The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 9:26-43 – Week 14 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 9:26-43

Week 14

Rob Covell

Introduction – As we complete Acts Chapter 9, we come to end of the season of the first persecution of believers with Saul being converted and moving on to Jerusalem from Damascus and then to Tarsus. At this time, we see the Lord beginning a process of maturing Saul that will span 10 years and will re-launch Saul on his first missionary journey with Barnabas.

In this session we will also see Barnabas moving as a prophetic encourager to Saul, and modeling essence of the prophetic ministry to us. Barnabas teaches us how to contend for the destinies of one another, as he contends for Saul and stands in the gap for him by vouching for his conversion and introducing him to the Apostles in Jerusalem.

As we end Chapter 9, we see Peter modeling the highest level of kingdom power and authority that we have seen thus far in the book of Acts. We will receive from Peter tonight keys in declaration, confidence in Jesus, and kingdom authority. My hope for us in this session is to gain a greater appetite for the supernatural and a renewed perspective regarding the gospel of the kingdom.

Acts 9:26

a) Saul had such a radical conversion but with no history being a disciple, the disciples in Jerusalem did not believe that his conversion was real. The text says Saul tried to join the disciples, but he was held in suspicion by them.

b) The disciples were afraid of Saul because of his tremendously violent history of persecuting the Church in Jerusalem and all around Judea. Saul’s intimate knowledge and connection with the Sanhedrin, and the High Priest, Annas were barriers for Saul’s acceptance. The last fact that the Church in Jerusalem knew concerning Saul was his letter from Annas to persecute believers in Damascus and his approval of Stephen’s martyrdom.

c) Perseverance proves a disciple. James 1:4 – Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – There is a season of consistency in regards to our walk with Jesus that confirms our faith in Jesus Christ to others. Saul was on the front end of this season.

Acts 9:27-28

a) Barnabas – Son of Prophecy/Exhortation. (Hebrew root NABIY) – Barnabas was the cousin of John Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. He was from Cyprus, which had a large contingency of Jews living there in the First Century. Barnabas came alongside Paul/Saul early in his walk with Christ and advocated for him. Paul and Barnabas also had a sharp disagreement which separated them from fellowship, that was eventually mended. Barnabas related to people through the eyes of destiny and we see him interacting on the behalf of another to bring about God’s highest purpose for that person. Barnabas was a Levite, which adds to the proof that many priests became obedient to the Gospel. See Acts 6:7

b) Barnabas is an example of those who come alongside and disciple, encourage and contend for the destinies of others. Barnabas introduces Saul/Paul to the apostles in Jerusalem and gives Saul a good report. These apostles were most likely, James (Jesus’ Half-Brother), John, and Peter. We all need people like Barnabas who will accept us and walk us with through long seasons of friendship and loving commitment. Barnabas was concerned about Saul/Paul for 10 years before their first missionary journey in 44AD. It was approximately AD 34-35 at this time.

c) Saul/Paul is accepted by the Community and Saul continues his bold presentations of Jesus being Messiah. It is important to note that Saul is not credited with salvations or power ministry at this time. The internal evidence in the text shows us that Saul had an intellectual grasp on the Person of Jesus, but was not moving in the works of love and power that prove the message of the gospel. That will come later in Paul’s ministry as he matures. Right now, he a great apologist for Jesus, but will eventually mature to be an amazing apostle. It is unfortunate that many in the Christian faith today have nothing more than the argumentative intellectual assent to the truth of Jesus Christ, but lack the ability or even the faith to attempt to do His works.

Acts 9:29-30

a) Saul approaches the same group that brought heresy charges against Stephen. The Hellenized Jews were the ones who in Acts 6:9 brought Stephen to trial in the Sanhedrin. Saul seeks them out because he knows them and is indebted to Stephen because he presided over his death.

b) These people responded to Saul the same way they responded to Stephen. They plotted to kill him! This same satanic spirit of persecution and the spirit of religion was operating at a shockingly high level in those who rejected Jesus.

c) John 12:37-50 – Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn— and I would heal them.”

d) The disciples send Saul to Tarsus, located in modern day Turkey today. Barnabas and Saul re-unite when Barnabas goes to look for Saul in Tarsus some 10 years later. See Acts 11:25. Saul was born in Tarsus, but raised in Jerusalem. Saul probably had family in Tarsus and many scholars believe that there was a small contingent of Christians there who would accepted Saul. This transition begins a silent period in Saul’s life, but he alludes to this time period of his life in Galatians Chapter 1. We do know that during this time Saul was is a season of encountering the Lord, receiving the revelation of the essential Christian doctrine and maturing in Jesus.

