From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/19:

Paul warns the Corinthians not to judge one another or boast in themselves as they have all received a gift that no one earned; the Holy Spirit and salvation by grace through faith. Paul describes his life and the lives of those truly following Christ, which is quite the opposite of the fake, showy religious crowds who love praise and public platforms – “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.”

Therefore, Paul implores the Corinthians not to be haughty but to imitate him. And since Paul can’t be there with them, he has sent Timothy, “who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”

Paul rebukes the Corinthians for allowing a man who was sleeping with his stepmom to remain in the church. Paul tells them to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” So the purpose of church discipline is ultimately for the spiritual good of the one being disciplined as well as the welfare of the ones inside the church. Allowing unrepentant sin to continue could negatively influence others as “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

Paul goes on to tell them to “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Paul explains that sex is to be within the boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman. And the husband and wife do not need to deprive one another of sex “so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

In addition, Paul tells them not to divorce, even if they are married to an unbeliever – “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy…For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” God is the one who saves; however, Paul is saying that the believer’s life has a positive impact on the children and can lead the spouse to faith. Therefore, your marriage and your spouse’s salvation are something to entrust to the Lord.

Paul says there are advantages to not being married, as the unmarried have fewer distractions and can therefore be more focused on worship and missions. However, Paul encourages everyone to be content with where they are when called by the Lord, regardless of the situation, married or not.

Tomorrow, more from Paul to the Corinthians. Keep reading.

(1 Corinthians 4:1-7:40)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/18:

Today Aquila and Priscilla meet a Jewish man named Apollos, “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures,” who preaches the Lord boldly in Ephesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. When Aquila and Priscilla hear him, they take him aside and explain to him the way of God more accurately, probably teaching of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Apollos travels through Achaia to the church in Corinth where he refutes “the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”

When Paul arrives in Ephesus, he baptizes twelve disciples of John in the name of Jesus. “And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”

In Ephesus, God works unusual miracles at the hand of Paul. When some Jewish exorcists try to imitate the works of Paul by attempting to cast out evil spirits in the name of Jesus, an evil spirit responds to them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” The evil spirits are fully aware of the ones who are a threat to them, Jesus and Paul; but they are uninterested in the ones who do not belong to Jesus. And since the exorcists do not have a true relationship with Jesus Christ, they are overpowered by the evil spirit. “This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

From Ephesus, Paul writes a letter to the church in Corinth, based on a report he receives saying that the church is experiencing division due to the arrogance of the more influential members, social elitism in the church, as well as sexual immorality. There is also confusion on marriage and divorce, participation in pagan religions, the design of corporate worship, and the bodily resurrection of Christians.

In Paul’s letter, he urges the Corinthians to be set apart as one in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. He tells them not to argue over who baptized whom, as our power does not come from any man but through Christ and by the gift of the Holy Spirit, who reveals all things spiritual to us. Paul explains that no man should boast in himself, as all that we have is a gift from the Lord:

  • “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’”
  • “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Since Paul and Apollos are just ministers of the Lord through whom the new converts believed, Paul tells them that they do not need to quarrel over which one baptized them. Paul explains to them how sharing the Gospel works – ”I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor… For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Tomorrow more from Paul to the Corinthians. Keep reading.

(Acts 18:24-19:20,1 Corinthians 1:1-3:18)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/17:

Today Paul concludes his first letter to the church in Thessalonica with several closing remarks; one being “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

A few months after his first letter, Paul writes another letter from Corinth to the Thessalonians. In this letter, Paul explains that the second coming of Jesus Christ has not yet occurred. Although the church is experiencing persecution, Paul tells them this is not the tribulation that will occur on the day of Christ.

Paul exhorts them not to be “shaken in mind or troubled” by the false teaching concerning the Lord’s second coming. He says that before the coming of Christ, there will be a massive departure from true faith in the Lord and the Antichrist will appear, claiming to be God. The power which has been restraining Satan will be removed, revealing Satan at the Lord’s perfect timing. Ultimately the deceiver and all those deceived will be destroyed. – ”For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 

Paul encourages the church by saying, “God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle… the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”

Paul ends the letter by instructing them all to do their share of the work load and not to grow weary doing good but to admonish those who do not obey the word.

