The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 22:1-29 – Week 39 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 22:1-29

Week 39

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will be going through Acts 24 and continue the narrative of the spiritual warfare from the spirit of religion against Paul as he addresses the crowd that has attacked him during the rioting. As we go through the text, we should keep in mind the following:

1 – Spiritual warfare begins in the unseen realm and manifests in the natural realm in the form attacks on Christians, riots, violence, rejection of Jesus and rejection of the grace and love of God.

2 – God is good and kind and pursues people with His love. As Paul addresses the crowd, this the Lord’s last attempt at inviting the unbelieving Jews into the grace and forgiveness of Messiah.

3 – God is moving providentially behind the scenes of this narrative to protect Paul from harm and protect Paul’s destiny of preaching the gospel to kings.

Acts 22:1-2

a) As Paul addresses the crowd he begins to relate to them in the context of him being tied to them as brother and fellow Israelite. Many in the crowd may have assumed Paul was a Hellenized Jew and not one who spoke Aramaic. Therefore, the crowd was hushed as he began to speak. As we learned in the last session, Paul spoke 3 languages; Latin, Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic.

b) As we move deeper into the text, God through Paul, makes His last mass appeal to the unbelieving Jews and their leadership into relationship through Messiah. 1 Corinthians 5:20 – We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. – John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

c) Paul’s love for his own people is displayed to them as he shares his testimony and presents Jesus to them.

Acts 22:3

a) Paul begins his witness by presenting to them his qualifications. 1 – Paul was from a wealthy and important city. 2 – He was a Jew who was educated by one of the most respected Rabbi’s and member of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel. 3 – Paul was a Pharisee (separated ones) and would have been recognized as a belonging to that group who were considered fundamentalists concerning the Law. Paul mentioning that he was zealous implied him being concerned and having a regard for the Torah. Paul is building his credibility and defending himself against the attack from the Ephesian Jews.

b) Gamaliel – This was the famous Rabban Gamaliel, The Elder whose Rabbinic School flourished from AD 1 to AD 49. Gamaliel led the Sanhedrin and had an authoritative voice in this Council. He is mentioned in the Talmud and the Mishna, and is held in high esteem even today. The Talmud says regarding Gamaliel, “When Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died, regard for the Torah ceased, and purity and piety died.” Gamaliel was also a Pharisee. Christian tradition says that Gamliel eventually became a believer in Messiah and was baptized by Peter and John along with his son and Nicodemus. Here is an interesting quote from Gamaliel; “one who has memorized everything by study, but has no understanding, and is the son of poor parents”.

Acts 22:4-5

a) Paul in Galatians 1:13-14 makes a very similar statement concerning his persecution of the Church. Paul understands the deception of the spirit of religion because he was deceived by it at one point in his life. What we overcome gives us authority to release others from that same bondage. See 1 Timothy 1:12-16.

b) As Paul mentions the high priest and Sanhedrin, he is addressing people who knew him and could testify that he is who he says he is. They could testify to the truth that they had charged Paul with letters to persecute believers in Messiah.

c) Paul calls faith in Christ the Way. Greek – Way – HODOS – a way, a travelled road, metaphor for a course of conduct, a way of thinking, feeling, and deciding. It is important that we see faith in Jesus as a process and journey into being accepted and Fathered by God.

d) Historically we should note that Christianity has not separated from Judaism at this point, but was considered an extension of it through the New Covenant that Jesus cut on the cross. Belief in Messiah confirmed all the previous Covenants because they all pointed and prophesied His appearing and redemption. It would be approximately 200 years before Christianity had taken on a distinct identity and ceased to be a movement within Judaism.

e) Paul begins the narrative of his conversion to Messiah on the Damascus road.

Acts 22:6-11

a) We should never underestimate the power of our testimonies. They are on-ramps for people to consider truth about God, and they cannot be easily disputed because they are personal and they “humanize” the gospel of Jesus Christ. Testimonies are theology personalized. The Lord Jesus was so kind to intervene in Paul’s life and His grace towards Paul was immense, making a persecutor into an Apostle.

b) Notice that Jesus says to Paul that he is persecuting Him. When people persecute God’s Church, they are persecuting Jesus. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 – If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

c) Paul being left blind from the intensity of the light, was a sign that Paul, thinking he was enlightened, was spiritually blind.

Acts 22:12-16

a) Paul describes Ananias to the crowd in a way that communicates to them that Ananias is a reliable witness and a man who is being obedient to God.

b) In this account Paul gives a little more detail than in the account of his conversion in Acts 9. Notice that Paul is telling the crowd that is God’s will to see the Righteous One, Jesus, and to hear His voice and witness to what he hears. Paul is communicating to them that he is being obedient to God in following Jesus Christ.

c) Paul clearly presents to the crowd the forgiveness of sins by calling on the Name of Jesus. Paul’s conversion shows us the great lengths that the Lord will go to, to pursue people in love and grace.

Acts 22:17-21

a) The parallel account for this part of Paul’s testimony is Acts 9:26-30. Notice that Paul has an encounter with Jesus in a trance as he was praying. Supernatural encounters with God are natural part of our faith. Our access point into deep communication with the Lord is prayer. In his testimony to the crowd, Paul is having a dialogue with Jesus in the trance. Jesus is always ready to speak to his own. See John 10:3.

b) In his dialogue with Jesus, Paul assumes that his testimony would be received because of previous persecution of the Church, and his dramatic turnaround in becoming obedient to Jesus.

c) Paul has been a believer for about 20 years at this point in the Acts narrative. We can look back through his journey with God and see the wisdom of God calling him to the Gentiles. Paul was an expert in the Scriptures and could explain the Covenants, the prophesies in the Scriptures, their fulfillment in Jesus, he could testify in the synagogues and teach Gentiles the foundations of their faith as ones who have been grafted into Israel.

d) Paul’s mentioning him going to the Gentiles would have been very offensive, because Gentiles were considered rebellious and rejected by God.

Acts 22:22-23

a) The crowd reacts to Paul’s mention of God being concerned for the Gentiles and protests his word violently. The attack against Paul and the rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah, is the manifestation of the spirit of religion that hates the grace of God. They are demanding death because they could not fathom that God would save Gentiles and include them into the same grace and mercy extended to the Jews.

Acts 22:24-25

a) Paul was no stranger to the punishments of the Jews and the Romans. 2 Corinthians 11:24-25 – Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones.

b) The Romans were interested in keeping peace with law and order. The common method for extracting information from a non-citizen in Roman custody was examination by flogging. The method was to strip the individual, tie his hands one
post to another and flog him with flagellum until the crime is confessed. The centurion must have been perplexed by the reaction of the crowd, so he wanted to flog Paul to get more information.

c) It was illegal to punish a Roman citizen without a trial.

Acts 22:26-29

a) The centurion brought the tribune. This would have been a Roman military tribune who would have had authority over the those stationed at the Antonia Tower.

b) The conversation between Paul and the tribune is interesting when understood in the context of the culture. Roman citizenship was either by birth, right, reward, or bribe. The tribune’s statement to Paul about paying a large sum of money for citizenship is his way of saying, “anyone can buy citizenship”. Paul being a citizen by birth, carried more cultural weight that one obtained by a bribe. That explains their reaction of fear in regards to Paul’s arrest and attempt at flogging him.

c) Our take away from this encounter shows us three things that are veiled but present in the text. 1 – The spirit of religion is a satanic attack as manifested in the hatred of the riotous crowd. 2 – Despite our rebellion, the Lord seeks opportunities to show us mercy and offer forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to Himself. 3 – The Lord is faithful to Paul and working providentially behind the scenes to deliver him from harm.

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QTI Covenant Theology – Session 1 – Rob Covell and Dave Collins

Introduction –

In this Session, we will start building a foundation that will empower us to see the Scriptures as a progressive salvation narrative that communicates the specifics of God’s Nature and Character as He works through a process of reconciling all things to Himself. In the Scriptures, we see a process of redemption that begins in Eden and ends in Eden restored. It is important to see the salvation narrative as a congruent and continuous process of the Godhead reconciling humanity to Himself, and re-establishing the eternal order in which humanity was designed to exist, but forfeited in the Fall.