Acts 9:31

a) The initial persecution that began with the martyrdom of Stephen had subsided and now the Church in that region began to experience a time of rest. The Church had overcome by their testimony and the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 12:11 – “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” The Church overcame the vicious satanic attack from the spirit of persecution and the spirit of religion by not wavering in the persecution. There would be more persecutions to come in the future as we study Acts, but for now they experience a season of rest and triumph over the enemy.

b) We see specific ministries of the Holy Spirit in regards to the Church collective. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Church by bringing the revelation of Jesus, the truth of Jesus and the distribution of gifts and power encounters to the Church. The Greek word for “strengthened/built up” is OIKODOMEŌ and means to build up a structure from a foundation, i.e. build a structure, a metaphor for being built into a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2:5 tells us we are “living stones, being built into a spiritual house/temple”.

c) The Holy Spirit comforted the Church. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Helper in John 14. The primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to help us, counsel us, to show us truth, and remind us of the things Jesus said. See John 14 and 16. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be with us and in us.

d) An evidence that the Holy Spirit is active in a Community of believers is as follows: church growth and the reverence of God (fear of the Lord/worship). The fear of the Lord is an indicator of spiritual health and spiritual power.

Acts 9:32-35

a) Peter travels to Lydda. This city is located near modern day Tel Aviv, Israel. Peter is continuing to minister to the Jews and is becoming the Apostle to the Jews, while Saul/Paul is becoming the Apostle to the Gentiles. See Galatians 2:7-8. Peter travels there to strengthen the Church in Lydda.

b) This is an amazing miracle. Aeneas means “laudable/praiseworthy”. Aeneas has been paralyzed for 8 years. 8 in Scripture is number for new beginnings, and sign of the Covenant. In the eighth year of his condition Aeneas gets a new beginning from the Lord Jesus.

c) Let’s look at the following movements in Aeneas’ healing. Peter declares in the authority of Jesus and does not pray or petition the Lord for the healing. Peter declares from a place of confidence and from the center of the will of the Lord. Peter was fully convinced Jesus wanted to heal Aeneas. Peter gives Aeneas a directive and a faith agreement opportunity to respond to the healing Jesus desires to give Aeneas by telling him to “get up and take care of your mat”.

d) Aeneas agrees in faith by proving it with acting on Peter’s declaration and is healed.

e) Healings, signs and wonders are for the express purpose of turning people to Jesus Christ. Power ministry proves our message and proves the love of God for people.

Acts 9:36-38

a) Tabitha/Dorcas/Gazelle models the ministry of mercy and helps (1 Corinthians 12:28) and her death grieves the Community in Joppa. Joppa is a coastal city on the Mediterranean Sea. Joppa was considered the “port of Jerusalem” and was an important center of commerce in that region.

b) The Church has the faith that Tabitha can be raised from the dead and asks Peter to come. The healing miracle of Aeneas had encouraged this Community to believe for this resurrection. Building on the power of testimony, brings greater testimonies because faith is being increased. See Hebrews 11:33-35.

c) Notice the Jewish burial customs in regards to Tabitha’s body.

Acts 9:39

a) It is apparent that Tabitha was loved by the Community at Joppa because of their grief over her death. Death is an injustice and a judgment originating from our Fall in Eden. Satan the original murderer, murdered the whole of humanity when Adam and Eve agreed with his lies. John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades and this resurrection miracle is about to prove that true.

Acts 9:40-43

a) Notice the parallels between Peter’s actions in this encounter and Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:40-42. Peter follows the example of the Lord in this dead raising encounter.

b) Peter declares life to Tabitha’s dead body. Peter does not pray but moves in Kingdom authority by declaring “on earth as it is in heaven”. Peter demonstrates to us trust in Jesus’ words, kingdom authority, and the power of the gospel in this encounter. Peter heard Jesus say (Matthew 10:8) “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give”.

c) What we are beginning to see as we travel through the book of Acts, is a clear of what the gospel of the kingdom looks like in fullness. Again we see signs and wonders bearing fruit for the Kingdom, as many in Joppa believe in Jesus through this amazing display of spiritual power and the love God in raising Tabitha from the dead.

