BL - 33 Acts of Apostles

Title of the Book
  Luke wrote this book as a continuation of the gospel of Luke (Act 1:1 ; Lk. 1 : 1-4).  This book is really the second volume of Luke’s work.  In ancient times, the authors often divided their works up into volume of books.  (Ex : The Jewish historian Josephus wrote his ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ in 20 books).  Probably at the end of the first century, the second volume of Luke’s work received the title “The Acts of the Apostles”.
Importance of this Book
  Every Christian must study thoroughly this book so that he can understand the background of epistles in the New Testament.  Acts bridges the gap between the gospels and epistles.  It especially narrates how the church began on the day of Pentecost and grew in the early part of first century.
A.  Internal evidence
Comparing Acts 1 : 1-2 with Luke 1 : 1-4, one can clearly understand that Luke was the author of this book.  As a physician, Luke has used a numbr of medical terms (Col. 4 : 11,14).  More over the “we” sections (Act 16 : 10-17 ; 20 : 5 – 21 : 18 ; 27 : 1-28 : 16)indicate  that this book was written by a travelling companion of Paul.  Luke was also a travelling companion.
B.  External evidence
Many early church fathers (Disciples of Apostles) like Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200 AD) believed and mentioned in their writings, that Luke was the author of Acts.
Date of the Book
Acts 28:30 records  the second year of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (c. 61-62 AD).  More over, there is no record of Nero’s persecution after the burning of Rome which took place in 64 AD.  Since this persecution was not recorded, Luke might have written this book before 64 AD.
Purpose of this Book
Primarily Luke wrote to Theophilus who was his patron and who was a rich converted Christian.  Theophilus wanted to know the things of Christ and of church with certainity.  So Luke collected all information concerning Christ from apostles and wrote his gospel (Lk. 1 : 1-4); in continuation of that, he wrote the further accounts of Christ after resurrection and the activities of apostles especially of Peter and of Paul.
Secondarily, he wrote it with apologetic purpose to defend Christian faith based on true history and facts.
General outline of Acts of Apostles
I.                   Introduction 1 : 1-2
II.                Infallible proofs of Resurrected Christ 1 : 3-14
  1. Appearance of Christ after resurrection 1 : 3-8
  2. Ascension of Jesus Christ 1 : 9-11
  3. Anticipation to the promised Holy Spirit 1 : 12-14
  • Assembly of Apostles 1 : 15-26
  1. Birth of the New Testament Church 2 : 1-47
    1. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit 2 : 1-4
    2. The narration of events 2 : 5-13
    3. Peter’s First message to the Jews 2 : 14-41
      1. Explaining the event 2 : 14-21
      2. Essence of the message 2 : 22-36
      3. Peter’s call to the Jews 2 : 37-41
    4. Practices of Jerusalem Church 2 : 42-47
  2. Growth of the church in the Jewish Areas 3 : 1-12 : 25
    1. Early ministry of Apostles 3 : 1-26
    2. Early opposition to apostles 4 : 1-31
    3. Economical encouragement of believers 4 : 32-37
    4. Dishonest believers 5 : 1-11
    5. Increase in the number of believers 5 : 12-16
    6. Apostles arrested 5 : 17- 42
      1. Arrest and Trial 5 : 17-40
      2. Apostles rejoiced 5 : 41-42
    7. Appointment of Deacons 6 : 1-7
    8. First Martyr Stephen 6 : 8-8:4
      1. Stephen before council 6 : 8-7:1
      2. Stephen Testimony before the council 7 : 2-53
      3. Stephen stoned to death 7 : 54-60
      4. Stephen’s martyrdom scattered disciples 8 : 1-4
    9. Ministry of Philip 8 : 5-40
      1. Witness to the Samaritans 8 : 5-25
      2. Witness to the Ethiopian 8 : 26-40
    10. Conversion of Paul 9 : 1-31
    11. Development of Ministry in Philistine 9 : 32-10:48
      1. Peter’s ministry in Lydda 9 : 32-35
      2. Peter’s ministry in Joppa 9 : 36-43
      3. Peter’s ministry to Cornelius 10 : 1-48
    12. Peter’s explanation to Jerusalem Church 11 : 1-18
    13. Church in Antioch of Syria 11 : 19-26
    14. Famine Relief in Jerusalem 11 : 27-30
    15. Increase of Persecution and Divine intervention 12 : 1-25
  3. Growth of the Church in gentile areas 13 : 1 – 28 : 31
    1. Missionaries ordained and sent 13 : 1-3
    2. Ministry of Paul and Barnabas 13 : 4 – 14 : 28
      1. In Cyprus 13 : 4-13
      2. In Antioch of Pisidia 13 : 14-50
      3. In Iconium 13 : 51-14 : 5
      4. In Lystra 14 : 6 – 20
      5. In return trip (Derbe – Antioch) 14 : 21-28
    3. Jerusalem council 15 : 1- 29
      1. Debate over Gentiles, keeping Mosaic law 15 : 1-5
      2. Peter preached salvation by grace 15 : 6-12
      3. James summary of council 15 : 13-21
      4. Declaration of council 15 : 22-29
    4. Council’s Declaration presented in Antioch church 15 : 30-35
    5. Separated Missions of Paul and Barnabas 15 : 36-41
    6. Timothy joined in Paul’s ministry 16 : 1-5
    7. Macedonian call and Paul’s ministry 16 : 6-19 : 20
      1. Macedonian call 16 : 6-10
      2. Ministry at Philipi 16 : 11-40
      3. Ministry at Thessalonica 17 : 1-9
      4. Ministry at Berea 17 : 10-15
      5. Ministry at Athens 17 : 16-34
      6. Ministry at Corinth 18 : 1-17
      7. Ministry at Ephesus 18 : 18-22
    8. Beginning of Paul’s third Missionary trip 18 : 23-28
    9. Two years of Ministry of Paul at Ephesus 19 : 1-20
    10. Paul’s further plans for ministry 19 : 21-22
    11. Opposition to Paul in Ephesus 19 : 23-41
    12. Paul’s returning trip to Macedonia and Achaia 20 : 1-5
    13. Ministry in Troas 20 : 6-12
    14. Farewell to Ephesian Elders in Miletus 20 : 13-38
    15. Paul’s return to Jerusalem 21 : 1-16
    16. Paul arrested in Jerusalem 21 : 17-23 : 22
      1. Paul’s meeting with James and elders 21 : 17-26
      2. Paul’s arrest in the temple 21 : 27-36
      3. Paul’s defense before the Jews 21 : 37-22:22
      4. Paul’s claim of his Roman citizenship 22 : 23-29
