The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 12:1-25 – Week 18 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 12:1-25

Week 18

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will cover Acts 12. Acts 12 completes the transition from Jerusalem being the focus of revival to Antioch becoming the Apostolic Hub of the Early Church. Acts 12 gives us the account of James’ son of Zebedee’s political martyrdom by Herod Agrippa I, Peter’s angelic deliverance from the Tower of Antonia, and the Apostolic Mantle transferring from Peter to James, Jesus’ half-brother. The time stamp is AD4445.

Acts 12:1-4

a) The King Herod mentioned in verse 1 is King Herod Agrippa I. This Herod is the grandson of Herod the Great, and at this time is facing political challenges. He was not endeared by the people because of his Idumean (Edomite) descent and his being educated by Rome. He is looked upon as a vassal king and Roman traitor to the Jewish people.

b) Herod’s persecution would have brought acceptance and favor to the general population by the persecution of the Messianic Church of Jerusalem. Messianic believers were considered a subset of Judaism and heretics to the Law. Herod would have gained favor with the people by persecuting the Church and martyring James. Jesus asked James if he could drink the same cup as Jesus. See Matthew 20:22

c) James – Son of Zebedee, John’s brother. James and John, The Sons of Thunder were part of Jesus’ inner circle. James was the first Apostle to be martyred. In his martyrdom we see a satanic counter punch rooted in the spirit of religion and the spirit of antichrist in politics. The text says; “put death with the sword”. This is death by beheading. See Mark 3:17, Luke 9:54, Matthew 17:2, and Matthew 20:20-28 for references to James.

d) Passover Feast – Luke designates the whole week leading up to Passover the Passover feast. This is significant because this was the same season that Jesus was condemned and crucified by the Sanhedrin. Peter was facing a similar trial of blasphemy before the same court. This is a religious/political persecution of Peter; and Peter being the lead Apostle in Jerusalem at this point in Church History made him the prime target of this attack. We should keep in mind that Jesus prophesied to Peter a long life and death by martyrdom, see John 21:18-19. I am sure Peter was thinking about facing a reality in his life that did not line up with God’s promise. That is the place where we need to contend for God’s promises. The prison was the Tower of Antonia. The supporting wall or wailing wall was never part of the Temple, but a remainder of the Tower of Antonia.

Acts 12:5

a) Peter is facing imminent death, and the Church stands in the place of intercession. Clearly this is a satanic attack on the Church, on Peter’s destiny,
and an attack against the expansion of the Kingdom.

b) We can never discount the power of united intercession that partners with the promises of God.

Acts 12:6-11

a) I find it interesting that Peter could sleep the day before his mock trial and execution. Perhaps this speaks of Peter’s rest in God, or His confidence and security that he had in Jesus.

b) Let’s unpack this angelic encounter. 1 – We see the angelic realm interacting with the natural realm and ministering/helping the saints/Peter. 2 – This angel could physically get Peter’s attention. 3 – This angel had a specific assignment from the Lord to rescue Peter. 4 – This angel had the ability to cloak their presence from the guards and supernaturally walk out of prison. 5 – The encounter was surreal and seemed like a vision.

c) Famous Theologian F.F. Bruce reports a similar encounter in modern times: “Sundar Singh, a Tibetan Christian who was likewise freed miraculously from a prison. For preaching of the gospel, he was thrown into a well, and a cover set over it and securely locked. He would be left in the well until he died, and he could see the bones and rotting corpses of those who had already perished in there. On the third night of his imprisonment, he heard someone unlocking the cover of the well and removing it. A voice told him to take hold of the rope that was being lowered. Sundar was grateful that the rope had a loop he could put his foot in, because he had injured his arm in the fall down into the well. He was raised up, the cover was replaced and locked, but when he looked to thank his rescuer he could find no one. When morning came, he went back to the same place he was arrested and started preaching again. News of the preaching came to the official who had him arrested, and Sundar was brought before him again. When the official said someone must have gotten the key and released him, they searched for the key – and found it on the officials own belt.”

d) Peter realizes that he is delivered, and declares God’s deliverance from death. Peter realizes the goodness of God and His ability to save, and the Lord’s intimate care for him. Peter’s declaration gives us insight into the nature of the persecution against him. Peter’s reputation was probably in question after his interaction with Cornelius, and was probably the basis for accusing him of blasphemy.