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Acts of the Apostles – Acts 9:1-25 – Week 13 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 9:1-25

Week 13

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will begin Acts Chapter 9 and continue in the transitional period of Church History where the persecutions in Jerusalem continue the expansion of the Church all across Judea, Samaria and Syria.
This is an exciting chapter because we witness the explosive conversion of Saul, and the naturally supernatural faith of Ananias who ministered to Saul after his encounter with the resurrected and glorified Jesus on the road to Damascus.
We will also learn about the common history and the culture surrounding the text in Acts Chapter 9, and we will begin to see how Saul’s faith walk in Jesus Christ starts from being an immature converted Pharisee to a mature spiritual father and radical revivalist of his later years. The book of Acts shows in a veiled way the process and journey of God in the lives of His people, and from that revelation we can enter the same type of walk with the Lord that will birth the maturity of our destinies in Him.

Acts 9:1-2

a) Saul – The Pharisee disciple of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and persecutor of the Church who would be converted by a radical encounter with Jesus in this chapter. Saul means “desired or tall/great”, he was re-named Paul in Acts 13:13. Paul mentions this period of life when he persecuted the Church in Galatians 1:13, 1 Timothy 1:15-16, and Philippians 3:8.

b) Paul is described as breathing out murderous threats and the threats of imprisoning Messianic Believers and bringing them to trial before the Sanhedrin. The High Priest Annas, who condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy, who condemned Stephen to death for blasphemy, has now authorized Saul to continue the persecution that broke out after the martyrdom of Stephen. Jesus said in John 16:2 – “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God”.

c) Believers are described as disciples of the Lord. Disciples in the Greek – MATHĒTĒS – avid learner, and pupil of their Master. Matthew 10:25 – It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! – Jesus rightly prophesies this season that these people were walking through.

d) The Way – This is a beautiful title and description of the people of faith in Jesus the Messiah. The Way – Greek – HODOS – a travelled way, a course of conduct, a way of thinking, feeling and emotion – We would do well to consider that our faith walks are a journey and process of learning how Jesus thinks, feels and acts, and to become like Him in the way of our lives.

e) Damascus – In the First Century Damascus was an important city. It is located in Modern Syria, and in Roman ages this city was a fortified rectangular city with 2 wide street running from its center that still exist today. It was known for its commerce, steel swords and weaponry. There was a sizable Jewish population there at this time as well as growing Christian community that was birthed from those fleeing the persecution from Jerusalem (AD34-36). Christians had not left the synagogue because at that time the Church was distinctly Jewish and we are extension of the Covenants given to Israel by the New Covenant. It was not until later that the Church became to have a separate identity from Judaism.

Acts 9:3-6

a) Jesus sovereignly intervened and encountered Saul in a power encounter. This was a violent manifestation and revelation of Jesus. Saul’s encounter with the risen Christ teaches us the divine authority of Jesus and His ability to break into this reality in powerful supernatural ways. The Lord was recruiting this knowledgeable Pharisee to become the most astute Apostolic Father of our faith. Paul wrote approximately 2/3 of the New Testament Scriptures and outlined and explained in detail all of the doctrinal beauty of our faith. I cannot understand how we are not untied by the common orthodoxy of faith that is so seen in the Epistles of Paul and the book of Acts. Indeed, Christianity was very unified for almost 1000 years.

b) Notice that there is no mention of a horse. In it not found in the text, but the idea of Saul riding on a horse is a speculation because Damascus in 150 miles from Jerusalem. The text says that Saul fell to the ground as led by the hand into Damascus. If Saul was on a horse, why was he not put back on the horse and led into the city, and not led by the hand. It was not common for people in that culture to ride a horse, but to travel with donkeys. We should stay within the context of the Scriptures. Saul was not riding a horse, but walking with companions. Lastly, the Romans would not be into allowing common Jews to travel with horses because they were people who were subject to Rome, and horses denoted military power and wealth.

c) Notice that Jesus tells Paul that his persecution of believers is the same as persecuting Jesus. We are His body and we are one in Him. 1 Corinthians 12 describes that doctrine in great detail. Paul learned this truth by experience.

