria, comes across one Simon, a magician (Simon Magus) or sorcerer, who captivated many with his powerful magic. This is not slight-of-hand, but demonically powered magic.
  8. Many trust in Jesus and are baptized, including Simon. Here is the Biblical pattern, evangelism, which focuses on Jesus, conversions follow immediately, and the new believers are baptized.
  9. The apostles in Jerusalem hear of this and send Peter and John to Samaria. (Remember John, one of the sons of thunder had wanted Jesus to send down fire on Samaritans.)
  10. Peter and John prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. This is not easily understood. Maybe the apostles expected what had happened to them on the Day of Pentecost to take place with the new Samaritan believers. It is unclear, but the apostles lay hands on and the result is the Holy Spirit was received. Did they speak in tongues, praise God?
  11. Simon observes the proceedings and wants this power and attempts to buy it. (He still has the heart of an occultist.)
  12. Peter is not impressed and sharply rebukes Simon. Peter’s words indicate he does not think that Simon is born again—this point is arguable—but Peter does give Simon an opportunity to repent.
  13. Simon’s answer indicates he still is clinging to magical thinking—wanting Peter to pray for him.

 

Saul Ravages the Church & Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 26

Acts 8:1-8

Saul Ravages the Church

and

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

 

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. After Stephen is killed and caused a “great lamentation” among the believers in Jesus—normal when loss occurs.
  8. The religious authorities turn their attention to the fledgling Church, and lead by an outraged Saul/Paul, much chaos is generated among the believers. The result is a scattering of Jesus’ followers throughout the region, and as they went, they were “preaching the word.” These are the un-named evangelists.
  9. Philip, one of the Seven, not the apostle, goes to Samaria, an area where he would not be welcome.
  10. Philip preached to the Samaritans that Jesus was the Messiah and crowds heard him gladly, surprisingly.
  11. Luke tells us that the hearers were highly impressed by seeing the signs Philip was going. (Perhaps Philip was among the “72” Jesus sent out as recorded in Luke 10.)
  12. Then we recall the time Jesus visited Samaria and the impact there as recorded in John 4. (Luke would not have known about John’s Gospel.)
  13. “Unclean spirits” came out of many Luke tells us. The impact of this would have been dramatic—ancient peoples suffered mightily from demonic oppression and possession and were virtually powerless over such evil forces. Something utterly new is seen now.
  14. Also, many were healed, and of serious organic physical conditions. This is an account of a real awakening, noted throughout Christian history as the Samaritan Awakening.
  15. There was “much joy” in Samaria.

 

The Stoning of Stephen, Acts 7:54-60

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 25
The Stoning of Stephen
Acts 7:54-60
1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
7. Stephen now faces what he knew was coming—his execution by stoning per Leviticus 24:10-16.
8. Stephen did not soften the Gospel message before the Council of Israel. It takes courage to be courageous.
9. “Cut to the heart”—these leaders were angered beyond measure just like Paul (Saul) was per Acts 9:1-5. Were we like that as well? Are lost people still this way today?
10. In the face of death, and of a savage kind, Stephen has his eyes upon Jesus, which may be what “full of the Holy Spirit” means in verse 55.
11. “Heaven opened” is likely an idiom, a saying that would have been understood by Stephen’s executioners. We have Stephen seeing Jesus “standing” and not “sitting”, which reveals a high Christology. (see Matthew 26:64)
12. The religious leaders cannot bear to here Stephen’s words so with one mind (thumadon in the Greek), they rush to kill Stephen. Desperate people indeed.
13. Luke introduces Saul now, who is our Paul, and reveals his role in the stoning of Stephen. (See 1 Timothy 1:15)
14. At the point where Stephen is at the gate of death, he beholds Jesus and says, “receive my spirit.” This is a common expression meaning that someone is about to die.
15. Then, reminiscent of his Lord, Stephen asks the sin of the elders of Israel not be held against them, just as Jesus had done. (see Luke 23:34)
16. Stephen “fell asleep” – a way of saying he died.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

GOSPEL MEDITATION

Romans 3:19-26 & 1 John 1:5-2:2

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

  1. Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.
  6. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. “For all have sinned” is where it all starts. The testimony of both Old and New Testaments is that we have broken God’s commandments and therefore cannot have fellowship with Him, now and forever.
  8. The intent of God however, is that we enjoy His presence forever—Paradise regained—thus He acts to do what we cannot do.
  9. The Gospel must begin with our terrible condition but it then goes on to the mercy of God.
  10. Jesus Himself, Emmanuel, God with us, takes the death we deserve upon Himself on the cross. In a way we do not understand (we use words like love, grace, mercy) we are completely and forever forgiven and given as a result, the gift of eternal life—and all without our doing anything at all.
  11. Notice all our sin is gone, past, present, and future sin. But what about out future sin, how is it forgiven?
  12. Though it will never be fully understood, all of our sin was nailed to the cross. Yes, it is beyond us. But that it is what Scripture clearly teaches. How then do we deal with our ongoing sin? The Apostle John tell us in 1 John.
  13. We do continue to sin, daily, hourly, minutely. There is no help in denying this. We are to confess our sin, sin already forgiven, but which weighs on us nevertheless. We see that the Father is the wise counselor, psychiatrist, and healer.