Acts 12:12

a) Mary and John Mark – From verse 12 we can see that Mary was person of affluence and importance in the church at Jerusalem. We can see this because the text shows us that she has a large house. Other Scriptures tell us that she supported Jesus’ ministry, many were gathered there to pray, and she had at least 1 servant, Rhoda. Mary was probably a widow because she is mentioned in the singular context. We can see from the text that women were a prominent part of the Apostolic Church.

b) John Mark – This is the same John Mark that was with Jesus at Gethsemane (Mark 14:51-52). John Mark was Peter’s translator and travelling companion, as
well as the cousin of Barnabas. John Mark accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary trip and abandoned the mission part way through. He was the source of contention between Paul and Barnabas that led up to a split between them. John Mark is mentioned as being useful to him later in 2 Timothy 4:11 and Peter mentions him in 1 Peter 5:13 as his son. Mark wrote the gospel of Mark as an account of Peter’s testimony and teaching about Jesus. Mark specifically wrote his gospel toward a Roman or Gentile audience. Church history records that John Mark founded the Christian Community in Alexandria, Egypt. John Mark was martyred in Alexandria by a rope placed around his neck and then dragged through the city. His body was exhumed by Christian merchants in AD828 to protect it from Muslim vandalism. His body was taken to Venice, Italy and his head was given to the Alexandrian Church. The Coptic Christian Community today claims unbroken apostolic succession from John Mark.

Acts 12:13-15

a) Scripture presents to us a lighter side of this account with Rhoda leaving Peter at the door!

b) It is also funny that the church did not believe her, but assumed that it was Peter’s guardian angel. It is also comedy to think that they were praying for this situation and did not expect this type of outcome. The Lord surprised them with answered prayer. It is ironic that they would have expected an angelic encounter instead!

c) Guardian Angels – Matthew 18:10 – “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Hebrews 1:14 – “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

Acts 12:16-17

a) Peter recounts his deliverance by the angel to the gathering at Mary’s house.

b) Peter goes to another place; probably Antioch and then back to Jerusalem later in Acts 15:17. From here the book of Acts transitions to the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the spread of Christianity into Europe.

c) Church history tells us that Peter was in Antioch for close to 7 years, returned to sit on the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, and then travelled to Rome to help build up the Church. From Rome, Peter wrote his 2 Epistles and was finally martyred by Roman Emperor Nero in AD65.

d) At this point the Apostolic Mantle in Jerusalem was passed to James, Jesus’ half brother, who wrote the Epistle of James and was maintained leadership until his death by martyrdom and then the Jerusalem Church made an exodus out of Jerusalem to Pella as the Romans surrounded Jerusalem. See Matthew 24:1520.

e) Josephus gives us an extra biblical account of James: “The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: “O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified.” And he answered with a loud voice: “Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven.” And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, “Hosanna to the son of David,” then again the said Pharisees and scribes said to one another, “We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him.” And they cried aloud, and said: “Oh! oh! the just man himself is in error.” Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah: “Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore, shall they eat the fruit of their doings.” So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: “Let us stone James the Just.” And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: “I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: “Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us.” But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man. And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ. And shortly after Vespasian besieged Judaea, taking them captive.”

Acts 12:18-19

a) Herod puts the guards to death because of their failure to guard Peter. 1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. These men reaped fruit for being in league with evil and the enemies of God’s Church.

Acts 12:20-23

a) Herod’s death is mentioned by Josephus and parallels the Acts account. Herod was judged because he persecuted the Church and received praise that was only due to God. Josephus mentions that Herod was arrayed in a robe of silver panels that shone brightly in the sun. Herod was an eloquent speaker schooled in Roman oration and the combination of his clothing illuminated by the sun and his smooth speech, he was hailed as a god. That very day, he was in full blown pain in his stomach and had to be carried to his palace where he died 5 days later. Scripture tells us that an angel struck him down by decree from God. God defends his own.