In this Covenant Theology track, we will explore Soteriology in detail, so that each one of us will be able to explain and understand the motivations of why and how the Godhead/Trinity would redeem a lost humanity. In this Session, we will look at the following subjects:

1 – An Overview of the Covenants of God

2 – God’s Original Design for Humanity

3 – The Dominion Mandate

4 – The Adamic Covenant

We will depart from the lecture style teaching mode you are familiar with from Theology 101 track, and we will adopt a process of presenting theological constructs and having the class respond with comments and questions at the end of each section.
An Overview of the Covenants

As we look at the Covenants of God, we are studying the process and motivations of God in regards to the salvation of humanity and the establishment of the eternal order. Covenant Theology is a very simple Systematic Theology for building the proper hermeneutic from which to interpret Scripture and relate to the Lord personally. Covenant Theology thought began in the Early Church era with Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Augustine to name a few. The foundation we are teaching at QTI is a Systematic Theology was developed in the first 500 years of Christianity.

The definition we will us in this course for Covenant Theology is as follows: a) God used a process of Covenants to redeem and reconcile humanity to Himself. b) God used the process of Covenants to clearly communicate information regarding His Nature and Character. c) Each Covenant moves the salvation narrative forward from Eden lost to Eden restored using Israel as His means of revealing Messiah to the world. d) The New Covenant supersedes all other Covenants because it is the Covenant that all other Covenants prophesied in regards to Jesus Christ. e) The New Covenant revelation as embodied in the New Covenant Apostolic writing (New Testament), is the fullest explanation and revelation that is used to understand the Old Covenant body of Scripture. Though there are themes, symbols, types and shadows that apply in understanding New Covenant Scripture; their complete understanding is through the lens of the New Covenant Scriptures (New Testament). f) There has only been one people of faith who have related to God through faith in the context of the Covenant they governed by.

The Covenants
Adamic Covenant – Genesis Chapters 1-3
Noahic Covenant – Genesis Chapters 5-9
Abrahamic Covenant – Genesis Chapter 15 and Genesis 17
Mosaic Covenant – Exodus Chapter 19:5-6 and Chapter 20
Davidic Covenant – 2 Samuel Chapter 7
New Covenant (Messianic Covenant) – Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, and Luke 22:7-22
There are 6 Covenants of God that communicate a seamless salvation narrative and give us a congruent and consistent hermeneutic for understanding the Scriptures. Notice that there are 6 Covenants; and 6 being the number of humanity, points us to the truth that the Covenants tell the story of God redeeming humanity.

Q&A

Genesis 1:26-28 God’s Original Design for Humanity

a) The Lord creates mankind with unique qualities that reflect Himself. Hebrew – Image Tselem – resemblance – Likeness – Hebrew – Demuwth – similitude. So, in some sense we reflect God in terms of morality, creativity, beauty, consciousness, free will, and many other manifold expressions of God in mankind. God created humanity with the most honor over all His creation. People inherently possess worth in God’s eyes.

b) Rule – Hebrew – Radah – Dominion, dominate, tread down, rule, and subjugate – We see from the definition of this word that mankind has a mandate from God as His highest created beings that we would be the vehicle for God’s wisdom to be expressed throughout the earth. This gives us the principle that God intended people mimic His Kingship by acting as emissaries over His creation. Man, had been given realm to rule.

c) Blessed – Hebrew – Barak – to praise, to speak divine favor over – The Lord gave favor to accompany the mandate. This is in a sense the grace to carry out the mandate. d) This concept is so important, that the Lord repeats the concept in verse 27 and 28. e) This is original design for us before the fall of mankind, and is the reality that we look forward to in Jesus Christ as a redeemed humanity. This foundation sets the purpose for a Messiah.
Genesis 2:20-25 God’s Original Design for Marriage and Family a) No suitable helper – Helper – Hebrew – `EZER – succor, one who comforts, help – The Lord reveals to Adam his need for one who would comfort and help in the Dominion Mandate. One cannot build the generations, found society, and co-labor with God in the process of bringing forth Messiah, alone. b) Deep sleep – Hebrew – TARDEMAH – deep sleep/trance – symbolism for the process of

waiting for the Lord to reveal the bride that is chosen by Him.

c) Notice the symbolism for the creation of Eve. 1 – She is taken from His side. This communicates her position as a co-equal partner who would rule with Adam in equity and unity. 2 – Taken from his side, under his arm, close to his heart, communicates Adam’s role in protecting Eve and caring for her heart.

d) Brought her to the man – Hebrew – BOW’ – to go in, enter, come, go, come in – Some scholars see that God presented Eve to Adam in intimate embrace.

e) Adam makes a declaration of love and unity and is in an uncorrupted state of oneness with Eve. See Ephesians 5:28-29.

f) God’s original intent for humanity includes blessing in individual identity, corporate identity, and family and marriage.

g) They felt no shame – communicates to us a deeper truth that shame accompanies sin.

Q&A

The Dominion Mandate

In Genesis 1:28, we see a clear directive from God, that humanity would in a sense “heavenize” earth to reflect and re-image God in this realm. As we look at the temptation of the serpent (satan), we see 3 movements. 1 – God allowed the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve because love is not authentic without the ability to choose love. 2 – The serpent was seeking to usurp the dominion of Adam and Eve because he had no dominion of his own. 3 – God promises that dominion would be re-established.

Genesis 3 The Fall and the Promise of a Second Adam who would Restore Dominion

a) Dominion Lost – Satan/Serpent/Enemy approached mankind and used deception and lies to challenge the goodness of God, and to attack the dominion mandate.

b) Adam and Eve as representatives of God or possessors of God’s authority to rightfully rule, gave the authority to rule to the serpent/Satan.

c) Humanity at that point before the Fall, only had knowledge of good, purity, morality; basically, we were perfect in reflecting the image of God. However, thru the fall, the knowledge of evil entered into our consciousness.

d) God gave Adam and Eve freewill, so that they would have the choice to love God freely. Obedience to God is found in the ability to love God as a freewill choice. Love is a choice. God showed honor to man by granting freewill. God is not in control, but He is a place of ultimate authority. God did not child proof the garden.

e) The curse – The ground or earth realm was cursed, death is a curse, and the entrance of evil in fullness is death. The creation was cursed; means that corruption entered the creation. Now creation is beginning to reflect its illegal authority, which is Satan. So, we see the source of evil in the world comes from Satan, not God. 1 John 1:5 God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. God did not curse people, but the realm in which they had dominion.

f) The Serpent is cursed

g) Messiah is promised – One who would rightly defeat the serpent, and reestablish the dominion. This is Jesus Christ prophesied from the very beginning of salvation history. Romans 5:12-20 outlines this concept in a very direct way. See 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 1 Corinthians 15:46. We will study this in depth in Session 6.

Q&A

The Adamic Covenant

The Adamic Covenant shows us specific truths about God and people. The Adamic Covenant could be described as a general grace based Covenant that God made with the whole of humanity and His promise of a Messiah who would re-establish what was lost in the Fall. The following is a general list of the concepts we learned as we have studied the Adamic Covenant and the Fall.
1 – God is a benevolent designer who is good.

2 – God desired relationship with humanity out of the motivation of love and mutual enjoyment.

3 – God extended grace to humanity and empowered humanity with a dominion that would mimic his rule and reign.

4 – Humanity represented in Adam failed in love and chose to believe a deception regarding God’s nature and character, but God promises Redeemer/Reconciler.

5 – Satan is a usurper who is operates in illegal dominion and possesses no ability prosper.