Acts 9:7-9

a) The men travelling with Paul only heard the sound of the encounter. Whether they heard the noise of words we do not know. But the sound of heaven opening and Saul being knocked to the ground was probably very intense. Some of our translations say words, but the Greek is PHŌNĒ – a sound, or tone.

b) Saul could not see. This is a metaphor in the natural describing the spiritual blindness that Saul possessed in his lack of understanding the Scriptures, and not being able to see Jesus in them. Paul prayed that we would have spiritual sight and depth of the knowledge of Jesus. See Ephesians 1:18. Paul describes this spiritual blindness as a veil in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16.

c) Three days – The spiritual type and symbol of resurrection and new life – Saul’s
eyesight was resurrected as well as his life metaphorically after this encounter.

Acts 9:10

a) Ananias – This man was a common disciple of Jesus. Ananias means “whom Jehovah has given graciously”. It is important to note that he was experiencing personal visions of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for vision here is HORAMA, which means – “a sight divinely granted in an ecstasy or in a sleep, a vision”. We can conclude that supernatural visions are a common occurrence with those who are believers. Many of us do not function in visions because we have not been taught to expect them as part of the normal Christian faith walk.

Acts 9:11-16

a) Jesus gives Ananias a directive. Ananias hesitates, but obeys later.

b) It is very important to see in the text that Saul is praying to Jesus, and Jesus has answered by telling Saul, Ananias was coming to heal him of his blindness. We need each other to fulfill each of our ministries. Perhaps the Church might become more powerful and influential when come back to an Apostolic flow of spirituality and begin fulfilling ministries. When we are not connected to a community we have a limited ability to minister to others and fulfill destinies.

c) Ananias protests to the Lord and objects to his assignment. It is interesting to note that Saul already had reputation for persecuting believers. From Ananias’ protests, we can conclude that there were many victims of Saul in Jerusalem by his persecution of believers.

d) Jesus does not bargain with Ananias, but encourages him to go with “GO”!

e) The Lord Jesus extends to Saul a demonstration of grace that teaches us depths of His kindness, mercy, restoration and healing. As we study Acts, all of us can press into the true fact that God will forgive any sin, love anyone, and will choose even the most unqualified of us to represent Him.

f) Saul/Paul fulfilled his destiny that was spoken to Ananias. Saul did indeed testify to Gentile kings, governors, and rulers. He testified to the Jewish Sanhedrin in Acts 23 about Jesus being their Messiah. Paul is an example for all of us to see that when one consistently co-labors with Jesus, we carry His purpose for us to fullness. Paul did suffer for Jesus: 2 Corinthians 11:25-29 – “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?”

Acts 9:17-19

a) Ananias obeys the Lord and ministers to Saul. Notice the acceptance of Ananias extended to Saul in calling him brother (one belonging to the same people).

b) We see the laying on of hands as a way of extending healing and the filling of the Holy Spirit to people.

c) Saul eyes were healed. The “scales” speak of the hardness of his heart that blinded him to the truth of Jesus Christ. d) Saul was baptized – Christian baptism grew out the Jewish tradition of ceremonial cleansing in Mikvahs. This was widely practiced in the First Century and Jesus established baptism for believers. See Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-13, and Luke 3:21-22. The Jewish First Century practice of baptism, was either by Mikvah or Natural Spring/Living or running water, either a stream, river or ocean. It was by immersion. John the Baptist preached and confirmed the receiving of his message with an early form of baptism.

Acts 9:20-22

a) Saul takes his destiny in Jesus seriously and starts out right away on his word. As we study the early Christian life of Saul we will see that his spiritual immaturity needed to be dealt with by the method of process and journey with God. Saul is a great example of faith, process, journey, spiritual maturity and fatherhood in Jesus Christ. We will study this in depth as we continue in Acts.

b) The people are perplexed by Saul’s sudden conversion and powerful apologetic of revealing Jesus in the Scriptures. Notice that Saul is able to argue his point from his knowledge of the Scriptures. But Acts does not record Saul moving in love, grace or demonstration of the Spirit at this time. That flow will come later as he begins to mature. Let’s say for now, Saul is a great apologist, but needs to grow in love. Like many believers, we are powerful in the word but lack love and supernatural demonstrations of that love.