Acts 12:24-25

a) As always the Church always prospers in the face of adversity. We should have an expectation of victory and growth when Christianity is attacked.

b) Barnabas and Paul select John Mark and bring him back to Antioch to help with the revival there.

Advertisements

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 11:1-30 – Week 17 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 11:1-30

Week 17

Rob Covell

Introduction – As we continue in Acts, we will cover Acts Chapter 11 in this Session. This chapter is outlined in 2 movements in the text. The first movement covers the challenge by brothers in Jerusalem who want Peter to give an account for him fellowshipping with the unclean (Gentiles).

We see the Lord beginning to Father the Jewish Church and bring correction so that they may fulfill their mandate by Jesus to be witnesses from Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. At this point the Messianic believers are stumbled in thinking that salvation was reserved only for Jews. The Lord is patient, kind and merciful, and through the encounter with Cornelius and Peter, the revelation of salvation to the nations is being revealed.

The second movement we see in Acts Chapter 11, is the tremendous revival in Antioch that begins with those who are fleeing the Jewish persecution of believers starting with the persecution of Stephen, and picks up momentum as these disciples begin to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to the Greeks. As we move on in Acts, we will see Antioch become the epicenter of Apostolic anointing and sending, that opens up the gospel to Western Europe. We see in Acts that the Lord is very strategic and moves in ways that bring maximum impact for His glory. Antioch is a city of great influence and wealth and would have been the perfect city to resource the missionary assignments of Paul and Barnabas as well as provide famine relief to the Church at Jerusalem. Our time stamp is approximately AD41.

Acts 11:1-3

a) We see the spirit of religion in operation that attacks Peter and asks him to give an account for eating with the unclean. As we learned in the earlier sessions in Acts 10, Gentiles were considered unclean and impure. In the context of their culture it was not acceptable to associate with the uncircumcised.

b) It is interesting that they would have been so stuck in their prejudice and cultural norms even after Jesus commanded them to go to “all nations” in Matthew 28:19.

c) This religious challenge remains in the Apostolic Church for nearly 200 years and came to a crescendo with the Ebionite heresy. Below are some quotations from Early Church Fathers about the Circumcision Movement.

d) Irenaeus – Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God. —Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2

e) Justin Martyr – But if, Trypho,” I continued, “some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them. But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved. —Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 47.4, 48

f) In addition to this, we see the Apostle Paul writing Galatians to counter this movement. And we see the Apostolic Council Decree in Acts 15 in an effort counter this movement. Romans 2:28-29 – A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Acts 11:4-17

a) Peter recounts his testimony at Cornelius’ house to the Church at Jerusalem.

Acts 11:18

a) These brothers accept Peter’s testimony and respect his apostolic authority on the matter.

b) It is interesting that later Peter stumbled in his own revelation. See Galatians 2:11-13.

c) The gospel of Jesus Christ is freedom, healing, restoration and forgiveness for all people who receive Jesus as Lord. The Gospel of the Kingdom is globally focused, and seeks to enforce and expand the Kingdom of God in every people group.

Acts 11:19

a) The believers that were fleeing the persecution connected with Stephen (Acts 8:1-3) went preaching the gospel to the Jews of the Diaspora. The areas that they travelled to are modern day Turkey and the island of Cyprus. Barnabas was from Cyprus and at this time it had a sizable Jewish population. Simon the Cyrene who helped Jesus carry His cross was from Cyprus. We see the separation of Jew and Gentile as a serious cultural barrier that the Lord was beginning to breaking down. 1 Corinthians 12:13 – For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Acts 11:20-21

a) Antioch – Located in modern day southern Turkey. It was founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals Seleucus Nicator, l, in the 4th Century BC. It was a very important city in the Roman Empire as a trading route with the east through Persia. At this time there was a very large Hellenistic Jewish population
there so it made sense that Messianic Believers would have targeted the area as they fled Jerusalem. It was a very wealthy and luxurious place in ancient terms. The Lord will use this city to resource revival and missions. It is an example of light plundering the resources of darkness. The Lord is very strategic and always seeks maximum impact for His glory.