Q&A
Journaling Activation
1 – How have the concepts of the God’s goodness and grace presented in Genesis chapters 1 through 3 impacted your view of Him? Are there any areas of your heart that need to be re-aligned with the truth that has been presented to you in the Scriptures?
2 – As a theological reformer, what is your role to play in impacting American society and religious expression? How can you lovingly present truth about God in friendships, social media, the marketplace, family, etc.?
Homework – Read Genesis Chapters 5-9

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 21:27-40 – Week 38 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 21:27-40

Week 38

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will complete Acts 21, which has been a very rich chapter in regards to the culture and times of the Early Church. As we end Act 21, we see the following movements in the text.
1 – The spiritual warfare against Paul manifesting in the false accusations and riot at the Temple.

2 – Paul’s heart for his people Israel and his love for the Jerusalem Church as delivered the gifts from the Gentile Churches.

3 – God shows Himself merciful to Israel as He gives them one last opportunity to believe in Jesus as Messiah before the destruction of the Temple in AD70.

Acts 21:27-29

a) The vow referenced in the text is the Nazirite (Numbers 6) vow that we studied in the last session. Paul and the 4 men, at the end of the vow, would shave their heads and give an offering at the Temple. We should not impute to Paul that he was compromising from his grace message, but honoring the Messianic Community in Jerusalem for the sake of unity. 1 Corinthians 9:20 – To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

b) Jews from the Province of Asia – This would mainly refer to Jews from Ephesus who were at Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost. There would have been Jews from all over the Roman Empire at Jerusalem, approximately 1 million pilgrims (Josephus). In Acts 19, we saw a massive riot break out in Ephesus, and tremendous persecution against Paul from the unbelieving Jews in Ephesus who rejected Jesus as Messiah.

c) We see the attack come from the religious spirit in the form of a religious charge. The account in Acts 21, Acts 22 and Acts 23, give us the most detailed account of the spiritual warfare and religious persecution against Messianic believers. 1 John 2:22 – Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.

d) Let’s look at the charges against Paul. 1 – Paul is being accused of teaching Jews to abandon their cultural traditions, which is a distortion of Paul’s teaching. Paul taught that the traditions and the Law pointed to Messiah, and Jesus fulfilled them. Paul also taught that Gentiles were not required to circumcise, but were accountable to the moral Law of God. See Acts 15. 2 – The second charge is that Paul had defiled the Temple by bringing Gentiles into the Court of Israel. The Court of the Gentiles was the place for Gentiles to worship. At that time there were signs in Greek and Latin that warned that Gentiles entering the Inner Courts were to be put to death.

e) They knew Trophimus (“nutritious”) because he was from Ephesus. The same place as the accusers. Acts 20:4 tells us that Trophimus was accompanying Paul because he was part of the delegation of Gentile representatives who would present their gifts to the Jerusalem Church. Paul mentions this blessing to the Jerusalem Church in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.

Acts 21:30

a) The gates were closed – This refers to the Nicanor Gate and the Beautiful Gate in Herod’s Temple. Paul would have been dragged from the Court of Israel and access to the Court of Women and the Court of Israel were closed.

b) What is in view here is a vicious attack from the religious spirit. What we are witnessing in the text is manifestation in the natural realm of the religious anger in the spiritual realm against God’s people (Paul). Manifestations of the religious spirit are distortions to doctrine, slander/lies, arguments over doctrine and the identity of Jesus Christ, God, or the Trinity, manipulation, control, violence, denial of truth, and having no grace. All of these manifestations will be view as we cover Acts 21, 22, and 23.

c) These people were trying to beat Paul to death and enforce death penalty for being accused of defiling the Temple. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the messenger from satan, was the persecution and the hardship he endured. See 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Acts 21:31-32

a) The Romans were interested in quelling the riot that had broken out on the Temple Mount. They had come from the Antonia Fortress which was located on the northwest corner of the Temple Mount. The fortress was built by Herod and named in honor of Marc Anthony the Roman General. It stood about 115 feet tall and housed approximately 600 Roman soldiers that enforced Roman order in Jerusalem. This was the place where Pilate condemned Jesus to crucifixion.

b) When the Roman’s arrived the crowd stopped beating Paul because they naturally intimidated by the presence of Romans who were going to enforce order. In the First Century, one would not want to be on the receiving end of Roman Law and Justice.

Acts 21:33-36

a) Paul being bound with 2 chains, refers to him being chained to a Roman soldier on each side.

b) The riot was so intense and violence against Paul was so great that the Roman commander could not make any sense concerning the accusation against Paul. We see the manifestation of pure satanic anger against Paul in the form rioting and persecution. Truth rings loud in the halls of quiet contemplation and not in seas of confusion.

c) It is interesting to note that in the same place the crowds were shouting to have Jesus taken away, they were shouting to have Paul taken away and put to death. 2 Corinthians 1:5 – For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. Colossians 1:24 – Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. – Paul intimately knew suffering for the cause of Jesus and he paid a price and helped build the foundation that Church stands on today.

Acts 21:37-38

a) Paul begins a dialogue with the commander to clear up the confusion of his identity. Paul’s motivation is to speak to the crowd and preach the gospel. Paul shares the depth of love that he has for his people in Romans 9:1-3 – I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race,

b) The commander’s reference to Paul being an Egyptian rebel is a reference to a false messiah who led a rebellion against Roman rule in Jerusalem. The riotous crowd may have leveled that accusation against Paul.

c) This person is actually recorded in history by Josephus. Josephus – “There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led roundabout from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him.” – Jesus said there would be false messiah’s and not listen to them. Matthew 24:23 – At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. Matthew 24:26 – “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

Acts 21:39-40 a) Paul clarifies his identity and the Roman commander allows him to speak to the crowd. We gain some insight into how brilliant Paul was. He spoke Aramaic, Latin and Greek. He was a protégé of Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and the most brilliant theologian in First Century Apostolic Christianity. He was from Tarsus, located in modern day Turkey, and was the place that Cleopatra met Marc Anthony. Tarsus was a very prosperous center of Roman culture in the near east. Paul was no ordinary citizen of the Roman Empire. The commander seeing Paul being multilingual, and from Tarsus, communicated to him that Paul was educated and probably an important person.

b) The commander grants Paul permission to speak to the crowd assembled in court of the Gentiles. In the next chapter Paul will begin his testimony and give a mass invitation for Jerusalem to come to Christ. We should note that this is the last mass presentation of the gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem before it’s fall in AD70. God was making His appeal through Paul to His people demonstrating His love and grace for them.

QTI – Session 6 Notes – Rob Covell & Dave Collins

Introduction –

In this Session we will explore Genesis 22 in depth and detail. This is an exciting chapter because in Genesis 22 we see a “proto-gospel” emerge in the text that prophesies the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in glorious detail.

In Genesis 22 we see Abraham emerge as a mature son, who now trusts the LORD to the point of offering Isaac as a sacrifice to the LORD. We should keep in mind that Abraham possess this type of faith by having gone through the process of God fathering him over many years of relationship and encounter. The following theological constructs have emerged as we have travelled through the Genesis narrative.

1 – The LORD is a kind and benevolent Creator and is fatherly to all of His creation.

2 – The LORD has consistently communicated the promise of a Messiah who would redeem humanity from the effect of the Fall.

3 – The LORD relates to His creation in the posture of grace.

4 – The LORD engages His people in a process of fathering them to maturity.

5 – We have the invitation to co-labor with God. Responding to the invitation is our process into maturity of faith and destiny.

6 – The LORD keeps His promises and is immutable in His nature and character.

7 – We have learned to develop a hermeneutic in approaching the interpretation of the Scriptures using allegory, symbolism, literalism when appropriate, and interpreting Old Covenant Scripture in the light of New Covenant fulfillment.

This brief over-view of the theological constructs we have learned over the past 6 weeks have built the foundation from which we can continue to understand and interpret Scripture.