In Corinth, Paul continues to preach that Jesus is the Christ in the synagogue to the Jews. When the Jews oppose Paul, Paul says from now on he will go to the Gentiles. So Paul goes to the house of Justus, which is next to the synagogue, and continues preaching. “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” 

“Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.’ And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

“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.” Paul leaves Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus to do the work of the ministry. Then Paul travels on, landing back at the church in Antioch. “After he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”

Tomorrow we will read about Paul’s third missionary journey, so keep reading.

(1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-3:18, Acts 18:4-23)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/16:

While in Athens, Paul’s spirit is provoked when he sees all the idolatry in the city. Paul says, “For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” 

Paul tells the people to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man who He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” And when they hear of the resurrection of the dead, some mock Peter but some believe and join him.

After Paul leaves Athens, he goes to Corinth where he spends much of his time during his second missionary journey. There he meets Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, who are tentmakers like Paul. Paul stays with them, and while in Corinth he writes two letters to the church in Thessalonica.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul commends them for their faith and reminds them of his first visit – “For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”

Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica after the rioters dragged Jason (Paul’s host) before the Roman leaders accusing him of rebelling against Caesar. Out of concern for the church, Paul sent Timothy to check on the Thessalonians and report back to him. Timothy reports that things are going relatively well but some have died and since they didn’t fully understand resurrection, they thought that the ones who died would miss out on Jesus’ second coming; therefore, they were in great mourning. The Thessalonians were also questioning the timing of the return of Jesus. Paul focuses on writing about Jesus’ second coming in his letter, as he mentions it in every chapter of the book. Paul assures the Thessalonians that the Lord’s wrath will not be poured upon the believers on the day of His return, and that their salvation in Christ is sealed. Paul says both the dead and the living are destined to be saved in the second coming.

Paul explains that the souls of the ones who died will come down from heaven when Christ returns, and their bodies will be resurrected and reunited with their souls. Since no one knows when Jesus will return, Paul tells the Christians not to be like the pagan unbelievers, the ones in the dark who are walking in the flesh involved in all sorts of sexual immorality and refusing to work, depending upon the wealthy to provide for them. He encourages them to stay awake and sober because that day is going to come like a thief in the night for the unbelievers. “But you, brethren, are not in the darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

We will read Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians tomorrow, so keep reading.

(Acts 17:16-18:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5:11)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/15:

The council agrees to James’ recommendations regarding the Gentiles and sends a letter to the church in Antioch. Representatives from the church in Jerusalem, Judas and Silas, accompany Barnabas and Paul to Antioch. When the letter is read confirming that the Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised but should “abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality,” there is great rejoicing over its encouragement.

Some days after reading the letter, Paul and Barnabas get into a heated debate about whether or not to take Mark with them on their next missionary journey. Paul does not want to take Mark because he deserted them on their first missionary journey. However, Barnabas is insistent that he goes with them. This dispute becomes so intense that Paul and Barnabas separate, with Paul taking Silas to churches in Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas taking Mark to churches in Cyprus. Therefore, the Lord uses this conflict to further the spread of the gospel by doubling their labor efforts.

On Paul’s second missionary journey he meets Timothy, a young man well respected and full of faith because of the influence of his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy is not circumcised because his father is Greek, but since his mother is Jewish, Timothy is considered Jewish. Therefore Paul has him circumcised before they begin their mission work together in order to not offend the Jews. Then “they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.”

During their journeys, Paul receives a vision which leads him and his companions to the city Philippi in Macedonia. There they meet Lydia who, as well as her entire household, converts to Christianity after hearing Paul share the gospel. She then convinces Paul and his companions to stay at her home.

Trouble soon arises when Paul casts a spirit with predictive powers out of a slave girl. Her masters, who were profiting from her, are not too happy about losing their means to get rich. So they bring Paul and Silas before the magistrates who beat them and throw them in prison. However, the Lord rescues them, and the keeper of the prison and his entire family come to faith through the miraculous rescue.