b) This city became the Apostolic Revival Hub of the First Century Church. This church is the most influential church in Early Church History because this community revolved around a collective of prophets, teachers and missionaries that opened the gospel to Western Europe.

c) This group of believers broke with the cultural norms of the day and partnered with the Lord that began a revival missions’ movement that reached the whole Roman Empire.

d) One indication of God’s approval is fruit being attached to one’s ministry. The Lord’s hand being with them confirmed His presence and approval. We are learning more about the Lord’s heart for the nations as He confirms their ministry.

e) “The hand of the Lord” – Greek – CHEIR (khā’r) – by the help or agency of any one, by means of any one, fig. applied to God symbolizing his might, activity, power. If God is moving we should recognize momentum, growth and spiritual power to confirm our ministries.

Acts 11:22-23

a) The Jerusalem Church sent Barnabas to see the revival first hand. It is interesting to see that communities of believers are beginning cross pollenate. We can conclude that there must have been an amazing sense of awe as the Lord was confirming their message of Jesus as Messiah with revival, healings, angelic encounters, visions, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

b) Barnabas was glad when he witnessed the revival at Antioch. Barnabas observed the grace of God in action. A community of believers can be discerned by the amount of observable grace. Contrast this with Paul’s arrival in Ephesus and he asked, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed”?

c) The text tells us that he encouraged them to remain true to the gospel. This is mentioned because there would be the temptation to soften or compromise the message of Messiah, under Jewish persecution. The Jewish persecution of Messianic believers was intense until AD70. We have the book of Hebrews as response to this and Jesus even mentions this type of persecution in Revelation 2:9 – “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan”.

d) The gospel of Jesus preached a fulfillment message that challenged those who clung to the Old Covenant and refused to believe that Jesus as Messiah instituted a New Covenant. These are some of the challenges; Jesus fulfilled the Law, We are the Temple, We have access into the Holy of Holies, We are the priesthood and a royal nation, Jesus is the true Passover and the true Yom Kippur, Jesus is the true Davidic Messianic King, and many other teachings like these that define the Apostolic message. There would have been tremendous pressure from Jewish unbelievers against the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Acts 11:24

a) Barnabas is described to us in terms that all of us should seek to be identified with; faith and being full of the Holy Spirit. From previous sessions we learned that his name means “son of prophecy” based the Hebrew root word for “prophet”, “NABIY”.

b) The revival increases after Barnabas’ arrival. His arrival added anointing and momentum to what God was doing in Antioch. The Lord brings the right people into the right seasons of ministries to encourage them and increase them.

Acts 11:25-26

a) The Greek word used here for “look” is ANAZĒTEŌ – to hunt after, to seek out, search through, make a diligent search. Barnabas is the prototype of the prophetic minister. This is the person who sees destiny in people and contends for God’s best for them. Barnabas was committed to Saul and advocated for him for period of approximately 10 years.

b) Barnabas sees that the Lord desires to launch Saul into ministry and help with build up the Antioch revival. We should also note that dynamic ministries are not built around one person, but are built around groups of leaders who are moving the power of the Spirit and unity. Antioch is an example of a collective of leaders that father this apostolic revival center. Saul and Barnabas systematically teach and build up this community in the way of God.

c) The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. This is Latin hybridized term for believers in Jesus and was probably mentioned as a derogatory name for believers. It means “a man of Messiah”. All throughout Acts the Church calls itself, brothers, the Way, disciples, and other terms like these. We see 2 things in view here. 1- The Church is beginning to have a separate identity from Hebraism. 2 – Disciples of Christ are distinctly identified with Him and are willing to suffer for Him.