Acts 9:23-25

a) Paul argued to the point where his life was danger. His argumentative ministry style did not bring the revivals of his missionary journeys later in his ministry. We can learn from Saul/Paul’s journey in Christ and see him mature and become the greatest Apostle to the Lord Jesus.

b) Saul was lowered through an opening in the wall. To this day, a portion of the entry way of this wall is still standing. The wall had arched openings all around it, and Saul escaped through one of those openings. He mentions this in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 ” In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.” From the text we can see that Aretas had good relations with the Jews in Damascus and it would have been in his best interest to stamp down all problems that affected the social order of the city because he was accountable to Rome.

c) Aretas gives us a time-stamp that proves the veracity of the Scriptures and history of the Church. Aretus was a “title” and not a personal name. Aretas means “graver” and this man was an Arabian ethnarch or lesser king who was a vassal for Rome. There are photos of coins from this era that can be seen by a simple web search. The identity of this Aretas was Aretus IV (4th), who was appointed by Caesar Augustus in AD9 to manage Damascus.

The Acts of the Apostles – Week 12 – Acts 8:26-40 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 8:26-40

Week 12

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will complete Acts Chapter 8. We come to the end of this transitional era of the Jerusalem Church and the Lord begins to move quickly in positioning the Church to expand its message to the known ancient world.

The end of Acts Chapter 8 shows us the dynamic nature of Philip’s naturally supernatural ministry. Philip is an encouragement to us in that he is a great example of someone who was submitted to being led by Holy Spirit. The one who is submitted to the inner voice of Holy Spirit will accomplish great things and be used by God in amazing ways. Philip highlights to us the fun of being on a supernatural adventure with God.

Chapter 8 teaches us that God is very strategic in His leading. Philip obeys the Holy Spirit and North Africa is reached with the gospel, as well as the most important region of Roman influence, Caesarea is reached. The book of Acts will highlight to us the intentionality of God again and again. This understanding should encourage us to continue to partner with the Holy Spirt so that we may see the same type of impact in our ministries.

Acts 8:26

a) Philip – An original disciple of Jesus. He most mentioned in the gospel of John. According to Early Church tradition, Philip preached all over Syria, Greece and Phrygia (Turkey). Acts 21:9 tells us that Philip had 4 daughters that prophesied and Paul visited them on his way to Jerusalem. Philip was martyred in Hierapolis after converting the Proconsul’s wife to Christianity. He was crucified upside down in AD54 and according to the account of his death, he preached as he suffered on the cross. Philip’s name means “lover of horses”. This man runs with God like the speed and strength of a horse.

b) In Acts we see many encounters between angels and believers. Philip encounters this angel and receives a directive from God. The Spirit-filled and empowered believer can expect manifold spiritual encounters, because an open heaven is available to those who partner with that reality.

c) Here is a list of angelic encounters found in the book of Acts. Acts 5:19, Acts 10:3, Acts 12:7, Acts 12:23, and Acts 27:23. Angelic encounters should always fit the profile found in Scripture, and their messages will never contradict the identity of Jesus, the nature and character of the Godhead, or give new revelation/doctrines. Their ministries are to aid believers in their faith journeys (Hebrews 1:14), help establish the rule and reign of the Lord in the spiritual realms and in the natural, and carry out a multitude of God ordained functions and ministries. The book of Revelation gives us an in depth look at the diversity of the angelic order and their ministries.