Once released, they continue their mission work. In Thessalonica, Paul preaches Jesus Christ. “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.’ And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.”

So we see that the unbelievers, the ones walking in the flesh and darkness, gather in mobs causing riots and uproar, troubling the people and authorities. However, the believers, the ones walking in the light and the Spirit, are said to have “turned the world upside down”, simply by preaching the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 

Paul and Silas flee to Berea where they once again go into the synagogue and preach. “Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.”

Tomorrow Paul preaches in Athens and then travels to Corinth where he writes letters to the church of the Thessalonians. Keep reading.

(Acts 15:22-17:15)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/14:

Paul tells the Galatians that through faith in Jesus Christ we are all equal – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul goes on to say that we are no longer slaves to the law but adopted as sons and daughters; heirs of God through Christ.

Paul warns the Galatians of the fake religious crowds who form their own little clicks to manipulate the people. Paul says not to cave into that immature nonsense but to stay focused on the Lord at all times – “They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always.”

Paul goes on to explain the freedom that is found in Christ by saying that Abraham had two sons; Ishmael, born through flesh by Abraham’s bondservant, Hagar, and Isaac, born through the promise by the freewoman, Abraham’s wife, Sarah. These two sons are symbolic of the two covenants; one (Ishmael), born out of unbelief by Sarah scheming and having Abraham sleep with her servant Hagar, represents the covenant of the law, which those of unbelief are still operating under the bondage of the law. The other son (Isaac), who was born out of faith by Abraham and Sarah, represents the freedom found in the new covenant through the promised Son, Jesus Christ. Paul exhorts the Christians to walk in the freedom of the new covenant- “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Paul addresses circumcision, the symbolic act of the old covenant God made with Abraham. He tells the Galatians that they are no longer bound to circumcision under the new covenant –  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails to anything, but faith working through love… For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

Through Christ we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul instructs the Galatians to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh which is opposed to the Spirit. He continues by comparing the works of the flesh to the works of the Spirit – “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Paul encourages the Christians not to grow weary doing good “for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

However, as the dispute about circumcision grows, Paul and Barnabas travel to Jerusalem, where they stand before the council in 49 AD reporting all that the Lord has done with them.“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.’”

After much debate, Peter stands up and says that God knows the hearts and He saved the Gentiles who had faith in His Son and gave them the Holy Spirit the same as He did with the believing Jews. He questions why they are testing God by putting a yoke on the Gentiles with the law that even the forefathers nor they could bear. Peter explains that all are saved through grace by faith in Christ. 

Then Paul and Barnabas declare how many miracles and wonders God has worked through them among the Gentiles. James, Jesus’ brother, also comes to the defense of the Gentiles saying even the prophets wrote about their salvation. Then James proposes a solution – “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” James is agreeing that they should not be under Mosaic Law, but they also shouldn’t be offensive to the Jewish community out of love for the church. So James suggests the Gentiles follow three rules related to the Jewish dietary traditions and one rule related to sexual sin, which is prevalent among the pagans.  

Tomorrow we hear the ruling of the council and tension arises between Paul and Barnabas. Keep reading.

(Galatians 3:24-6:18, Acts 15:1-21)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/13:

After Derbe, Paul and Barnabas return to the churches they previously visited, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’”

Paul and Barnabas report back to the church that sent them out at Antioch in Syria all that the Lord has done, “and that He had opened the doors of faith to the Gentiles. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.”

During their stay at their home church in Antioch, shortly before the apostolic council in Jerusalem in 49 AD, Paul writes a letter to the churches of Galatia. Since Paul has left the church in Galatia, the church has been infiltrated by men teaching a false doctrine which was troubling the new believers. These legalistic Jews are teaching that you have to be circumcised in order to be saved, trying to convert the Gentile believers to adhere to Jewish laws. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter is to confirm that we are justified by faith alone, apart from works of the law. Paul wants to preserve the true Gospel that was revealed to him by Christ, that we are saved by grace through faith alone, and stop this false gospel that first you have to do these works, such as circumcision, in order to be saved.