Acts 11:27-28

a) We see the itinerant prophetic ministry in full view here in the text. Agabus is mentioned in Acts 21:10 and prophesies to Paul on his way to Jerusalem. From the Book of Acts, we see Agabus operating out of the church of Jerusalem and travels around ministering in the prophetic gift. His name means “locust” and we can see that his name fits him as he prophesies famine.

b) Notice that Agabus did not connect God with the famine. Agabus simply reported what was revealed by the Holy Spirit. We need to be very careful when giving negative prophetic words. His negative word has redemption in it, because it was a call to action to prepare for the deliverance of the famine that was coming. God was Fathering His people and preserving them.

c) This famine happened in AD 45-46. Luke gives us a time stamp in the text that can be easily corroborated during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius. This famine is mentioned by historians Tacitus, Cassius, and Josephus.

Acts 11:29-30

a) We 2 things that mark the Apostolic Church that we can learn from. 1 – They obey the prophecy and take action. Theologian G. Campbell Morgan says, “This is a glorious and gracious revelation of the consciousness of oneness by the Spirit; obedience to prophecy, expressing itself in love, and love taking the practical form of help”. 2 – The demonstrate generosity and unity with the Church at Jerusalem.

b) Saul and Barnabas accompany the gift from Antioch. Paul organizes another gift to the Church at Jerusalem and mentions it 1 Corinthians 16 and it is also mentioned in Acts 24:17.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 10:24-48 – Week 16 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 10:24-48

Week 16

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will complete Acts Chapter 10. As we complete this chapter we continue to see the Lord expand the salvation narrative, by opening up the gospel to the Gentiles and delivering the Jewish Church from the bondage of the religious spirit of exclusion. Jesus had already mandated that they preach the gospel to all nations and He intervenes in this stage of the salvation narrative to make this evident to the early church.
As we progress in this chapter we not only see the Gentiles as accepted by the Lord, but we see the necessary components that make up the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We will also spend some time to discuss the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.

Acts 10:24-26

a) Cornelius is excited that Peter is coming! Notice that there was no way to communicate ahead of time that Peter was coming or was even in Joppa. Cornelius took for granted that the revelation was true and that Peter was coming by the word of the Lord. This models to us faith in action and a belief that is steadfast.

b) Cornelius reverences Peter. The Greek word used for worship is the word used here for Cornelius reverencing Peter. Peter corrects Cornelius. This shows us Peter’s humility and reverence for God. Culturally this is out of place for Roman Centurion to have bowed to Peter. Cornelius was a person of political importance and an authority in that land. For Cornelius to bow to Peter was humility was well; but inappropriate.

c) All of us are the Priesthood of Believers and the Body of Christ. Peter shows us that by his actions. 1 Peter 1:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, Matthew 23:9 – “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Romans 12:3 – For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Acts 10:27-29

a) Peter went inside and found a large gathering to hear Peter speak. Cornelius rallied many to hear what Peter had to say. I am sure the news of an angelic encounter and commission was exciting news.

b) There was no explicit command in the Law for a Jew not to associate with a
Gentile, with the exception of Ammonites and Moabites. God’s command in Deuteronomy 23:3-4, commanded the Israelites not to allow Ammonites or Moabites into their community. This command was extended to the other Gentiles through rabbinical teaching and tradition that stemmed from Nehemiah’s reforms. In Nehemiah 13:1-3 he re-established the command not to allow Ammonites and Moabites into the community. From this the rabbis extended the command to cover all Gentiles.

c) Peter rightly understands the vision that the Lord gave him in his trance. The revelation that Gentiles are not unclean in the spiritual sense or in the racial/ethnic sense. There is no room for racism or prejudice in Christianity. The Jewish-Centric Church that flowed out of Jerusalem by persecution, is being prepared to fulfill the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and learn that the love of the Father is for all, and the gift of Messiah for all. See John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:15.

d) Peter is curious why Cornelius has sent for him. Keep in mind both parties are moving in faith with limited revelation.

Acts 10:30-33

a) Cornelius retells his angelic encounter. It is wonderful that nothing done in secret is ever missed by the Lord.

b) Cornelius moves in faith, as faith is an action word. It is amazing to consider how God partners with us and invites us into the great adventure of faith. Encounters, signs and wonders are the on-ramp for great things. The whole salvation narrative is about shift because 2 men had encounters and obeyed their directives. Though God is sovereign, He co-labors with the human heart to accomplish His plans. This illustrates our identity as the Bride of Christ; a perfect mate to accompany the Bridegroom Savior, Jesus Christ.

c) Notice Cornelius mentions the presence of God being in the assembly at his house. This illustrates the truth of God being in our midst when we corporately set our hearts towards Him. When people are unified to host the presence of God, we see explosive manifestations of His presence.

d) Cornelius recognizes the apostolic authority of Peter.