Genesis 22:1

a) Abraham at this point in his life has now received the son of promise Isaac. In addition to this Abraham has overcome his stumble in the account of Abimelech, and Ishmael and Hagar had been released to pursue their promises from God. See Genesis 20 and Genesis 21:17-21.

b) Sending away Hagar and Ishmael was a very difficult decision for Abraham to make. Genesis 21:11 says that this “greatly distressed” Abraham. The Hebrew “DABAR RA`A`”, means: “the word or utterance brought pain/brokenness and sadness” to Abraham because it concerned his son. Many times our mistakes reap the fruit of heartbreak. To move forward with the Lord, we need to make the decision to live in promise and not regret. And we must remember, that which of born of the will of the flesh cannot co-exist with that which is born of the promise. Notice that the Lord encountered Hagar and Ishmael, made them specific promises, and fulfilled them. The grace of God covers all of our immaturity, and no one is ever born without a purpose and destiny.

c) Tested – Hebrew – NACAH (nä·sä’) – to test, to try, or put to the proof. Abraham had
reached the point in his process of being developed by the Lord to where he could lean into the fullness of trust. The Lord possessing all wisdom, knowledge and being omniscient/omnipresent, presented Abraham with the opportunity to realize the fullness of his faith and trust. We should not think that the Lord was presenting Abraham with the opportunity to fail, but with the opportunity to be proved a true and faithful friend of God.

d) The Lord only asks us to respond according to our maturity. The Lord would have never asked Abraham to do something beyond His maturity level. The narrative of Abraham shows us that God is a faithful Father who lovingly develops faith and friendship with His children, that culminates in the fullness of purpose and destiny.

e) Abraham responds to the voice of the Lord. “Here I am”. The Hebrew is literally, “Abraham spoke, behold/see”. This shows us that Abraham had deep intimacy with God, and Abraham invited the Lord to “see him”. Psalm 11:7 – For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

Genesis 22:2

a) God’s mention of Isaac being Abraham’s only son, is figurative language that points our attention the fact that Isaac is the son of promise and the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.

b) Moriah – “Chosen by Jehovah” – Moriah corresponds with Jerusalem and is the eastern side of Jerusalem where Solomon built the Temple. 2 Chronicles 3:1 – Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.

c) We can see the development of a “proto-gospel” being developed in the text that prophesies the gospel through symbolism, type and shadow. Abraham is asked to sacrifice the promised son. A burnt offering was not simply being burned, but was a blood sacrifice and that was to be totally consumed by fire. The burnt offering was offered to God as a display of extravagant sacrifice, because it was a costly sacrifice.

d) John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Hebrews 11:17-19 – By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Genesis 22:3-5

a) Abraham obeys the Lord without hesitation. Abraham models for us the pattern of faith which is to hear and respond. 1 John 2:5 – But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:

b) Cut enough wood – Faith is action word because what we believe to be true plays out in our daily lives. James 2:21-22 – Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

c) Third Day – We see the “3” symbolism again in the text. Three in the Scriptures is number of resurrection, breakthrough, overcoming and new beginnings.

d) Abraham declares faith. Faith begins in the heart, confessed by the mouth and proved in our lives. “We will worship” – Hebrew – SHACHAH – bow down, reverence, worship, figuratively “to depress”. We can see that love, faith and trust have become highly
developed in Abraham’s life. His heart has been conquered by God’s goodness to him.

Genesis 22:6

a) Abraham laid the wood on Isaac’s back. As the “proto-gospel” narrative develops, we see the symbolism of Jesus Christ, the Son of God taking the cross on His back on the way to Calvary. The Son bears the burden of the cross. Hebrews 12:2 – fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

b) Abraham carried the fire and the knife; this is symbolic of the fire of the wrath of the Father in regards to sin, and the wounding of Jesus Christ for our sins. See Isaiah 53.

c) The two of them went together. The Son needed to agree with the Father. See Matthew 26:42 and Philippians 2:6-7.

Genesis 22:7-8

a) Isaac asks Abraham where the sacrifice is. Abraham answers in faith and declares that God Himself will provide. God Himself did provide the sacrifice on Mount Moriah in Jesus Christ. Again we see the “proto-gospel” develop in this narrative. We see the symbolism develop for the concept of Jesus being the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Unbelief would have left the knife at home, but genuine faith takes it”.

b) Salvation is only a work that God can provide. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 John 3:5 – But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.

Genesis 22:9-11

a) It important to note that the Lord showed Abraham the exact location on Moriah (Chosen by Jehovah). Many scholars have agreed that this is probably the location of the Holy of Holies, with the Ark and Mercy Seat located at the place. It would be a fitting location given the specificity in text.

b) This altar would have been made out of dirt and uncut stones. See Exodus 20:24. This seemed to be the patriarchal pattern of altar building. God does not need an altar that is adorned by man because He is to be adored and worshipped. His glory transcends the glory of man.

c) Commentators agree that Isaac was probably in his early thirties at this time. Isaac willingly submitted himself to his Father. In this we see the symbolism of Jesus willing submit to His Father at about the same age. On a side note the age for the ordination of a Levite was 30 (Numbers 4:3). Isaac prophesies the obedient son as fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We honor the faith of Abraham, but it is wise to see the faith of Isaac too.

d) The angel of the LORD calls out from heaven. We should note that this is another theophany of Jesus Christ because of the nature of message and the authority that accompanies the message. Abraham responds immediately to the authoritative voice of God.

Genesis 22:12

a) In the text we see the figurative resurrection of the dead on the third day modeled in Abraham’s willingness to obey the Lord and not spare His promised son. Hebrews 11:17-19 – By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham
reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

b) The reference of Isaac being referred to as a boy, is in reference to his position and not age. The same Hebrew word for servant is the same Hebrew word for young man or boy.

Genesis 22:13-14

a) The Lord provides the sacrifice by providing the ram. Notice that Moses who wrote this narrative identifies this place in the text. We see a play on words in the Hebrew. Moriah, the chosen place by God, Jehovah RA’AH (Jireh), He will be seen or provide. This compound name of God prophesies the one true sacrifice that was revealed and provided in Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

b) The Lord always provides what is necessary when we are partnered with Him.

Genesis 22:15-18

a) From obedience proceeds honor, blessing and promise. The angel of the LORD is obviously a theophany of Jesus Christ because He swears by Himself.

b) The Promise Fulfilled in the Church – Romans 4:16 – Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

c) The Promise of Authority – Your descendants will take possession of the cities/gates of their enemies – This is a prophecy of the authoritative rule and reign of the sons of Abraham fulfilled in the Church. See Matthew 28:18-19 and Ephesians 3:10.

d) Promise of Blessing in All Nations Fulfilled in the Church – Revelation 7:9 – After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Q&A

Group Discussion & Journaling

1 – Reflect on the past 6 Sessions. What were some of the most impactful new theological understandings that ministered to you the most?

2 – In Genesis 22, we see the salvation narrative of Jesus Christ prophesied in the text. Reflect on the past 6 sessions and journal your thoughts on areas that you have been activated in to interpret Scripture on your own using the foundation of Genesis and the symbolism found in the text.

Homework – Write your 3 to 5 page self-reflection paper and turn it in on November 1, 2016.

Acts of the Apostles – Acts 21:17-26 – Week 37 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 21:17-26

Week 37

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will look at Acts 21:17-26. This is a very rich chapter in regards to the unity of the First Century Church and the culture which they lived in. It is easy to simply read over the text and not see the culture of the First Century Church in view. But with some careful research and study these verses come alive with a vivid picture of the Apostolic Era.