      5. Paul’s defensive argument before the Sanhedrin 22 : 30-23:11
      6. Jewish plot to kill Paul 23 : 12-22
    17. Paul’s imprisonment and defenses in Caesarea 23 : 23-26 : 32
      1. Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea 23 : 23-35
      2. Paul’s trial before Felix 24 : 1-27
      3. Paul’s trial before Festus 25 : 1-22
      4. Paul’s trial before Herod Agrippa-II. 25 : 23-26 : 32
    18. The Journey (Voyage) to Rome 27 : 1-28 : 16
      1. From Palestine to Crete 27 : 1-12
      2. Euroclydon and Shipwreck 27 : 13-44
      3. Paul witnessed in Malta 28 : 1-10
      4. Paul arrived in Rome 28 : 11-16
    19. Paul’s life in Rome 28 : 17-31
      1. Paul’s meeting with the Jewish Leaders 28 : 17-29
      2. Paul’s ministry in Rome 28 : 30-31
I.       Introduction. 1 : 1-2
v : 1 –          ‘Former book / account’ here refers to the gospel of Luke (Lk. 1 : 1-4).  Luke wrote this book to Theophilus, who gave financial support to Luke to write his books.  Theophilus means ‘beloved of God’
v: 2 – ‘Until the day’ refers to 40th day after resurrection on which he ascended to heaven after giving great commission to apostles (1 : 3 ; Mt. 28 : 19-20)
II.      Infallible proofs of Resurrected Christ 1 : 3-14
  1. Appearance of Christ after resurrection. 1 : 3-8
v : 3 – Infallible proofs – There were many eye witnesses for the real physical resurrection of Jesus.  1 Cor. 15 : 5-8.  Jesus stayed in the earth for 40 days to prove his resurrection. 
v : 4 – ‘wait’ in Greek means ‘stay’.  ‘Promise of the Father here refers to the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14 : 16,17,26 ; 15 : 26 ; 16 : 7).
v : 5 –  There was no baptism of Holy Spirit in Old Testament.  So Jesus said the disciples to wait  and to stay in Jerusalem for a few more days for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
vv : 6-7 – Kingdom refers to the promised Land where King Messiah will rule Israel from Jerusalem.  Jesus did not tell them when this Kingdom would be given to Israel.
v : 8 – When they receive power, they have to witness beginning from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and finally to the whole world.  As Jesus said in this statement, the church began in Jerusalem and spread all over the world.  Hence this verse is key to understand this book.
B.   Ascension of Christ . 1 : 9-11
Jesus Christ ascended into heaven from Mt. Olivet (v : 12) before the eyes of Apostles (Mk. 16 : 19 ; Lk. 24 : 50-51).  ‘Men of Galilee’ refers to eleven apostles who were originally from the region of Galilee.
  1. Anticipation to the promised Holy Spirit 1 : 12-14
From Mt. Olivet, the disciples went into the upper room to stay in Jerusalem as Jesus said.  This upper room might be either Passover room (Lk. 22 : 12) or the room where Christ appeared to the disciples after resurrection (Lk. 24 : 33-43).  Mother and brothers of Jesus joined in this group.
III.    The Assembly of Apostles 1 : 15-26
One hundred disciples including eleven apostles assembled.  Peter led them and motivated them to elect one apostle instead of Judas.  They decided the following criteria to select a New Apostle.
  • He must have participated in Christ’s earthly Ministry (21)
  • He should be an eye witness for the resurrection of Christ (22).
Based on these criteria, they cast lot and selected Matthias.
Note :  Casting lot was an Old Testament Jewish practice.  (Lev. 16 : 8 : Pro. 16 : 33).  After the day of Pentecost, Christians never practiced this.  Instead, Christians followed God’s word to know God’s will.
IV.    Birth of the New Testament Church 2 : 1-47
  1. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit 2 : 1-4
Pentecost is a special day for the Jews.  It is 50 days after Jewish Passover.  As Jesus predicted, all   one hundred twenty disciples were baptized by the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit first baptized the disciples, the Holy Spirit came with two physical evidences; sound of wind and Fire-like tongues.  All were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke in other languages.  Other language means any language which might not be the mother tongue of speaker.  The church began with hundred and twenty believers including apostles.
Note :  The   Church began by the baptism of Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  This is the First Bible Church of the New Testament Times.
  1. The narration of events 2 : 5-13
They spoke the wonderful works of God (11).  The listeners came from various regions (9-11), having different mother tongues.  But all could understand what disciples spoke.
  1. Peter’s First message to the Jews 2 : 14-41
  1. Explaining the event 2 : 14-21
v : 14-15 – Jewish third hour is our 9.00 A.M. in the morning.  In those days none used heavy drinks in early morning.
v : 16-21 – Peter just quoted prophet Joel (2 : 28-32).  Although Peter quoted Joel, this event was not the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.  Because some of the events like blood, vapor of smoke, the sun turning into darkness and the moon into blood which Joel prophecied did not happen on the day of Pentecost.  Hence the events of Pentecost, probably a partial fulfillment of prophecy of Joel.
  1. Essence of Peter’s message 2 : 22-36
The essence and center theme of message is Jesus Christ, His works on earth (22), His physical resurrection (23-32).  King David predicted this resurrection in Psalm 16 : 8-11, as Peter quoted (Ps. 68 : 18 ; 110 : 1).  Peter made it clear that Jesus ascended to heaven and is seated on the throne as the Lord and Christ (36).
  1. Peter’s call to the Jews to repent 2 : 37-41
Having given the scriptural evidences, and evidence of miracles to Jesus messiahship, Peter appealed and called the Jews to repent and to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.  Those who believed Jesus Christ as their only saviour received baptism.  On the same day, the church added 3000 souls.  Total 3120 members including 120 disciples (1 : 15) were the believers in the first Jerusalem church.