Acts 10:34-38

a) Peter begins to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to those assembled in Cornelius’ house.

b) We notice the following movements regarding the gospel message. 1 – Inclusivity 2 – Peace through Jesus, Messiah 3 – Jesus proved His identity as the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit 4 – Jesus does good to all

c) Notice the contrast between the Messiah and the devil. Peter associated everything that was not beneficial to humanity to the devil, and presented the truth that Jesus was proving the heart of the Father by demonstrating His goodness by healing us from the bondage of the devil.

Acts 10:39-43 a) Peter recounts the ministry of Jesus and His death on a cross. There 2 Greek words for cross. They are 1 – STAUROS – Roman Cross, the cruelest form of capital punishment reserved for only the basest individuals. 2 – XYLON – A beam of wood. This is the word Peter uses here. Some have implied a controversy here, but this is simply not the case. Both Greek words point to Jesus’ death on cross, not an upright stake.

b) Peter’s account has authority because He is an eyewitness. See 2 Peter 1:16-18. Peter testifies to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. Notice that Peter confirms a bodily resurrection of Jesus, where Jesus eats, drinks and teaches them. There were many others besides Peter who witnessed Jesus being raised from the dead. See 1 Corinthians 15:6.

c) Jesus is Judge of the dead and living. This statement teaches us that because Jesus was a Perfect Man, He is Perfect Judge. Implied in the text is life after death, and the authority of Jesus to sit as Judge. See Romans 14:9, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 1:3, and 1 Peter 4:5.

d) Peter connects the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as being the sin payment for humanity, and the forgiveness Jesus extends to us, is obtained by faith. The cross is both penal substitution and restorative justice. Peter presents these two truths to us by contrasting the works of the devil to the goodness of God in Jesus (restorative justice), and Jesus as the sin payment for our debt of sin (penal substitution).

e) “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness” – believes – Greek – PISTEUŌ – to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in – forgiveness – Greek – APHESIS – to release from bondage or imprisonment, forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty

Acts 10:44-46

a) In Acts we have seen the gift/filling of the Holy Spirit released by the laying on of hands and now we see Holy Spirit move in a sovereign way by filling the Gentile believers. We can conclude that Holy Spirit can flow and be imparted by those who are filled, and by His own choice. In this instance Holy Spirit moves in way that becomes a teaching moment for Peter and the brothers with him.

b) They were astonished that Holy Spirit would be given to Gentiles. We can see the deep seated cultural bias in the Circumcision. Paul takes this group to task in Galatians, and the First Apostolic Counsel in Acts 15 has to address a similar attitude.

c) Holy Spirit is a gift. This is beautiful language that shows us that Holy Spirit is grace to us. The Greek text shows us that this interaction between the Gentile believers and Holy Spirit is one that is from the outside on. So we would not be out of line to teach that although Holy Spirit can be experienced from within, He can be experienced upon.

d) The evidence that Holy Spirit had been given to the Gentiles was speaking in tongues and praising God. We cannot dogmatically say the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is tongues because in Acts 8:17 and Acts 13:52 we do not see that manifestation. However, in Acts 19:6 we do see speaking in tongues as the evidence of the filling of the Spirit. We should say that when a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, there is a tangible manifestation that proves His ministry that is commonly manifested by speaking in tongues.

e) Tongues are both an evidence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and a gift of the Spirit. See Acts 19:6, and 1 Corinthians 12:10. The word in the Greek for tongues in the text is GLŌSSA, and means “the tongue” or by implication a language. 1 Corinthians 13:1 teaches us that there are 2 manifestations of tongues. Tongues of angels and tongues of men.

f) Exhortations that encourage tongues – 1 Corinthians 14:39 – Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:5 – Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

Acts 10:47-48

a) Peter baptizes these new Gentile believers. Baptism is the confirmation of their faith; the outward sign of that which has already taken place in the heart. Baptism is commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28 and Mark 16.

b) Peter stays with them for a few days to encourage them in their faith.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 10:1-23 – Week 15 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 10:1-23

Week 15

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will begin Acts Chapter 10. This chapter is another transitional chapter in the history of the Early Church. We see the Lord moving the salvation narrative forward by reaching the Gentile, Cornelius and his household with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore showing His acceptance of those who are not Jews.