Acts 21:17-19

a) Paul accompanied by some of the disciples from Caesarea arrived at Jerusalem and they were received warmly. All through Acts we get glimpses of the Christian unity that was present in the Apostolic Church. Jesus said in John 17:23 – I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. – Our unity is a sign of Christian maturity and love that is a loud voice to the culture around us.

b) This is Paul’s third encounter with the Jerusalem Church led by James, Jesus half-brother according to the flesh, Galatians 1:19 – But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. James was known as James the Just by the Church of Jerusalem. He clearly held apostolic authority over Christianity as the Bishop/Head Elder of the Jerusalem Church. Josephus the Jewish historian mentions James in his Antiquities. James wrote the Epistle of James and was described as having knees like a camel from long hours of prayer. James was martyred, having been accused of breaking the law and tried by the Sanhedrin, he was thrown from the top of the Temple, survived the fall, began to pray “Father forgive them”, and was clubbed to death.

c) Paul told them in detail about his ministry. The Greek word used is EXĒGEOMAI, and in its context, it means “to tell a long detailed narrative”. Paul basically caught up the Jerusalem Church on what was going on the Gentile Church. From the text we can conclude that this meeting was dynamic, because Paul had brought to them the gifts from the Gentile Churches, along with the Gentile representatives of those churches.

Acts 21:20

a) The power of testimonies encourages us to believe bigger, praise louder, and trust in the Lord.

b) We should keep in mind that there were thousands of Jews who accepted Messiah. The gospel is the power to save and deliver the masses.

c) James says in the text that they were all zealous for the law. The Jerusalem Church had Messianic expression of faith that was distinctly different than Gentile expression of faith. The contrast was outlined in detail in Acts 15, when James issued the First Apostolic Decree concerning Gentile believers. The Jerusalem Church still practiced some forms of the Law like circumcision, observing the feasts, taking Nazirite vows, but rejected the sacrificial system and the Levitical priesthood. In the First Century Christianity was not separated from Judaism, but was considered a sect of Judaism.

Acts 21:21

a) We see a distortion in the perception of what Paul was teaching the Gentile Churches. Paul never forbid Jews to circumcise their children. However, Paul defended the uncircumcised Gentile’s acceptance by God, through grace and not the Law.

b) New Covenant Fulfillment – Colossians 2:11 – and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; – Philippians 3:3 – for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, – Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love – Romans 4:11 – and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

c) The distortion of Paul’s teaching to the Gentiles led to a controversy among the Messianic Jews and offense and distrust had taken root. James needed to reconcile Paul to the Messianic Jews and prove he was not against them.

Acts 21:22-25

a) In order to rebuild trust with wider Jerusalem Church, James suggested that Paul sponsor 4 other brothers, pay their purification expenses and join them. We should be reminded that Paul took a Nazirite vow in Acts 18:19, and it is Pentecost in Jerusalem.

b) Numbers 6 – Spiritual truths in the Nazirite vow: 1 – Anyone could set themselves apart for the Lord. He loves relationship. In the midst of the Law, God made a way for the hungry to be close to Him. 2- No cutting the hair or shaving the face. This is symbolic of humility. Becoming unfashionable as a sign of coming close to God. 3 – No alcohol/wine, no grape juice, no raisins – Grapes were the symbol of feasting, worldly joy, and celebration. The Nazirite found his or her enjoyment in the Lord, and not in the party spirit. 4 – No touching the dead – This is symbolic of being separated from that which is corrupted by sin. Death in Jewish culture was seen as the consequence from the Fall. Therefore, the Nazirite vow focused on holiness and purity.

c) The First Apostolic Council led by James was very clear about what was required by Gentiles who believed in Jesus Christ in regards to the Law and Moral Conduct. See Acts 15:23-29.

Acts 21:26-27

a) Paul for the sake of love and Christian unity submitted to the proposal by James. This echoes Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 – To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

b) We should not impute that Paul was contradicting the things he wrote in Galatians. We should however, see that Paul was more interested in love, unity, freedom and protecting the hearts of other believers who practiced a different expression of Christianity.

QTI Session 5 – Rob Covell and Dave Collins

Introduction – In this Session we will continue to look at the life of Abraham in detail and continue develop a Covenant Theology view as we study Genesis 18 and Genesis 19. We will go through Genesis 18 and 19 verse by verse so that we can explore the text in its fullness. We will study the following theological concepts and movements in text:

1- The Identity of the 3 Visitors

2- Covenant Partnership and Co-Laboring with God

3- Intercession by Relationship

4- Mercy versus Judgment

5- The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah 6- The Lord’s Deliverance of Lot and the wages of Compromise

Genesis 18:1-2 – The Identity of the 3 Visitors

a) Mamre – We should note that Abraham is at the trees of Mamre. Mamre in Hebrew means “strength/fatness”. This is a symbolic descriptive of Abraham being in the best place or the place of promise and fullness with God. We can see that Abraham is maturing in his relationship with the Lord and is responding to the Lord’s encouragement of Genesis 17 and posturing himself to receive the promises of his Covenant with God.

b) Abraham bowing low to the ground is more than the cultural custom of showing honor and hospitality. We can assume that Abraham probably noticed this was a supernatural visitation of God because he had encountered the Lord two times previously in Genesis 12:7 and Genesis 17:1.

c) Notice the symbolism of the number 3. 1 – On the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses a matter will be established. 2 – The number of new beginnings, new things, the number of resurrection. 3 – The number of breakthrough and deliverance.

Genesis 18:3-8

a) The language used in Genesis 18:3 indicates that Abraham knew this was the Lord who was appearing to him. This visitation is another theophany/pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. Our proof text is John 1:18 and 1 Timothy 6:16.

b) Notice that this visitation is within a 3-month window. The Lord told Abraham in Genesis 17:21 that within a year he would have a son. The Lord visited Abraham so soon after his last encounter to encourage him and strengthen him in the promise.

c) Abraham follows the cultural custom of his times and offers hospitality to the 3 Visitors. But more importantly, we see Abraham ministering to the Lord. In the previous visitations of the Lord, God ministers to Abraham and gives him promises and encouragements. In this visitation we see God encouraging Abraham, and we see Abraham ministering to the Lord by the invitation to eat with him. This is not sacrifice, but friendship. d) The concept of friendship with God is being highlighted. Psalm 25:14 – The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.

e) The other 2 men with the Lord are angels. We can conclude that angels can appear in human form. See Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Genesis 18:9-12 – Co-Laboring with God

a) The Lord needed to encourage Abraham and Sarah in the promise that they would have Isaac. We do not expressly see it in the text, but it is implied that Sarah and Abraham needed encouragement to have sexual relations in keeping with the promise.

b) Notice that Sarah mentions that she is post-menopause and unbelief is beginning to tear at her heart. H.C. Leupold, the famous professor of Old Testament exegesis translated verse 18:12 – “After I have become worn out, have I enjoyed sexual delight and my lord too is an old man?”

c) Unbelief can bring us to the point where we stop engaging the process of co-laboring with God in the journey and give up on His promises. Faith is proved by action. The text here also reminds us that the Lord will look for opportunities to engage us and remind us to continue to believe.

d) Sarah laughed to herself, or within herself; this exposes her heart and the depths of discouragement and the fruit of unbelief in their lives. They are so close to breakthrough, however, discouragement and delay are robbing them of faith. Isaiah 30:18 – Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Genesis 18:13-15

a) The Lord asks Abraham why Sarah laughed. Notice that the Lord knows the conditions of our hearts. It is mercy and grace for God to come and encourage Abraham and Sarah in the promise and expose their hearts. The Lord knows our hearts and His questions cause us to wrestle with truth. We do not move forward in the promises of God unless we deal with that which needs to be rooted out of hearts. These are the things that prevent us from obtaining the promise. Psalm 44:21 – would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

b) There is nothing too hard for the Lord – Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Matthew 19:26 – Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Genesis 18:16-17

a) It is important to frame this encounter with the Lord in its proper context before we continue on. We know from Scripture that God is omniscient and omnipotent. See Isaiah 40:14, Genesis 1:1, and Ephesians 1:11 for omniscience verses. See Psalm 115:3 for an example of omnipotence. In this encounter we see the Lord acting in a self-limiting way and making statements that disagree with His omniscience and omnipotence. One has to ask, is there a contradiction in the Scriptures and is God limited in His knowledge? This encounter with the 3 visitors should be understood in the following way: The Lord is engaging Abraham in a way that would bring a revelation of His true nature and character in terms of mercy, grace, judgment, and kindness. God is not revealing that He is limited in knowledge or power, but that He is patient, kind, merciful, righteous, full of grace, a friend, and a deliverer to Abraham. The Lord using limiting language is for Abraham’s sake, so that he can learn these things about God by experiencing them.

b) Covenant friendship with the Lord gives us access to the secrets of His heart.