Paul talks about the time he confronted Peter for not eating with the Gentiles in front of certain Jewish Christians, threatening the teaching that we are all one in Christ, Jews and Gentiles. Paul goes on to say, “And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

Paul explains that he has died to his old way of life, which was seeking justification through the impossible obedience of the burdensome Jewish law, so that he might live to God. Therefore, Paul now lives a joyful life that is pleasing to the Lord, not by relying on his works but by faith in Christ. Paul says, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Paul illustrates our salvation by faith versus works by taking them back to the first Patriarch, Abraham. Abraham was declared righteous in Genesis 15:6 because of his belief, thirteen years before the rite of circumcision was introduced and four hundred and thirty years before the Law of Moses was given. So Paul makes the point that “only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”

The law was given as part of God’s plan, and God knew that no man could perfectly obey the law because of our sinful nature. The law exposes our sinful nature and our need for a Savior. Therefore, also as part of God’s plan, God sent His Son, Who lived a perfect life in perfect obedience to the law, to die for us so that we may be justified through faith in Him, Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow, Paul further explains the freedom in Christ in his letter to the Galatians. Keep reading.

(Acts 14:21-28, Galatians 1:1-3:23)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/12:

An angel of the Lord rescues Peter from prison. Then Peter goes to the house of Mary, Mark’s mother, where people are gathered to pray. When Rhoda hears that it’s Peter at the door, she runs to tell the others but they respond saying, “You are beside yourself!” They can’t believe that the prayers they have been praying for Peter were actually heard and answered. “Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” Peter says to go and tell James, Jesus’ brother, and the others that the Lord delivered him from Herod. James, who once was not a believer, came to faith when he saw his brother Jesus resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:7); he will go on to become a leader in the Jerusalem church.

While Herod sat on his throne receiving glory from the people, the Lord strikes him “because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God grew and multiplied.” Herod had his own plans for his own political gain of persecuting Christians and stopping the growth of the church to increase his popularity. However, nothing will stop the plans of the Lord as written in Proverbs 19:21 – “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but the purpose of the Lord will stand.” In spite of Herod’s attempts to shut down Christianity, the word of God grew and multiplied, which is often the case when Christians come under persecution. 

Over in the church at Antioch, we see the process the Lord uses for selecting missionaries. The leaders pray and fast, and the Holy Spirit separates Barnabas and Saul, also called Paul, “for the work to which I have called them… Then having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

So Barnabas and Paul go out, and everywhere they go they preach the word of God in the synagogues until they get run out by unbelieving Jews. When the rulers in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia ask them if they have a word of exhortation for the people, Paul stands up and shares Jesus the same way Jesus revealed Himself to the men on the road to Emmaus, the same way Stephen defended his faith before the Jewish council, and the same way Philip explained Christ to the Ethiopian eunuch. Paul tells the story of the Bible beginning with their fathers, who dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, to the Exodus Era with their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, to the Conquest Era where they conquered and settled into the promised land, to the Judges Era where for roughly four hundred and fifty years the Israelites lived out seven sin cycles, and Paul lands on the Kingdom Era with King David – “From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”

Paul teaches of Jesus’ death and resurrection and tells them, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

On the next sabbath at Antioch in Pisidia, practically the entire city shows up to hear the word of God. “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.’…Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Once again we see when people hear the story of Jesus, hearts are set on fire. Some burn in love and repentance and some burn in jealousy and anger. And depending on how your heart burns for Christ, in love and repentance or in jealousy and anger, He either saves you or condemns you. The ones with hearts burning in anger try to attack and kill Paul and Barnabas, so they leave, and wherever they go they preach in the synagogues. While in Lystria, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium track them down and stone Paul, leaving him for dead, but Paul does not die. “And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.” 

[Summary of Paul’s missionary journeys from the book 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders:

1 – Galatia for 2 years (Acts 13-14)

2 – Greece for 3 years (Acts 15-17)

3 – Asia for 4 years (Acts 18-21)

4 – Roman prison for 2 years (Acts 22-28)]

Tomorrow concludes the first missionary journey and Paul writes a letter to the churches of Galatia. Keep reading.