  1. Practices of Jerusalem Church 2 : 42-47
v : 42 – The first Bible church performed four spiritual duties after baptism; (i) Continued in apostles teaching (ii) Fellowship (iii) Breaking of bread (iv) Prayers
v : 43 – The apostles of Jesus Christ did many miracles.
v : 44-45 – Selling of property and giving it to church was not compulsory.  Believers were not forced to sell their properties.  But if they wanted they could sell a part of their possessions (Compare 2 : 46 ; 5 : 42 ; 12 : 12 ; 5 : 4).  Barnabas sold only his field not all his property (4 : 34-37).
v : 46-47 – Temple court refers to the open court area of the temple of Jerusalem. Early Christians went to Jerusalem temple (3 : 1 ; 5 : 19-20 ; 21 : 26).  They also worshiped God daily in the Temple.
V.      Growth of the church in the Jewish Area 3 : 1-12:25
  1. Early Ministry of Apostles 3 : 1-26
v : 1 – ‘the hour of prayer’.  The Jews prayed three times (i) Early morning prayer in connection with the morning prayer and sacrifice (ii) Evening prayer at 3.00 P.M. (Jewish ninth hour) in connection with evening sacrifice (ii) Prayer at sunset.  Nineth hour refers to our 3.00 P.M.
v : 2-8  – This true miracle was done by apostles in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  The Jewish authorities hated the name “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”.  So Apostles used this title to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was once crucified (Jn. 19 : 19 ; Mt. 27 : 37).  The miracles and signs proved that the message of apostles concerning Christ was true (Heb. 2 : 3-4).  They healed a man of 40 years of age (4 : 22).
v : 9-26 – Having seen the true miracle, people ran together to apostles.  Peter used this opportunity to preach about Jesus Christ.  Peter in his message presented Jesus Christ as ‘God’s servant (13,26), the Holy one (14), The Prince of Life (15)’.  Peter also said that Jesus Christ is the one whom all prophets including Moses Forehtold (21-24).  Jesus Christ means ‘the anointed saviour’.
  1. Early opposition to Apostles 4 : 1-31
v : 1 – Sadducees were a Jewish aristocratic Sect.  This was the Jewish Sect which first persecuted the church.  They and high Priests (5,6) came to enquire about this miracle.  Peter used this opportunity also to testify about Jesus Christ of Nazareth (10).
v : 11 – ‘Stone which was rejected by the builders’ was a type to the crucifixion of Christ.  ‘The chief cornerstone’ means ‘the Rejected Christ is the Lord of the Church.  (Ps. 118 : 22 ; Is. 28 : 16 ; Eph. 2 : 20).
v : 13 – ‘Uneducated’ means that the apostles did not have any formal rabbinic training.  “Untrained” means that apostles were common laymen, not experts in Jewish theology.  But they knew to read and write.
vv : 18-22 – Although the authorities warned them, apostles politely answered them their decision (19,20).
v : 23-31 – When Apostles reported to the church, they praised God and prayed God for strength to overcome persecution.  As the result of prayer, they all were filled with the Holy Spirit and preached God’s word boldly.
C.     Economical Encouragement in the early church 4 : 32-37
Early Christians, especially rich Christians sold a part of their possessions and brought it to the church, so that the poor could have share.  This income helped the poor apostles to care their daily needs and to go for mission trips.  The practice of selling the property was neither commanded by God or by apostles.  This practice was a voluntary act of believers.  The apostles accepted this act of believers so that the needy might be helped (35).
  1. Dishonest believers 5 : 1-11
Ananias and Sapphira were early Christian believers.  They themselves sold their possessions.  Nobody compelled them to sell their property.  Although they had sold voluntarily, they hid a portion for themselves.  They could have told this fact to apostles, but they told lie, hidden a portion of income.  God punished them so that the church might grow with discipline and the believers might believe and respect Apostles and their authority.
v : 3-4 – Lied to the Holy Spirit = lied . . . . to God.  This passage is a proof that the Holy Spirit is God; third person of Holy Trinity.
  1. Increase in the number of believers 5 : 12-16
Although the Jewish authorities had already warned them (4 : 18), the apostles continued doing miracles, and preaching Jesus Christ.  True believers joined in the church (14).  Apostles healed all those who came with sickness.  Probably God used the shadow Peter to heal people (v : 15 ; 19 : 12)
  1. Apostles Arrested 5 : 17 – 42
  1. Arrest and Trial 5 : 17 – 40
The Jewish rulers arrested all apostles (18).  But God miraculously delivered them all.  Immediately, they went and preached in the temple.  Again, the Jewish officers brought the apostles to Sanhedrin.  Sanhedrin is the Supreme Court of Jews.  They arrested them for two complaints (i) Apostles violated the previous order of Sanhedrin (4 : 18) (ii) Apostles blamed the Jewish leaders for the death of Jesus (Act  2 : 23,36 ; Mt. 27 : 20-25).
Pharisees were strong followers of traditions of Moses.  They were opposite group to Sadducees.  But, these both groups joined together to arrest apostles.  Pharisees were led by scribes.
Gamaliel :  He was a famous rabbi (Jewish religious teacher).  Paul also studied under him (Act. 22 : 3).  The Samhedrin accepted Gamaliel’s advice and released the apostles.
  1.      Apostles rejoiced 5 : 41-42
They praised God and preached about Christ daily in the temple and house to house.  They went door-by-door to teach about Christ.
  1. Appointment of Deacons 6 : 1-7
v : 1 – The Hebrew Jews were native of Jerusalem and they spoke Hebrew and followed Jewish culture.  On the other hand, Grecian Jews were the Jews who came from other countries and settled in Jerusalem.  They spoke Greek and their culture was mixture of Jewish and Grecian culture.  They had separate synagogue (6:9).  The Hellenists refers to Greek speaking Jews.
Both Hebrew speaking and Greek speaking Jews were in the first church at Jerusalem.  The Hebrew speaking Christian Jews neglected the Greek speaking Christian Jews.  This brought problem between them.  To solve this problem, Apostles appointed deacons to serve the tables.  “Laid hands on them” refers to apostles’ authority, responsibility, fellowship and commissioning to service.
Note : Although the word deacon was not used in original Greek for these men, they were really deacons.  Since the spiritual affairs were under the leadership of apostles (6:2), they did not appoint Pastors in Jerusalem church but they appointed only deacons.  In all other churches, they first appointed Pastors and then deacons (Phil. 1 : 1 ; 1 Tim. 3 : 8-13, Tit. 1 : 5).  The apostles appointed deacons and Pastors, but they did not appoint prophets.  But God used prophets in the early church in Jerusalem.