Genesis 18:18-19 – Intercession by Relationship

a) The Lord is speaking to the angels and Abraham is observing the conversation. We see God inviting Abraham into the conversation and we see God fathering Abraham in his journey and process realizing his destiny and obtaining his promise.

b) Notice that God gave Abraham a promise, but Abraham had the responsibility to direct the generations after him to continue to walk in the promise. Abraham’s promise was his children’s promise too. We see another nuance of co-laboring with God and partnering with Him to bring about what is promised.

Genesis 18:20-21

a) We already framed the context of God choosing self-limiting language in this visitation. It becomes apparent now in these verses, that God is not giving us a descriptive of Himself, but an invitation to Abraham to engage God.

b) Sodom and Gomorrah – The condition of Sodom and Gomorrah is sinful and wicked. The Lord is going to contrast judgment and mercy. We should mention that Sodom and Gomorrah become metaphor/symbol of eternal destruction and judgment of wicked in Scripture. See Isaiah 1:9-10, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:48, 2 Peter 2:6, and Revelation 11:8.

Genesis 18:22-33 – Mercy versus Judgment

a) Abraham asks the question if the Lord will sweep away the wicked with the righteous? The question revolves around the goodness of God and His perfection of His Person. This is not a negotiation, but the Lord dialoguing with Abraham so that he might know the mercy and kindness of the Lord contrasted to His righteous judgment.

b) Abraham is concerned for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Covenant partners of God possess God’s heart and are concerned for others. The judgment of God for sin is a very serious terrifying concept. It is so serious that the Lord gave His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for the judgment of sin.

c) Abraham displays boldness in prayer in a heart posture of humility. Abraham was comfortable speaking honestly with the Lord, but maintained reverence and humility towards the Lord at the same time.

d) In this exchange the Lord demonstrates the truth, that He is always just in judgment, will deliver the righteous, is patient with sinners, will engage his friends with the secrets of His heart, and is always good. Hosea 6:6 – For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Genesis 19:1-3 – The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

a) The angels in Genesis 19 are described as being human form. More Scriptural evidence that angels can manifest in human form.

b) Lot sitting in the gate of the city. In ancient culture only people of importance sat in the city gate. The elders of a city rendered legal judgments, executed contracts and controlled the affairs of the city at the gate. See Genesis 24:60, 2 Samuel 15:2, and Amos 5:10.

c) We see the depths of Lot’s compromise in Sodom, being accepted to point of prominence in that city. 2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

d) Lot recognized the wickedness of Sodom and urged the angels/men to stay at his house. The hospitality was cultural; the intensity of the request was not. 2 Peter 2:7-8 – and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); – We can be in compromise and still be acutely aware of right and wrong.

Genesis 19:4-8

a) The depravity of Sodom was so great that these men had gathered to homosexually rape the angels at Lot’s house. The text teaches us the depth at which sin had penetrated the culture of Sodom, at that God’s decision to destroy it was a righteous decision. See Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:24-26 and Galatians 5:19, and 1 Corinthians 6:9 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.

b) We see the sad state of the cultural position of women in the pre-Christian era. Apostolic Christianity liberated women and brought equity to women who are co-heirs with Christ. Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Romans 12:5 – so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Genesis 19:9-11 – The Wages of Compromise

a) Lot’s attempt at bringing conviction to the men of Sodom lacked authority. We have no authority when we partner with the moral compromise in our culture.

b) Lot is delivered by the angels, and the men were struck with blindness. Even the temporal judgment of blindness did not deter their sin and cause repentance. 1 Timothy 4:2 says that people’s consciences can be seared to point of losing the ability to be convicted by sin.

c) The blindness is symbolic of the spiritual blindness of the unredeemed. Ephesians 1:18 – I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, Psalm 18:28 – You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Matthew 6:23 – But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Genesis 19:12-14

a) The angels reveal their mission to Lot. We also see that in addition to the Lord knowing the condition of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is implied in the text that there is intercession to the Lord in regards to the unrighteousness in Sodom and Gomorrah being lifted up to the Lord. The Lord answers the cry of intercession because He loves justice and righteousness.

b) We should note the cultural context of betrothal being shown in the text.

c) Lot was again not taken seriously by his sons-in-laws because of the depth of his compromise. We lose the ability to speak into a culture when we are in the compromise of that culture. Lot could have left Sodom, but instead chose to enjoy the temporal benefit that it brought to him. Lot’s life is summed up well in 1 Corinthians 3:15 – If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Genesis 19:15-17

a) There were only 4 found righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah.

b) Lot hesitating shows us the struggle of the flesh in resisting Lord and His direction for our lives. See Romans 8:7 – The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

c) The Lord’s mercy is in full view in the text. The Lord went to extraordinary lengths to rescue Lot, even in the midst of his compromise. We see the grace of God in full view. d) The command to flee to the mountains and not look back is given to Lot and his family.

Genesis 19:18-22

a) Lot is still trying to negotiate different terms than what was commanded by the angels. This shows us that the spirit of compromise does fall easily in the heart of the one who agrees with it. Lot had a heart for the world and a heart for God, and was unable to move forward without the urging of the angels. We see the condition of the backslidden believer in Lot.

b) Notice that the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, but the angels said they could not do anything. We see the role of angels in carrying out the judgments of God. We see similar ministries of angels in Revelation.

c) The Lord is bound to His word and will not violate His nature and character. Lot had to be delivered from Sodom before the Lord could judge its sin.

Genesis 19:23-26

a) The Lord rained down burning Sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. The overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah becomes a symbol of the everlasting burning/judgment of God in hell/hades. In this narrative the goodness, grace and mercy of God is contrasted to the rebellion and sin of humanity, and God’s righteous judgment in response to sin. The people of that area were familiar with Abraham and Melchizedek and still chose their own way instead of God’s.

b) The geographic location of Sodom and Gomorrah is the region of the Dead Sea.

c) Lot’s wife could not look forward and accept the salvation that the Lord gave her. Looking back was indicative of the condition of her heart in loving that which was condemned and not loving that which is redeemed by God. Her judgment is unique and stands as a testimony for us to consider. Jesus told the Jews to remember Lot’s wife in Luke 17:32, in the context of the overthrow of Jerusalem.

Genesis 19:27-29

a) Abraham saw and learned that the Lord is true to His word. Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

b) We should not assume that the Lord forgot about Abraham. What is being communicated in the text is that God had regard for Abraham and his family and knew how to deliver them from destruction.

Q&A

Group Discussion & Journaling
1 – Consider how the Lord initiated friendship with Abraham and allowed Abraham to minister to Him. How are you ministering to God and in what ways are you engaging God in friendship?
2 – Abraham had a heart that was tender and concerned about people. Are there any areas of your heart that need to softened and conformed to Christ? Is so, ask the Holy Spirit to give you grace in those areas and to reveal how God feels about those areas.
3 – Lot lacked the moral authority to deliver people from destruction because he was compromised. How can the American Church regain moral authority in our nation without becoming legalistic and bound in religious demonstrations that turn people off steal our voice in the same way our compromise steals our voice?
4 – What are your thoughts about God in regards to mercy versus judgment?

Homework – Read Genesis 22 and Galatians

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 21:1-16 – Week 36 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 21:1-16

Week 36

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will begin Acts 21 and study from Acts 21:1-16. We will divide up this chapter into 3 sections so we can take our time and tie all of the context and cultural references together so we can see a humanized Early Church. Acts 22 is a very rich chapter in terms of First Century church culture.

In Acts 21, we see the unity of the Church on full display and we see the New Covenant expression of the prophetic gift in detail that is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. We will focus our attention on revealing what is hidden on plain sight in the text, and be encouraged by culture of the Early Church.