We also see the Apostles struggle with their own hearts and face their prejudices as the Lord shows them His love for those who are not naturally Israel. We will learn that obedience to what God reveals brings amazing amounts of breakthrough for others. We will continue to see the wonderful relationship between God and those He loves, as Cornelius and Peter work with God and obey His voice.

This chapter is exciting in the sense that it is filled supernatural ministry of encounters with an angel, a trance, and voice and power of the Holy Spirit. This chapter is rich with revelation, and we can see insights on how to interpret visions from God in text.
Acts 10:1-3

a) Caesarea Maritima – Founded and built by Herod the Great between 25-13 BC in honor of Augustus Caesar. It was a city that boasted amazing feats of civil engineering. The city had a man-made harbor called the Sebastos, that was made from castings of lime/rock slurries. Caesarea had a Coliseum, as well as the raised Maritima Aqueduct and was the center of Roman Administrative power in Syria and Judea. This city was designed to awe the people and display the glory and wealth of Rome. This city of north of Joppa where Peter is staying.

b) Cornelius – Name means “of a horn”. Horns were ancient symbols of power. Cornelius’ name fit him well. As a Roman Centurion he would have been considered the bravest of Roman soldiers. His regiment, COHORS II ITALICA CIVIUM ROMANORUM, is mentioned in history of being made up of volunteers from Rome. Centurions led their legions from the front, suffered extremely high casualty rates, were no younger than 30 years old, and were not only examples of extreme bravery, but used to enforce Roman Civil Law. Here is a quote from Vegetius Renatus – “The centurion in the infantry is chosen for his size, strength and dexterity in throwing his missile weapons and for his skill in the use of his sword and shield; in short for his expertness in all the exercises. He is to be vigilant, temperate, active and readier to execute the orders he receives than to talk; Strict in exercising and keeping up proper discipline among his soldiers, in obliging them to appear clean and well-dressed and to have their arms constantly rubbed and bright.”

c) Cornelius is described as a proselyte to Judaism. He is a paradox, in that he is the example of Roman power, a Gentile oppressor of Israel, but he is also one that has softened his heart to God and cares for the people. Cornelius is a man
of faith who as a Gentile convert to Judaism is living his faith in the works of the Law, in alms giving to the poor, and prayer. Notice that he and his whole family are serving the Lord.

d) 3 in the afternoon, the Jewish time of afternoon prayer. This encounter is the beginning of the transition of the Lord opening up the revelation that He desires all to be saved and healed by the gospel. The rest of Acts shows us the unfolding of salvation history to the Nations. Cornelius has a vision (Greek – HORAMA), and encounters an angel. Over and over in the book of Acts we see supernatural encounters as the norm for those who seek the Lord and are in relationship with Him. Our expectation should be that we would have supernatural encounters with God.

Acts 10:4-6

a) Cornelius stared in fear, it is shocking to experience that which is from the supernatural realms of God.

b) The angel answers Cornelius with an encouraging and comforting message. Angels from God always align with God’s nature and character, and their directives never contradict the Lord in any way.

c) Cornelius receives a directive from the angel. Hebrews 1:14 is on display here in the text.

d) How awesome it is that the Lord rewards that which is done in secret. See Matthew 6. The text says “memorial offering” before God. The Lord never forgets our acts of faith, our service and the unseen sacrifices of our lives to Him.

e) The directive from the angel is about to shift the entire focus of Christianity and open up salvation to all peoples. Notice that the directive is super specific; it includes a geographic location, and a name.

f) Notice the symbolism of the 3’s. 3 in the afternoon, and 3 people sent to Peter. 3 in Scripture is the number resurrection, victory, new beginnings and breakthrough.