  1. First Martyr Stephen   6 : 8 – 8 : 4
  1. Stephen before the council 6 : 8-7:1
The Greek speaking Jews who came from neighbouring regions of Judea settled in Jerusalem, having their own synagogue.  Probably Stephen preached about Christ in their synagogue.  So they caught and brought him before the council (Sanhedrin).  They charged him with two accusations that he spoke against (i) the Law of Moses (ii) the temple.  These were the charges on Jesus too. (Jn. 2 : 19 ; Mt. 26 : 60-61).
  1. Stephen’s testimony before the council 7 : 2-53
When Stephen presented his testimony for his faith on Jesus Christ, he explained God’s gracious activity about the basic symbols of Jewish faith.  Three basic symbols of Jewish faith are (i) the Holy land (ii) the law of Moses (iii) the temple of Jerusalem.  Stephen presented following arguments to in his defense of faith.
  1. The holy land 7 : 2-36 – The Jews believed God can work and bless only within the boundaries of Israel. But Stephen  argued that God’s activities are beyond boundaries.  God can work even far away from the holy land.  He presented three examples how God acted beyond the boundaries of holy land in the history of Israel.
    1. God called and blessed Abraham when he was in Ur of Mosapotamia (2-8).
    2. God Blessed Joseph in Egypt (9-16)
    3. God was with Moses in Egypt (17-22) in Midian (23-29) in the deserts of Mount Sinai (30-34), and in his journey to the promised land via the Red Sea (35-36).
By presenting this argument, he proved God is not only for Israel in holy land but for the whole people of the universe.
(ii)     The Law of Moses 7 : 37-43.  Next to the  holy land, the Jews venerated the law of Moses.  So they accused Stephen for rejecting Moses and the law.  Stephen argued that he had not, but the Jews had rejected the prophecy of Moses and law.  Moses said in Deuteranomy 18:15-18, that God would raise another prophet like him, you must listen to him.  “This another prophet” is Jesus Christ, Himself.  Even then, the Jews did not believe Jesus Christ.  So Stephen charged them that by rejecting Christ, the Jews really reject Moses and the law.
  • The temple of Jerusalem 7 : 44-50. As the Jews venerated the holy land and the law, they venerated the temple.  The temple was the symbol of their faith and pride.  But Stephen argument was that Jesus is greater than the Temple (Mt. 12 : 6).
v : 51-53 –  Stephen’s argument was historical, factual, and scriptural.  He said that the Jews resist the Holy Spirit by rejecting Jesus Christ.  He charged them for their gross failure that they learnt nothing from the past and that they killed Jesus as they had killed prophets.
  1. Stephen Stoned to death 7 : 54-60
v : 55 – He was filled with the Holy Spirit so that he could bear their stoning.  Jesus comforted him by granting a special vision to Stephen.
Note :  This stoning was probably an illegal action of angry mob, because they stoned him to death without consulting the Romans.  The Romans were the rulers in that time.  For any legal punishment, the Jews must consult the Romans as they did in the case of Jesus.  But in Stephen’s case, they did not.  Hence it was the illegal punishment.  This stoning was violation of Roman law.
  1. Stephen’s martyrdom scattered the disciples 8 : 1-4
As the result of Stephen’s martyrdom, the disciples scattered from Jerusalem and preached the gospel in Judea and Samaria.  By this scattering, God started fulfilling Acts 1 : 8.  But the apostles only remained in Jerusalem (1) we do not know why apostles remained in Jerusalem when other Christians scattered.
  1. Ministry of Philip 8 : 5-40
  1. Witness to the Samaritans 8 : 5-25
Philip was a deacon and evangelist (Act 6 : 1-5 ; 21 : 8).  He preached Christ in Samaria.  God did some miracles through him. 
Samaritans : They were greatly despised by the Jews because they deviated from orthodox Judaison.  They also married and mixed with non-Jews especially Assyrians.  So the Jews did not have any dealing with the Samaritans (Jn. 4).  However, when Philip preached Christ, they accepted and believed Christ.
v : 14-17 – When the Samaritans were saved, they might have received the Holy Spirit inwardly.  Because None can accept Christ as the Lord without the work of Holy Spirit inwardly (I Cor. 12 : 3).  Since the Samaritans were despised by the Jews, the Apostles probably had hesitation to add them into the church.  So the Jerusalem church sent Peter and John on the fact finding mission.  In order to remove their hesitation, God poured the Holy Spirit outwardly as on Pentecost on the Samaritans.  If the apostles had not seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Samaritans, they would have hesitated to add them into the church.  But, having seen the outpouring of Holy Spirit, the apostles gladly added them into the church.  By this, the church grew in New territories as the Lord predicted (1 : 8).
v : 18-25 – Simon, the sorcerer was not a true believer.  He believed as demons believe (Jam 2 : 19).  He later became the leader of false teaching, named Gnosticism.
  1. Witness to the Ethiopian 8 : 26-40
Ethiopian Eunuch : He was a married man for he worshiped in temple.  Because unmarried eunuch can not enter into the temple of Jerusalem to worship (Deut. 23 : 1).  The term “eunuch” was used to refer officers as Potiphar (Gen. 39 : 1).  Probably this Eunuch was the financial officer or minister of Ethiopia.
v : 38-39 –  The phrases “went down into the water” and “came up out of the water” could certainly refer to immersion.  Hence the word “baptizo” means “do dip” into water.  He took immersion baptism after having faith on Christ.
J.       Conversion of Paul 9 : 1-31
Damascus is about 250 Km. from Jerusalem.  Paul could have travelled from 4 to 6 days to Damascus where he was met by the Lord.  After his conversion, he preached immediately about Christ.  So the Jews attempted to kill kim.  He escaped to Arabia for three years as indicated by the phrase  after many days (22-25).  After staying in Arabia, he came to Jerusalem (Gal. 1 : 17-18).  But the disciples except Barnabas were afraid of him.  So he probably stayed in Jerusalem for fifteen days (v : 28 ; Gal. 1 : 18).  Then he went to his home town Tarsus (30), and probably remained in Tarsus until Acts. 11 : 25.  This period covers about seven to nine years.