Acts 21:1-3

a) The parting between Paul the Ephesian elders was not an easy parting. Paul loved these leaders and their Church that he planted from a small group of about 12. Ephesus was the high point of Paul’s apostolic ministry and knowing that he would not see them again was difficult for them and Paul.

b) Paul is on his way to Jerusalem to deliver the gifts of the Gentile Churches to the Church in Jerusalem. Paul is trying to make it to Jerusalem by Pentecost.

c) Paul’s company of about 9 people were traveling together. They sailed through a series of port towns and landed at Tyre in Phoenicia/Modern Lebanon. Tyre means “rock” and references the rocky outcropping that Tyre was built upon. Tyre has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and has a rich Biblical History. King David was friends with Hiram the King of Tyre, Jezebel was from Tyre, and there is extensive history in the Bible concerning Tyre including many prophecies in Isaiah, and Joel. Tyre was sieged and destroyed by Alexander the Great, this was prophesied in Isaiah 23, Amos 1:9-10, Zechariah 9:3-4. In the First Century, Tyre continued to be a wealthy merchant port with a deep water harbor that supported international trade.

Acts 21:4-6

a) It is important to note that Acts is only a partial history of the Church. We know very little about how the Church of Tyre was founded, but we do know that the First Century Church was active in evangelizing and establishing the Kingdom of God where ever they went.

b) They are called disciples – Greek – MATHĒTĒS – an avid learner. The marks of true discipleship are being engaged in the process of learning God experientially. A true disciple seeks, dreams and co-labors with God their entire life path.

c) Paul and his companions stayed 7 days. Their company would have had plenty of time to tell the stories of their ministries and local churches as well as tell about their mission to bless the Jerusalem Church.

d) We get a glimpse of the prophetic gift in action in the Early Church. I want point out some observations. 1 – The prophetic was practiced in their community. 2 –
The Holy Spirit was speaking and they were hearing accurately. Their exhortation to Paul not to go to Jerusalem was out of concern for his life. 3 – Their prophetic words were not authoritatively directive, but allowed Paul to the freedom to judge their words and make his own decisions.

e) We can see the unity of the Early Church in their reception and send off of Paul and his group. John 17:23 – I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Acts 21:7

a) Ptolemais – “Warlike” – A port city that was fortified into a Roman Naval base by the Romans constructing a massive breakwater. This was the port in which Vespasian and Titus launched their assault on to put down the Jewish rebellion that began in AD66 and culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70.

b) Note that they find ADELPHOS in Ptolemais. Again we are highlighted to the fact that the Early Church experienced unity and explosive growth and spread far and wide throughout the Roman Empire in a span of 30 years.

Acts 21:8-9

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.

b) Caesarea had an established Christian Community that Paul would have been familiar with. This was the same city which Peter visited Cornelius and the gospel was released to the Gentiles. See Acts 10.

c) Philip the Apostle, one of the Twelve, had settled for a time in Caesarea. He most mentioned in the gospel of John. According to Early Church tradition, Philip preached all over Syria, Greece and Phrygia (Turkey). Philip was martyred in Hierapolis after converting the Proconsul’s wife to Christianity. He was crucified upside down. According to the account of his death, he preached as he suffered on the cross. The reference to Philip being one of the 7 comes to us from Acts 6:3 when the Jerusalem Church chose 7 men to administrate the care of the widows.

d) Notice that Philip’s daughters operated in the prophetic gift. Luke records this for us in Acts, and in light of this we can rightly conclude that Luke and his company experienced their prophetic ministry firsthand. Otherwise he would not have recorded it. By Luke mentioning Philip’s 4 prophetic daughters we see that women were ministering to the First Century Church.

Acts 21:10-14

a) Luke’s account of Agabus’ prophesy to Paul is the most detailed account of a personal prophetic word given to us in Scripture. Agabus is mentioned in Acts 11:28, and it appears from the book of Acts that Agabus had an itinerant prophetic ministry.

b) Let’s look at the mechanics of New Covenant prophesy. 1 – Agabus implemented a prophetic act in taking Paul’s belt and binding his hands and feet with it. 2 – Notice that the “content” or “outcome” of his prophecy was correct. But not fulfilled literally, since the Jews did not arrest Paul, but Romans arrested him. 3 – This shows us that New Covenant prophecy differs compared to the Old Covenant infallible prophetic anointing. 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 teaches us that all prophetic words in an assembly should be subject to being judged by the hearers. In this case Paul judges Agabus’ prophetic word and decides to continue on toward Jerusalem.

c) Paul understood by the Holy Spirit that would suffer many things for the sake of Jesus Christ. Reference Acts 9:15-16, Acts 20:23-24, and 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. In Acts 20:22 Paul said he was bound by the Holy Spirit to go Jerusalem. One begs the question; “why would the Holy Spirit be warning Paul not to go to Jerusalem”? We should see this as a confirmation, and a preparation for Paul.

d) The Lord’s will be done – Greek – Will – THELĒMA – what one wishes or has determined shall be done, of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ, of what God wishes to be done by us. Paul and the company with him entrusted themselves to the purposes of God and surrendered their hearts to the Lord. In Paul’s imprisonment, the gospel message was heard by Felix a Governor/Procurator, Festus a Procurator of Judea, King Agrippa (Herod’s Grandson), and the Roman Caesar Nero who at a later time martyred Paul by beheading him.

Acts 21:15-16

a) The text reveals a link between the Church at Caesarea because they knew to arrange a place for Paul and his companions to stay. Also, Agabus had a connection to the Church at Caesarea because he was ministering there and also in Antioch.

b) Mnason was a Hellenized Jew, an early disciple from the outpouring at Pentecost and a member of the Jerusalem Church. He was from Cyprus, the same place that Barnabus was from, so we may conclude that Mnason was probably known to Barnabus.

QTI – Session 4 – Rob Covell and Dave Collins

Introduction –

In this Session we will continue to develop the salvation narrative through the life of Abraham as we take a macro-view approach in studying Abraham’s life. We will continue to see in detail God fathering Abraham and developing maturity in Abraham through Genesis Chapters 16-17. We can see a clear picture of the Lord as the One who is more committed to our destinies than we are in Genesis chapters 16 and 17. As we study Genesis Chapters 16-17, the following theological constructs are in full view:

1 – Abraham lapsing in faith

2 – God extending grace to both Hagar and Abraham 3 – Abraham and Sarai’s name change

4 – The sign of circumcision

5 – Abraham continuing to mature in faith

Genesis 16:1-4 – Abram Lapses in Faith with Hagar

a) Abram and Sarai lapse in faith by agreeing to try to fulfill the Covenant Promise of God in their own strength. There has been an 11-year time gap from the time the Lord called Abraham up until this point. We are clued into the condition of their hearts in Sarai’s statement, “the Lord kept me from having children”. Her lapse in faith and trust in God’s word revolves around His goodness and His reputation. Isaiah 64:4 – From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

b) The Scriptures highlight to us over and over again the process and journey of faith. The re-occurring themes in Scripture show the beautiful process of God raising sons and daughters of faith and developing them to maturity. Galatians 4:19 – My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

c) Hagar – Hagar – “Flight” – Hagar came into Abram’s household from his fleeing to Egypt. That which is obtained in haste, flight, or distrust in God, bears consequences on our lives.

d) Cultural Context – It was common in the ancient world to have maidservants have surrogate children for their masters to build up their family. This was a commonly accepted practice due the tribal nature of their culture. To build one’s tribe, meant strength, protection and the guarantee of future generations and wealth. We can reference Genesis 30:3 KJV – And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. This verse details the cultural reference in greater detail. The surrogate wife/mother would conceive while sitting on the lap of the adoptive mother as sign of surrogacy.

e) Childbearing in the ancient world was thought to prove God’s pleasure and blessing on a woman. The ability to bear children brought status to her as well. When Hagar conceived so easily, it was apparent that the issue was Sarai and not Abram. Hagar despised Sarai and considered her less than herself because she was with child.