Acts 8:27-28

a) It is important to note that critics of the Scriptures say that there is no historical Candace ruling in Nubia/Ethiopia during the First Century. However, Candace (KANDAKE) is not a personal name, but the title of the queens of Ethiopia. Candace means “queen” in that language. This Candace, would have been Queen Amantitere who ruled from 22-41AD.

b) The Ethiopian/Cushite culture had a number of interactions with the children of Israel. Moses married a Cushite woman and was opposed by Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12. Solomon and the queen of Sheba interacted in 1 Kings 10. It is implied in the Scriptures that Sheba/Ethiopia had a knowledge of Yahweh and some of their mentions in Scripture are favorable. See 2 Samuel 18:21, Zephaniah 1:1(was “son of Cushi”), Jeremiah 36:14 (Shelemiah – Cushi), Job 28:19 (Cush is mentioned having wealth), and 2 Kings 19:9 (The Cushite King of Egypt attacked Assyrians and caused Sennacherib to withdraw from sieging Jerusalem). Cush means “burnt face”, and the mentions of Zephaniah and Shelemiah “son of Cushi” are godly people of African descent who knew the Lord God and served Him. In this account in Acts, we can see that the worship of Yahweh was well established in northern Africa.

c) This eunuch was probably attending one of the feasts of the Lord in Jerusalem. The Early Church Father Irenaeus gives this man’s identity as Simon Bachos. Here is his quote, “This man (Simeon Bachos the Eunuch) was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed, that there was one God preached by the prophets, but that the Son of this (God) had already made (His) appearance in human flesh, and had been led as a sheep to the slaughter; and all the other statements which the prophets made regarding Him”.

d) A eunuch was not allowed full participation in the Temple worship, was considered less than a man (a dry tree, Isaiah 56:30), and shows us the inclusivity of Christianity. All races are included, and eunuchs are received as God’s own. Eunuchs were often in charge of important matters relating to royalty and managed harems/kings wives. Because they were emasculated they were considered trustworthy and subservient.

Acts 8:29

a) Philip was directed by the angel and is now hearing Holy Spirit. Philip had his heart tuned to hearing God. The text does not tell that this was an audible voice, but we can speculate that Philip was hearing an inner voice.

b) The most important part of our relationship with the Lord is develop the intimate dialogue with Holy Spirit. John 14:26 – “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. Jesus tells us plainly that as His disciples we would hear the words of the Holy Spirit and we should expect to have a natural dialogue with Him. The Holy Spirit is not a force, but a Person who communicates, has emotions and communicates to us the will of God.

c) Philip hears and obeys the Voice, and a man from Ethiopia is about to become the first evangelist to hit North Africa. God is very strategic in that He chooses an important man, with access to the highest authority in his nation, so that he might
be saved and expand the gospel to reach a nation.

Acts 8:30-35

a) Philip models the great adventure of walking with the Lord to us. Because Philip obeyed the Lord, he co-labored with God the lead this man to see Jesus as Messiah. The Ethiopian eunuch shifted from being an observant Jewish convert with limited access to God, to becoming a dearly loved son of the Father with all access to the Father. Philip explained the clear and simple message of Jesus Christ the Victor over all things.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
a) Griefs – Hebrew – CHOLIY – literal sickness b) Sorrows – Hebrew – MAKOVE – Physical pain and mental pain c) Stricken – to reach out and punch – Smitten – to beat, kill, or slay – Afflicted – to put down, to be humbled – NAGA NAKAH ELOHIYM ANAH

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed
a) Transgressions – PESHA – Rebellion against God b) Iniquities – AVON – Perversity, depravity, guilt c) Chastening for our peace – Shalom – completeness, safety and soundness in our body, wealth, prosperity, health, peace of mind, peace in relationships, friendships, and peace from warring. d) Healed – RAPHA – To heal or to make beautiful, to heal individual distresses, to heal national hurts

Acts 8:36-38

a) The baptism of the eunuch again confirms the inclusivity of Christianity, that God desires all people to be close to Him and there is no dividing line between those who are in covenant with Him through Jesus Christ.

b) Baptism – Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the good news, disciple nations and baptize believers. See Matthew 28:16-20. Baptism is the outward expression of faith in Jesus Christ. It is the public confession of faith to the natural realm and spiritual realm. It is the believer’s response to what has taken root in the heart. See Romans 6:4, Ephesians 4:5, Colossians 2:12, and 1 Peter 3:21 for more Scriptures on baptism.

c) Christian baptism grew out the Jewish tradition of ceremonial cleansing in Mikvahs. This was widely practiced in the First Century and Jesus established
baptism for believers. See Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-13, and Luke 3:21-22. The Jewish First Century practice of baptism, was either by Mikvah or Natural Spring/Living or running water, either a stream, river or ocean. It was by immersion. John the Baptist preached and confirmed the receiving of his message with an early form of baptism.