  1. Development of Ministry in Remote areas of Philistine 9 : 32-10:48
  1. Peter’s Ministry in Lydda 9 : 32-35
After the death of Stephen, the disciples scattered from Jerusalem except apostles (8:1).  But in Acts. 9 : 32, Peter, himself went to remote Jewish villages (Lydda) and  preached the gospel while staying in Lydda.
  1. Peter’s ministry in Joppa 9 : 36-43
Since the disciples of Joppa town called, Peter went there.  There also, he did a miracle by rising Tabitha.  Tabitha is Aramaic name for Dorcas (Greek name).  These names mean Gazelle (A deer).  In those days, they used to change the name to suit the meaning according to the language.
  1. Peter’s Ministry to Cornelius 10 : 1-48
Caesarea :  This city was named after Augustus Caesar. It was the Roman capital of the province of Judea.  Cornelius lived in this city because he was a military officer.  A Roman centurian was responsible and incharge for hundred soldiers.  Cornelius was God-fearing.  Although he was gentile, he believed on the God of Jews.  He was not circumcised (11 : 3) and thus not a proselyte.  In order to become a proselyte, a man must be circumcised, be immersed in Jewish baptisms, and offer a sacrifice in the temple according to Jewish tradition (Heb. 6 : 2).  But Cornelius was not circumcised, but just attended Synogogue for prayer.
v : 14-15 – There were some unclean animals for the Jews according to the Law (Lev. 11).  Peter observed such laws.  This vision was probably given to Peter so that he might change his concept regarding the gentiles and accept them into the church.  Peter also had a vision as Cornelius.
v : 34 – 43 – Peter’s message gave importance to the Lord Jesus Christ as he preached his earlier sermons (2 : 14-40 ; 3 : 11-26).  He began his preaching by stating that God is not partial (34).  He will receive anyone who believes.
v : 44 – 48 – As he was preaching, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongue very clearly so that the Jewish believers could understand what they spoke concerning God.  When Cornelius spoke, Peter did not speak in tongue. 
Note :  Since Peter witnessed directly what God had done to Gentiles, he baptized and added them into the church.  If he had not seen that sign of speaking in tongues, he would have hesitated to add them in church.
  1. Peter’s Explanation to the Jerusalem church 11 : 1-18
When Peter returned to Jerusalem, the other apostles questioned him about adding the uncircumcised Gentile (Cornelius) into the church.  Peter explained all events related to Cornelius and asked them “How  could I withstand God when He gave salvation to the Gentiles?” (17).  By this explanation, the apostles and elders in the Jerusalem church understood that God had granted salvation to Gentiles too.
  1. The Church in Antioch of Syria 11 : 19-26
The disciples who scattered after Stephen’s martyrdom, went and preached the Lord Jesus Christ to the Greek speaking Jews in Antioch.  Many accepted Christ.  Hence a church was formed in Antioch.  When the Jerusalem church knew these believers in Antioch, it sent Barnabas on fact finding mission to confirm whether it was true or not.  He came and encouraged the believers in Antioch.
v : 25 – After encouraging believes in Antioch, Barnabas went to Tarsus to call Paul to Antioch.  There, they stayed for one year.  In Antioch, the believers were first called with the title “Christian”.
Note :  Christ means ‘the Anointed one’.  Christian means ‘the anointed people’.
N.     Famine Relief to Jerusalem 11 : 27 – 30
There was a famine as predicted.  The believers in Jerusalem suffered greatly due to famine.  So the church in Antioch sent relief funds to the Jerusalem church.  The Antioch church sent the relief to Jerusalem through Barnabas and Paul.  This probably took place in 44-46 AD.
Note : This was the second visit of Paul to Jerusalem (Gal. 2 : 1-10) after his conversion which took place 7-9 years age.  (Paul was converted probably between 35-37 AD).
O.    Increase of persecution and Divine Intervention 12 : 1-25
This entire chapter deals with persecution on Christian, initiated by Herod.
v : 1 – King Herod – He was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod, the Great and the Son of Aristobulus.  He ruled over Judea and Samaria from 41-44 AD,  When Claudius became emperor in 41 AD in Rome.  Agrippa observed Jewish customs and won the favoour of the Jews.  He persecuted the church to please the Jews.  He killed apostle James.
v : 2 – James, the brother of John – the sons of Zebedee.  James was the apostle who was first martyred.  The only apostle’s death recorded in the New Testament was of James.  After  apostle James died, the church did not attempt to replace him.  This indicates apostolic office was not passed on to others, after the first century.
v : 3-19 –  The Jews were very happy with Herod for he killed apostle James.  So Herod, again to please the Jews, arrested Peter.  But God sent angels to deliver him from prison.
Note : Angel’s direct ministry was very much prominent in the early part of first century.  In the second part of first century, the angel’s ministry was very less.  Because, when Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea, angels did not help him to escape (23 : 23-26 : 32).
v : 20 –  Herod cut the food supply to Sidon and Tyre.  Finally they made peace with him.  So that he might allow food supply.
v : 21 – 25 –  Herod always looked for manpraise.  He was praised by people as “god”.  Hence God struck him.  God would not give His glory to anyone.
Note : The Jewish historian Josephus said that Herod died five days after the attack.  He had an infection of intestinal roundworms.
  1. First Ordination of International Missionaries 13 : 1-3
v : 1 – Herod the Tetrarch was Herod Antipas.  The Antioch church had five prophets and Teachers, including Barnabas and Saul (Saul is Hebrew name; but Paul is Greek name).  The prophets probably did the work of Pastors and Preachers.
v : 2 –  The Holy Spirit guided the church at Antioch of Syria to separate Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the special ministry for which He has called them (Gal. 1 : 15 ; 2 : 9).
v : 3 –  As the Holy Spirit said, the church prayed and sent them as missionaries.
          “Laid hands on them” is a sign of fellowship and recognition (6 : 1-5).
B.      Ministry of Paul and Barnabas 13 : 4 – 14 : 28
This is Paul’s first missionary trip.
  1. Ministry in Cyprus 13 : 4-13
Cyprus was the home town of Barnabas (4 : 36).  Paphos was its capital.
Sergius Paul was procouncel.  A Jewish false prophet named Bar – Jesus attempted to stop his conversion.  So God struck him with blindness.  After Sergius Paul’s conversion Paul directly approached gentiles instead of going through the Jews.
v : 13 – Perga was the capital of the Roman province of Pamphylia.  When they arrived here, John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem, in the middle of Ministry.  The reason for this returning is unknown.