Genesis 16:5-6

a) Sarai rightly blames Abram for the result of this situation. However, Abram continues his error by placing Hagar in Sarai’s hands to mistreat. This highlights the truth that the result of our sins often complicate our lives and produce complex situations that have tremendous consequences that affect our own lives as well as the lives of others. See James 1:13-15.

b) Hagar flees in keeping with her name.

Genesis 16:7-10

a) The Angel of the Lord – This would be another theophany/Christophany of the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Our clue to identify the Angel of the Lord lies in Genesis 16:13, where the Angel is clearly referenced in context of the covenant name of God. John 1:8 and 1 Timothy 6:16 teach us that no one has seen the Father. So we can rightly conclude that anytime God appears in human form, or becomes manifest, that this is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ appearing to people.

b) Notice that the Lord pursued Hagar and met her in her difficult circumstances. This highlights the truth that God loves the downcast, pursues those who are hurting and is interested in comforting us in our troubles. God is good in all things.

c) Wilderness and Shur – Hagar “fled” to the desert/wilderness and Shur means “Wall”. We have a play on words that God meets us in the wilderness when we are up against the wall.

d) The Lord tells Hagar to go back and submit and gives her a promise for obeying His word. Notice that there is blessing in humility and God’s grace is in view as the Lord gives Hagar a promise for returning. Psalm 25:9 – He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Genesis 16:11-12

a) Ishmael is the first person who is named by God before their birth. The Lord names Ishmael as a reminder to Hagar that God “hears” us in our troubles.

b) Ishmael became the father of the Arabic people groups. The reference to Ishmael being a wild donkey of a man, references the difficulties he would face in his life. To extrapolate this declaration out to include the Jewish versus Arab conflict today is to discount the New Covenant in which all people are invited into relationship by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Church history is full of Ishmaelite descendants that were great servants of God. We can look at St. Anthony, and Athanasius of Alexandria as examples of God’s redemptive work for all people groups. Mark brought Christianity to Egypt and the Arabic people. In fact, Alexandria, Egypt played a very significant role in Christian scholarship and theology. Today’s Jewish versus Arab conflict originates from Islam’s view of the Jewish people and the political state of Israel; and not a generational curse from God. To view the Arab people groups as enemies is to discount the grace of the cross and condemn that which the Lord suffered for.

Genesis 16:13-16

a) In the last Session we learned that the Covenant Name of God, I AM, implies 2 thoughts. 1 – God possesses life within Himself, the Everlasting, Self-Existent One. 2 – God is the “Becoming One”. We see this truth in Hagar’s declaration that God is the One who sees her.

b) Kadesh – “Holy” – Bered – “Hail” – Beer Lahai Roi – “Well of the Living One who sees me”. We have another play on words in the Hebrew. The One who sees me is found between holiness and worship.

c) The well is a geographic marker or testimony that reminds us and the generations to come of the good things God has done for us. There is power in recalling the testimonies of God in our lives. 2 Kings 23:3 – The king (Josiah) stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.

Genesis 16:17-18

a) We can see from the text that Hagar related the encounter to Abram, and Abram being a man of faith named Ishmael according to the word of the Lord.

Genesis 17:1 – The Covenant of Sign of Circumcision

a) El Shaddai – God the Almighty – This is a compound name of God that implies 2 truths about God. Notice that God calls Himself or reveals Himself to Abram that He is God Almighty. 1 – Hebrew SHADAD – All powerful, or the One who has His hand on everything. 2 – Hebrew – SHAD – Chest, or the breasted One who gives the comfort, care and nourishment of a mother.

b) Notice that it is implied in the text that Abram needed this type of revelation of God because a significant amount of time (13yrs) had transpired since the fall with Hagar and Abram probably needed encouragement in waiting on the promises of God.

c) Blameless – Hebrew – TAMIYM – complete, whole, entire, sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity d) The Lord is inviting Abram to find his sufficiency in the Lord and trust Him. In light of who God is to Abram, Abram can live in wholeness from that revelation of God. Our experiential knowledge of God empowers us to live from wholeness. See Ephesians 1:17-22.

Genesis 17:2-8

a) Notice that it is God who confirms His promises to His people. This teaches us that the Lord is trustworthy and good.

b) Abram worships in response to his encounter with God.

c) The Lord gives Abram a name change. The Lord relates to us in the context of our destinies in Him. Abram means “exalted father” and Abraham means “father of many”. We have other examples in Scripture where the Lord makes a name change to impart identity, destiny and hope into people’s lives. The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32:28, the Lord changed Simon’s name to Peter in Mark 3:16, the Lord changed Solomon’s name to Jedidiah, and the Lord will change our names in Revelation 2:17.

d) Notice that God sees Abraham as the father of many nations already. The Lord sees beginning from end.

Genesis 17:9-14

a) Circumcision – It is the symbolism/sign of cutting off the flesh/sin nature, and the sign of the one who belongs to God. In the context of the culture, the circumcised one would constantly be reminded of his moral obligation to God as a Covenant Partner with God. The New Testament parallel to circumcision is baptism.

b) New Testament Fulfillment – Colossians 2:11 – and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; – Philippians 3:3 – for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, – Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love – Romans 4:11 – and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,

c) The eighth day – Doctors note that newborns are better equipped to heal and their blood is developed enough to clot properly at 8 days after birth. God is smart!

Genesis 17:15-16

a) Sarai becomes Sarah – The “princess” becomes the “noblewoman”. Again we see the Lord calling that which is not, as though it is. In Sarah’s culture she was not noble because of her barrenness. God imparts that which are not by grace into our lives.

b) The Lord will bless her – Hebrew – BARAK – bless, to praise, to speak divine favor over. The Lord is clearly moving by grace in Abraham and Sarah’s lives, showcasing Himself as the One who is good.

Genesis 17:17-22

a) From the context of the Hebrew text, most commentators see Abraham falling down in worship with the laughter of joyful praise to God and not a sarcastic response to the promise.

b) The Lord names Isaac before his birth. Isaac means “laughter”, which reminded Abraham of the joy of the Lord in fulfilling His promise to Abraham and Sarah. Isaac is later developed in Genesis as a proto-Messiah in Genesis 22.

c) The Lord honors Ishmael because he is a son of Abraham. However, not the covenant son. This demonstrates God’s grace in fullness by showing us the one who had no promise, obtains a good promise from the Lord. We should be reminded that the Lord promised Abraham in Genesis 12:2 that “you will be a blessing”. Everything surrounding Abraham was blessed. We should expect the same spiritual atmosphere around us because we are New Covenant people of God who are relating to God in a grace based Covenant.

d) The Lord gives Abraham a final encouragement and a time frame of fulfillment to encourage him.

Genesis 17:23-27

a) Abraham is growing in grace. The evidence is Abraham’s quick obedience to the Lord. 1 Samuel 15:22 – Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams.

b) Obedience to the Lord is the fruit and proof of our maturity of faith. Our onramp for obeying the Lord flows through relationship. Galatians 5:16 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Q&A

Group Discussion & Journaling
1 – Considering the narrative of Abram and Sarai lapsing in faith in using Hagar as a surrogate; in what ways has the Lord Jesus showed grace to you when you have lapsed in faith?

2 – Hagar named the well in the wilderness Beer Lahai Roi as a testimony to future generations to remind them of God’s goodness in her life. Recall the times in your life where the Lord intervened and consider the power of those testimonies in yours and other people’s lives. Write them in your journal and meditate on God’s goodness.

3 – Consider the sign of circumcision paralleled to your baptism experience. In what ways has the Holy Spirit circumcised your heart and cut off the desire of the flesh? What areas of your life does the Holy Spirit desire to remove so that may grow in greater maturity?

4 – What promises of God are you waiting on in this season? In what ways can we begin to value the process of God in our lives and find joy in the waiting?

Homework – Read Genesis 18 and 19