(Acts 12:6-14:20)

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From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/11:

Cornelius, a Gentile commander of the Roman army who is “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always”, receives a vision from the Lord, telling him to send men to Joppa where Peter is staying.

The next day, Peter also receives a vision from the Lord. In his vision are all sorts of animals which the Lord instructs Peter to kill and eat. Peter responds, “Not so Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” But God responds, “‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ This was done three times.”

According to the ESV Study Bible, “God was overturning the old clean/unclean distinctions and dietary laws in general, along with all other ‘ceremonial’ laws in the Mosaic covenant (including laws about sacrifices, festivals and special days, and circumcision). Nothing like this was to get in the way of fellowship with Gentiles, as Galatians 2 also shows.” 

Therefore, when Cornelius’ men arrive and ask Peter to come to the home of a  Gentile, Peter goes. When Peter arrives, Cornelius falls to his feet to worship him. Peter responds, “‘Stand up; I myself am also a man.’ And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’”

Peter goes on to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. ”While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also… And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”

“Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, ‘You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!’” Peter explains to his brethren what happened and concludes saying, “‘If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?’ When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”

The church in Jerusalem receives news of the great number of people, both Jews and Gentiles, who were coming to faith in Antioch. So they send Barnabas to Antioch where he encourages “them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” 

“Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” 

However, many hate the Christians and Herod knows this. So for his own personal and political gain he kills “James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.” 

Although Herod is killing Christians, and is trying to stop the growth of the church and the spread of the word of God for self-serving political purposes, nothing can stop the plans of the Lord. Tomorrow we will see the Lord’s plans prevail. Keep reading.

(Acts 10:1-12:5)

#bibleliteracymovement #chronologicalbibleteaching

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 11/10:

“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles…As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” 

So the Lord uses persecution to scatter his disciples and to further the spread of the gospel. Philip, one of the seven selected to serve in the church in Jerusalem, goes to Samaria where he preaches Christ to them. Multitudes receive Christ and are baptized resulting in great joy in the city. When Peter and John hear the good news, they come to Samaria to pray over the people that they may receive the Holy Spirit. One man, Simon a sorcerer, offers them cash for the Holy Spirit. Peter rebukes him saying, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” So Simon asks Peter to pray for him.

Then an angel tells Philip to go south on a road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip, prompted by the Holy Spirit, leaves the masses who are coming to Christ and goes out into the desert for a divine appointment with an individual. There Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch returning from worshipping in Jerusalem. When Philip comes near his chariot, he finds the man reading the words of Isaiah and he asks him if he understands. The Ethiopian responds, “‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’… Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” The Ethiopian eunuch goes on to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and is baptized by Philip. 

While all these wonderful things in the name of Jesus are happening, Saul is still “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” That is until he encounters Jesus on a road to Damascus. Jesus calls out, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Then Saul asks two important questions: 1) “Who are you Lord?” 2) “Lord, what do You want me to do?” 

Then Jesus gives Saul the next step. He says, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Jesus blinds him for three days. “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”

The Lord appears to Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, and tells him to go to Saul and lay hands on him so that he may receive his sight. However, this disciple is afraid because he has heard reports of Saul persecuting Christians. “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’”

Ananias obeys the Lord, and Saul receives his sight, is filled with the Holy Spirit, and is baptized. Once Saul receives food and is strengthened, “Immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” And when the Jews try to kill Saul for preaching Jesus, his new brothers in Christ hide him.

Saul flees to Jerusalem where he meets Barnabas and the apostles. Saul shares his story with them and begins preaching Jesus in Jerusalem. “And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.” Saul will remain in his hometown of Tarsus for about ten years before Barnabas will go and get him to join him in ministry. 

Tomorrow Peter receives a vision from the Lord, resulting in more Gentiles joining the kingdom of God. Keep reading.

(Acts 8:1b-9:43)

#bibleliteracymovement #chronologicalbibleteaching