  1. Ministry in Antioch of Pisidia 13 : 14-50
Pisidian Antioch was in Roman imperial province of Galatia.  Roman Provinces were two types; namely imperial and senatorial. 
v : 14-15 –  In the early day of Christianity, Apostles went to synagogues to worship and to preach about Christ based on Old Testament scriptures.  So the Jewish elders sometimes gave opportunity to apostles to preach.
v : 16-41 – This is the first Paul’s sermon recorded.  In his preaching, he summed up Jewish history and explained how Jesus was the promised one for the throne of David (23).  Then he continued on about Christ – his ministry, his death and resurrection.
v : 42-43 –  Although many Jews did not respond positively, the gentiles and proselytes (converted gentiles to Jewish faith) received the gospel.
v : 44-50 – In the next Sabbath, when Paul and Barnabas preached in the same syngogue, there were many gentiles.  Probably, gentiles entering into the sysogogue without accepting Jewism stirred the anger of the Jews.  So they opposed Christianity.  Hence Paul and Barnabas turned to the gentiles.
  1. Ministry in Iconium 13 : 51-14 : 5
          “Shook of the dust” is a symbolic act to describe the divine judgement which would come.         Iconium was 120 Km. away in Southeast of Pisidian Antioch.  As they preached the gospel, they performed many signs and wonders.  Then due to opposition, they left Iconium 13 : 51-52.  The disciples were filled with joy as well as filled with the Holy Spirit.
  1. Ministry in Lystra 14 : 6 – 20
Lystra was 30 Km. from Iconium.  Timothy was from Lystra.  Probably Timothy accepted Christ at this time.  Here, Paul healed a lame man.  Paul taught them God was the source of all blessing (15-17)
The Jews stoned and dragged him at city, supposing him to be dead, but he was not.  Zeus was the father of gods and Hermos was the messenger of gods according to Roman myths (12).
  1. Ministry in Return Trip (Derbe to Antioch of Syria) 14 : 21-28
In their return trip, they strengthened the disciples (22) and appointed elders in every church.  Finally they summed up all their ministry to the church in Antioch of Syria which sent them on mission Trip.  Here Paul’s first missionary trip was completed.
C.      Jerusalem council 15 : 1-29
This was the first council of the church, which ever happened in the history of church.
  1. Debate over Gentiles, keeping Mosaic Law 15 : 1-5
Some Christian Jews forced the gentiles to be circumcised and to follow Mosaic Law.  They said that gentiles could be saved only by observing the law.  But others opposed them.  Hence this became a dispute in early Christianity.  Paul and Barnabas brought this dispute before other apostles and elders in Jerusalem.
  1. Peter preached Salvation by Grace 15 : 6-12
In order to bring a solution to this disputes, the apostles and the elders from the church of Jerusalem assembled.  In this council, Peter said that God has no partiality in saving the Jews and the gentiles (9) and all would be saved through grace by faith in Christ (v : 11 ; Eph. 2 : 7-9).
  1. James made summary of council’s decision 15 : 13-21
James was the brother of Jesus. (Apostles James was already killed by Herod.  Act 12).  Brothers of Jesus did not believe Jesus before His death (Jn. 7 : 5).  However, they believed Jesus after His resurrection.  Among Jesus’ brothers, James became prominent in the church at Jerusalem.  He probably led the first council.   Hence he summed up the decisions of council.  He gave the conclusion (I Judge. 19).  The council suggested four rules to the gentiles to obstain (i) from things polluted by idols (ii) from sexual immorality (iii) from things strangled (iv) from blood (eating and drinking of blood).  These rules are related to pagan worship.  Hence the council suggested the gentiles to be away from pagan worship.
  1. Declaration of the council. 15 : 22-29
The apostles and the elders accepted what James suggested.  They wrote the decision of council to the Gentile churches for they were freed from observing the Law of Moses.
  1. Council’s decision presented in the church at Antioch. 15 : 30-35
When Paul, Bernabas and others presented the decision of the council to the gentiles believers, they rejoiced for freedom from the law.
Note :  By this decision, the council decided gentiles need not to follow any mosaic law in order  to be saved.  So we need not to observe the law including Sabbath day (Saturday worship).  We are saved by grace (Eph. 2 : 7-9), not by the law.
  1. Separated Missions of Paul and Barnabas. 15 : 36-41
John Mark turned back in the middle of first missionary journey (13 : 13).  But Barnabas wanted again to call John Mark in second missionary journey.  Paul did not agree to call John Mark with them.  Due to this reason, Paul and Barnabas went on separated Mission trips.  They had no disagreement in doctrine.  Silas was a Roman citizen and leader in Jerusalem church (15 : 22 ; 16 : 37).
Note : Even though they had separated mission trips their message was the same, that the salvation is only through faith in Christ.
F.                Timothy joined in Paul’s Ministry. 16 : 1-5
Timothy was a convert in Paul’s first missionary journey (14 : 8 ff ; 2 Tim. 1 : 5 ; 3 : 15).  Paul asked Timothy tobe circumcised because his mother was a Jew.  Paul never said any gentile to be circumcised.
  1. Macedonian call and Paul’s ministry 16 : 6-19 : 20
  1. Macedonian call 16 : 6-10
Asia here represents only the Roman province of Asia.  The Holy Spirit did not give permission to them. It was then a special ministry of Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit stopped them going to Asia but opened a new way to preach the gospel in Europe, through Macedonian call.  Macedonia refers Northern Greece, which included the cities of Phillipi and Thessalonica.
v : 10 – Here the first “we” section begins.  This indicates Luke, the author of Acts joined in Paul’s team for ministry (Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke –  a team)
  1. Ministry in Philippi. 16 : 11-40
Since the Holy spirit guided Paul, through Maccedonian call, they sailed to Neapolis, a Seaport in Macedonia.  Their ministry was very fruitful in Philippi. 
Philippi :  This city was established by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander, the great.  The original name of this city was krenides (springs).
                   v : 14 – Lydia was a gentile who accepted Christ in Philippi.