Acts 10:7-8

a) Cornelius responds to the visitation by obeying the directive from God. Our obedience can open up blessings and breakthroughs for others. Cornelius’ obedience began the revelation that God desired the Gentiles to saved. It was always in God’s heart for all nations to know Him. See Psalm 22:27, Psalm 57:9, Psalm 67:2 and Psalm 72:11. However the Apostles were still operating in the mindset that only Jews were appointed for salvation in Messiah, even after Jesus commanded them to go to all nations and disciple them (Matthew 28).

Acts 10:9-10

a) Peter following the customary Jewish noon time prayer (MINCHA) and falls into a trance. Trance – Greek – EKSTASIS – a throwing of the mind out of its normal state, alienation of mind, whether such as makes a lunatic or that of a man who by some sudden emotion is transported as it were out of himself, so that in this rapt condition, although he is awake, his mind is drawn off from all surrounding objects and wholly fixed on things divine that he sees nothing but the forms and
images lying within, and thinks that he perceives with his bodily eyes and ears realities shown him by God.

b) Notice that the hunger is mentioned and as the trance unfolds to us in the text, we will see the correlation of physical hunger, spiritual hunger and God’s desire for all people, being communicated to Peter by supernatural images relating to eating unclean things.

Acts 10:11-16

a) The Lord gives Peter a vision relating to eating, while he was hungry and in prayer. The vision challenges Peter’s law keeping practice of only eating clean/kosher. See Deuteronomy 14:1-21. The vision challenges his religious paradigm.

b) Visions from God are almost always symbolic and communicate a greater truth than what is on the surface. We notice following movements of the vision that help us understand how to interpret the vision as we move through the text. 1 – Hunger/eat the unclean thing on the sheet. 2 – Sheet – the symbol of the world 3 – The unclean animals/Gentiles (Peter thought that Gentiles were unclean people in God’s eyes) 4 – God tells Peter He made these animals in the vision clean. This represents the Father bringing all people to Himself and making all clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. 5 – Notice the continued symbolism of 3’s, signifying new beginning, breakthrough and resurrection. The dead Gentile nations are about to become resurrected and joined to God by the gospel.

Acts 10:17-18

a) Peter was wondering – Greek – DIAPOREŌ – to be entirely at loss, to be in perplexity – Proverbs 25:2 – It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

b) We see the Providence of God in full view here in the text, as well as the very personal nature of God of His friendship towards those who love Him. God directs Cornelius and his servants to find Peter, and the Lord gives Peter a revelation that contains the mystery of the gospel. See Ephesians 1:9.

Acts 10:19-20

a) We see Peter interacting with the Lord and the Spirit. We see more Trinitarian revelation here in the text and can see the very personal nature of Holy Spirit in communicating to people.

b) Peter had tuned his spiritual ears to hear the small still voice of God the Spirit. When we seek the Lord be ready to listen to His voice. Peter did not let the vision go, or dismiss it; he pondered it and gave himself to finding out the mystery of it.

c) Peter engages the men from Cornelius and asks them why they are there. This probably made Peter wonder even more about what was happening, as he was being sought by important people who represented the authorities, but also that they were Gentiles.

Acts 10:21-23

a) The men from Cornelius tell Peter about the angelic vision, and Peter agrees to
go with them. Both of these groups of men are moving in faith based on supernatural visitations from heaven.

b) As Acts 10 begins to unfold we see the Lord moving in both Providence and in friendship with those who love Him. We see a “co-laboring” between God and man to accomplish His will. It is important that we understand that the Lord enjoys his children and works through the agreement of His people with Him. May we be submitted just as Cornelius and Peter were submitted to His voice. Our obedience, like their obedience, can bring amazing breakthroughs for others. Because these men obeyed, Jewish separation is ended, and the gospel begins to go global. Later in Acts 10 and 11, we see the religious spirit begin to move against this new unity of faith and we see how the Apostles stand up to this attack.