Acts 8:39-40

a) Philip was transported by the Holy Spirit to Azotus. This is a remarkable miracle and we get a sense that the Lord wanted to work very fast through Philip’s ministry. We see a similar miracle in John 6:16-21 when Jesus and the disciples were supernaturally transported to the shore of the Galilee. There are extra biblical accounts of people being transported in the Spirit in church history. Most of these accounts are verifiable and come to us in the Monastic Period of church history. It is possible that the Lord is still operating like this today. However, I cannot find a modern documented case in our era unfortunately. Philip was open to the sovereign move of God. Holy Spirit transportation in Scripture is distinctly a sovereign manifestation and is very different than a gift of the Holy Spirit that can be exercised.

b) The Ethiopian eunuch rejoices! Joy is the expected outcome of being touched by the message of Messiah.

c) Azotus is modern day Ashdod in Israel. It is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and was a prominent trading city during the First Century.

d) Philip preached all the way through to Caesarea. The Lord was moving in a very strategic way because that region was an active Roman port and marketplace area with many people coming and going. The Emperor Augustus transformed the area to sea port center and built the famous elevated aqueduct and a huge colosseum in approximately 6 BC.

e) All throughout the book of Acts, we see the Lord moving in strategic ways to reach and spread the gospel in the fastest most impactful ways. The Lord desires all people to be saved, and those who are led by Him will reap the biggest harvests with maximum impact. As a Community we have the opportunity to hear the Holy Spirit leading us, partner with what He is saying and expect massive impact like the apostolic church experienced

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 8:1-25 – Week 11 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 8:1-25

Week 11

Rob Covell

Introduction –
In this Session we start Acts chapter 8. We continue in the transition season of the Church after the martyrdom of Stephen. We see how persecution begins to scatter the seed of the gospel and launches the gospel from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
The apostolic church now transitions from a local body and begins to become a worldwide movement and begins to enforce the expansion of the kingdom of God.

Matthew 28:18- “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 8:1-3

a) Saul gave approval to Stephen’s death. Later, God would apprehend Saul on the road to Damascus and after a season of process he would become the Apostle Paul. In Saul we see the grace of God revealed in a powerful way. Listen to what Paul testified about himself after he encountered the love and grace of God. See 1 Timothy 12-17 and Philippians 3:4-9. We will spend much more time studying this man, but let’s recognize the extent to which he persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ now.

b) The great persecution – MEGAS DIŌGMOS – This highlights the extent of the satanic/demonic manifestation of the spirit of religion in persecuting The Bride of Christ, the Church. The Jewish leadership has so fully rejected the truth of Messiah, that they were now allied with the devil.

c) Matthew 10:23 – “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes”. – Jesus had plainly told his disciples to flee persecution. This generation of Christians would walk through the most violent persecutions that have ever been levied against the Church.

d) Godly men buried Stephen the first Martyr of the Church. It was a sign of honor in that culture to cry out loud, weep and sing lamentations over the death of a loved one. In the First Century there were professional mourners. In this case it was a heartfelt grieving of Stephen’s execution. Rightly so, because this was a very sad season. Israel had rejected Jesus as Messiah, Stephen was murdered, and the satanic religious spirit had begun to persecute God’s beloved Church.

e) Saul had the authority from the high priest to destroy the Church and seize the property of those who believed Jesus was Messiah. See Matthew 10:17-20. After
AD70 the Jewish persecution had ended because the Temple was destroyed and their power to persecute the Church was ended. In AD70, the Jesus prophesies in Matthew 24 about the Temple were fulfilled and New Covenant was confirmed as the Old Covenant was put away.