Thyatira :  This place was in Asia.  It was a famous city for making purple dyes.  Lydia from this city came to Philippi and accepted Christ with her household.  There was a church in Thyatira (Rev. 1 : 11 ; 2 : 18 & 24).
v : 17-24 – A demon possed girl shouted that Paul and his team members were servants of the Most High God.  Paul cast out that demon out of her.  For casting out demons, Paul was arrested and cast into prison.  Although the girl spoke a truth about God, she spoke mockingly about their ministry.
v : 25-34 –  God miraculously sent angels to release them.  This miracle made the jailer to accept Christ.
Note :  Some quote “his family were baptized” (33) to argue for infant baptism.  But there was no proof that there were infants in his household (cf. v : 32)
v : 35-40- According to Roman rule, a Roman citizen should not be punished without reason.  That was so, Paul challenged them “for beating them without reason” (37).  Paul challenged so that the authorities would not punish the believers without reason.
v : 40 – “We” section closes here.  It indicates Luke stayed in Philippi to develop the young church.  He again joined Paul, when Paul passed through Philippi in his third missionary journey (20 : 5-6).
  1. Ministry at Thessalonica 17 : 1-9
Thessalonica :   This city was 160 Km. away from Philippi. Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia.  This city was founded by Macedonian general Cassander in 315 BC.  He named this city after his wife name.
Paul started his ministry by teaching in a Synagogue about Jesus Christ from Old Testament scriptures.  Paul worked to earn for his needs (1 Thes. 2 : 9, 2 Thes. 3 : 8).  During his long stay for months, he received two special gifts to support his ministry from the Philippian church (Phil. 4 : 15-16).  The Jews opposed Paul’s ministry here also.
  1. Ministry at Berea 17 : 10-15
Berea was about 80 Km. west of Thessalonica.  The believers at Berea were more wise because they compared scriptures with scriptures for their faith in Christ (11).  The Unbelieving Jews came from Thessalonica and opposed their ministry in Berea also.
  1. Ministry at Athens 17 : 16-34
Athens was in the province of Achaia.  Corinth was its capital.  This city was in its full glory in fifty century B.C. Although its glory declined after this time, Athens still retained its significance culturally and intellectually.  It was the house of many great Greek Philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus and Zeno.
v : 18 – Epicureanism and stoicism were the popular philosophies in Paul’s day.  Philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) taught that many gods exist but they have no interest in human affair.  This philosophy is false.  Because, According to the Bible the true God always care for creature, as Paul preached in verses 24-28.
v : 19 – The Areopagus was an open forum where philosophers assembled for debate on philosophy.
Stoic Philosophy was founded by the Cypriote Zeno (340-265 BC).  He taught his teaching at “Painted Stoa’ (Stoa means Colonnade or portico).  Hence, Stoicism received its name from Stoa (Portico).  He taught that man must live harmoniously with nature because all is god. It is called Pantheistic view.  This is also false philosophy.  Because nature is not god.  It was created by God.  God is the creator of all (Isa. 40 : 18,21, 25-28).
v : 23 – “To the unknown God”.  Greeks believed many gods.  But they believed that there was God who was supreme over all.  They did not know the name of the supreme God.  Hence they called the name of that supreme God as “the unknown God”.  Paul presented in his preaching that “that unknown God” created everything and came into this world in the form of man in Jesus Christ (Ordained man to judge the world – 31).
v : 28 – Paul used these quotation from the Greek poets Epimenides (600 BC)and Aratus (315-240 BC).  These quotations indicate that Paul had wider knowledge in Greek literature as he had thorough knowledge of scripture.  He used and quoted Greek poems to attract the native audience so that he could preach about Jesus Christ.
v : 30-31 – After presenting evidences for his teaching from native poets, he asked them to repent so that they would escape from judgement.  Many did not believe his message, but a few accepted Jesus Christ (34).
  1. Ministry at Corinth 18 : 1-17
Corinth  : This was one of the oldest Greek cities, but the Romans destroyed it in 146 BC.  Julius Caesar rebuilt this city as a Roman colony in 46 BC.  Augustus made Corinth as the Capital of the province of Achaia.  Corinth was a trade Centre between Asia and Italy.  It was one of the most wicked cities of the Roman Empire.  Corinth had atleast 26 Pagan sacred places, devoted to the gods.  The chief goddess of Corinth was Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love.  Her temple was located on top mountain Acrocorinth (1500 ft.), and was the chief center of sacred prostitution.
v : 2 – Emperor Claudius banished the Jews from Rome, so they went out of Rome city.
Paul ministered in this city for 18 months, amidst of opposition.  (Probably between 50-52 AD).  The Jews accused Paul was preaching an illegal religion (13) Gallio was the procounsel of Achaia in 51 AD.  When the unbelieving Jews charged Paul, Gallio enquired.  Gallio did not know the distinction between Jewish Religion and Christianity.  So he considered Christianity, a branch of Judaism.  Thus he rejected the charges framed against Paul by the Jews and released him.  Gallio’s decision was important because his refusal to act in favour of the Jews was tantamount to the recognition of Christianity as a legal religion.
  1. Ministry at Ephesus 18 : 18-22
Ephesus city was the capital of Asia, and a leading commercial center of Asia Minor.  This city was most noted for its worship of Artemis (Latin – Diana).  The Temple of Diana was then a seven wonders of the world.  Diana was goddess of fertility.
After a brief ministry in Ephesus, Paul went to Jerusalem from where he returned to Antioch of Syria.  Here he completed his second missionary journey.
  1. Paul’s third missionary trip 18 : 23-28
v : 23 – Paul began his third missionary journey from Antioch of Syria and reached Ephesus through Galatia.
v : 24-28 – Alexandria city was founded by Alexander, the Great in 331 BC.  It was the capital of Egypt and the Second largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome.  Apollos was from this city.  Apollos was a Jew.  He had received the baptism of John, the Baptist.  He came from Alexandria to Ephesus and preached about the Lord,  although he did not know much about Jesus Christ personally.  Hence Aquila and Priscilla called him to their home and explained about the way of God (The way = Christ and Christianity) to him.  After having learnt about Jesus Christ perfectly, he preached more vehemently about Christ to the Jews.  He did not take baptism after knowing Christ perfectly, for he had been baptized as a Jew.  However, he had gone from Ephesus to Achaia (Corinth).  Probably before Paul’s arrival in Ephesus.  So he could not meet Paul in Ephesus.