Acts 8:4-8

a) The Church could not help but preach the word where ever they were scattered. Just as Jesus said in John 12:24 – “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds”. From the death of Stephen and the great persecution the Church scattered the seed of God and began to reap a harvest. Jesus said the word would go from Jerusalem, Samaria and to the ends of the civilized world.

b) Philip – An original disciple of Jesus. He most mentioned in the gospel of John. According to Early Church tradition, Philip preached all over Syria, Greece and Phrygia (Turkey). Acts 21:9 tells us that Philip had 4 daughters that prophesied and Paul visited them on his way to Jerusalem. Philip was martyred in Hierapolis after converting the Proconsul’s wife to Christianity. He was crucified upside down in AD54 and according to the account of his death, he preached as he suffered on the cross.

c) Philip preached the message with a demonstration of power. We can never divorce the message of the kingdom from the demonstration of power. It is interesting that the text says many and not all were healed. We can conclude that even the apostles did not have a 100% heal rate. Like them we all have varying levels of anointing and success in healing. Mark 16:17-18 – “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Even though we do not have 100% healing, we should never stop seeking to grow in gifting and faith for signs and wonders.

d) The gospel always releases joy. Romans 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 8:9-11

a) Simon the Sorcerer – Greek – MAGEIA – magic arts, witchcraft, occult supernatural power. Notice that illegal expressions of supernatural power always draw attention to the man/woman and not to God. Simon was called the Great Power. He is a false messiah that drew attention to himself. The distinction between Christian signs and wonders is that they are through the Spirit, glorify Jesus Christ as Messiah and greatly benefit those who are touched by them.

Acts 8:12-13

a) Philip preached the kingdom of God and the identity of Jesus as Messiah. There is a distinct difference between the gospel of the kingdom and an intellectual assent to the message of the cross. The gospel of the kingdom proves its message by demonstrations of love and power that rightly reveal the identity of Jesus as Messiah and King.

b) Simon was converted because of the power demonstration. This clues us into the motivations of his heart. He was a power seeker.

c) Baptism is our response to our confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Colossians 2:12 – “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead”. Baptism is beautiful prophetic picture of us being joined to Jesus in His death and resurrection. It demonstrates the truth that we are a new creation in Christ and that we have the hope of resurrection at His second coming. At Refuge we believe that baptism is a response to personal inner faith in Jesus Christ, a public confession of that faith to the natural and supernatural realms, and that the Lord releases grace at baptism and meets us in the experience of it. The Early Church expression of baptism was as follows: Confession of faith, Deliverance and renunciations of agreements with the works of satan/demons, confession of sins, baptism, and the laying on of hands for the filling of the Spirit and empowering spiritual gifts.

Acts 8:14-17

a) We see the filling of the Spirit as an experience that can be separate from the confession of faith. All of the Samarian believers confessed faith in Jesus and were baptized; but they were not filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered into His graces. The Holy Spirit is a gift. God gives us Holy Spirit as a grace gift. We cannot earn Holy Spirit, we can only receive Holy Spirit by a faith expectation that He will come and touch us.

b) Come upon – Greek – EPIPIPTŌ EPI – to fall upon, to rush or press upon, to fall into one’s embrace, to fall upon one i.e. to seize, take possession of him.

c) We see the laying on of hands a mode of imparting the Holy Spirit. This is a valid expression of praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:44 gives us an account of the gift of the Holy Spirit being sovereignly given while Peter preached.

d) The text draws out the truth that there is a difference between those who have simply believed and been baptized, and those who have been filled with Holy Spirit. Our modern expression of faith often discounts this and minimizes the need to be supernaturally filled with Holy Spirit. This has left us with an anemic expression of Christianity that lacks the power needed to enforce the kingdom of God in our lives and in society.

Acts 8:18-20

a) Simon was still operating in the with the power paradigm.

b) Peter corrects Simon and brings out the truth that Holy Spirit is a gift and cannot be earned by works. Simon knew that sorcery was earned by secret knowledge.
Holy Spirit revelation and power is not earned but experienced by faith.

Acts 8:21-23

a) Peter calls Simon to repent. Simon has no part or share in the ministry of Jesus Christ because ministry in Jesus is rooted in love, faith, truth, repentance and forgiveness.

b) Bitterness and captivity to sin severely limit our ability to partner with the Lord and minister to others.

Acts 8:24-25

a) It seems from verse 24 that Simon repented. Verse 24 also shows us the power of our prayer and intercession for others as we pray in agreement together. b) Peter and John return to Jerusalem, the epicenter of apostolic authority of the early church until AD65-67.