  1. Two Years of Ministry of Paul at Ephesus 19 : 1-20
v : 1-7 – Although these twelve men were mentioned as having received the Baptism of John, they probably received baptism from Apollos.  They had no knowledge about the Holy Spirit.  This indicates that they had no real knowledge of Jesus Chrisit (4).  Hence Paul again explained them about Jesus Christ and baptized them as well.  When Paul laid hand on them as the symbol of fellowship, they began speaking in tongues and spoke prophecy.
v : 11-20 –  The Lord did many miracles through Paul.  When some Jewish exorcists saw these miracles, they also attempted to cast away a demon by using Jesus name.  Since these Jewish exorcists were unbelievers, the evil spirit overpowered them.  Hand kerchiefs really refers to sweat – rags which Paul tied around his head while he was working in tent making.
Note :  v : 19 – One silver is equal to one day’s wage.  So the total value of these books was very large amount.
  1. Paul’s further plans for ministry 19 : 21-22
Paul probably thought that the eastern part of Roman expire had been sufficiently evangelized.  So he purposed a new plan to preach the gospel in the western part of Roman empire, especially in Rome itself.  However he decided to go to Jerusalem before going to Rome.
  1. Opposition to Paul in Ephesus 19 : 23-41
Due to Paul’s ministry, many people turned from Artemis cult (Diana cult).  This affected the business of Demetrius who made the idols of Diana.  So he stirred the people and other businessmen against Paul. 
v : 35 – They unbelieving Ephesians thought, the huge rock in which the idol of Diana was made fell from sky. (Zeus = Heaven – Greek. Artemis).
v : 35-38 – The city clerk quited the angry mob and told them that Paul was not against any religion (37).  This statement of the clerk brought down the confusion of the mob and he dismissed assembly.  Paul was sent.  After much confusion, Paul was freed.
  1. Paul’s Return Trip to Macedonia and Achaia 20 : 1-5
The Jews plotted to kill Paul in his sea voyage.  So he changed his way and returned through Macedonia.  On the way, he encouraged the believers in every church.
  1. Ministry in Troas 20 : 6-12
v : 6 – “We” section begins second time.  It denotes Luke and Paul ministered in Philippi.  The days of unleavened bread means “the day of Jewish Passover”.
v : 7 – The first day of the week is Sunday.  Early Christians assembled and worshiped on Sunday instead of Sabbath.  They worshiped on Sunday because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection.  They worshiped in the evening because Sunday was a working day.  Sometimes, they worshiped continually till midnight.
N.      Farewell to Ephesian Elders in Miletus 20 : 13-38
v : 13-33 – After reaching Miletus, Paul called the elders of Ephesian church (Ephesus was 50 Km. away from Miletus).  He reminded them how he ministered in Ephesus.  He ministered and taught both publicly and house to house (20).  He preached the whole counsel of God (27).  Paul totally ministered for three years (31).  By giving the example of his ministry, Paul encouraged them to do ministry like manner (28).  The whole counsel of God refers to God’s plan revealed for man in the Bible.
v : 34-35 – Paul himself worked and earned to support the ministry.  In order to encourage them, he quoted the saying of Jesus “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.  This saying is not recorded in the gospels.  However this saying was true as John records in his gospel 21 : 25.  Jesus said many things which are not in gospels.
v : 36-38 – After prayer, they gave him emotional farewell.
  1. Paul’s return to Jerusalem 21 : 1-16
There were many predictions as to how Paul would suffer in Jerusalem (4, 10).  Some scholars think that Paul’s journey to Jerusalem this time was against God’s will.  However, Paul travelled according to God’s will (14).
  1. Paul arrested in Jerusalem 21 : 17-23 : 22
  1. Paul’s meeting with James and elders 21 : 17-26
As soon as Paul and his team reached Jerusalem, Christian in Jerusalem welcomed him this time.  He met James and Elders of the church, and narrated his ministry among the gentiles.
The Jews in Jerusalem were looking for a chance to accuse Paul, so the elders advised Paul to perform some Jewish ceremonies which might pacify the anger of the Jews.  Paul agreed to do so.
v : 23-24 – Vow here refers religious purification of thirty days.  Paul came to Jerusalem to attend the Jewish special day of Pentecost.
  1. Paul’s arrest in the Temple 21 : 27-36
Although Paul agreed for the strategy of the elders to pacify the Jews, it did not work.  The Jews who came from Asia found him in the temple and caught him.  They thought Paul had brought the gentiles into the temple court which was reserved for the Jews only.  He did not bring any gentiles into the temple courts.  But the Jews were beating him until the commander came and controlled the situation.
The commander thought Paul could be a criminal.  So he enquired the crowd what was the case.  They gave no proper answer.  Hence, the commander took Paul into the barracks so as to enquire.
  1. Paul’s defense before the Jews 21 : 37 – 22 : 22
21 : 37 – 40 – The commander (Lysias 24 : 7) thought Paul was a trouble maker.  Paul spoke with him in Greek fluently.  The commander was surprised over the knowledge of Paul in Greek.  He permitted Paul to speak to the crowd.  Paul spoke to the crowd in Hebrew.  This shows that Paul had knowledge of many languages. (1 Cor. 14 : 18).
22 : 1-22 – After having got the permission of the Roman commander, Paul spoke with the Jews by introducing his Jewishness.  He narrated the events which led to his conversion into Christianity.  The Jews were listening patiently but they were furious when Paul told that God had given him a special mission to the Gentiles.  Because the Jews did not like to add the gentiles into Judaism or Christianity before performing some Jewish religious rituals. 
v : 16 – This verse probably speaks cleansing from sinful conscience (1 Pet. 3 : 21).
Note :  The Jews could understand that Christian faith is free from the law of Moses.
  1. Paul’s claim of his Roman citizenship 22 : 23-29
Since the Jews were furious, the commander brought Paul inside the barracks and ordered the soldiers to torture Paul in order to find the truth.  When the soldiers started beating Paul, he asked them “how could they punish a Roman who had no criminal charges against him?”  According to the Roman law, a Roman citizen should not be punished without proper reason.  So, Paul claimed his Roman citizenship to be free from undue punishment.
Having known Paul’s Roman citizenship, the commander asked him as to how Paul got the Roman citizenship.  Because the Roman citizenship was given either to some rich people by offering a huge amount to the Roman Empire or to those who did great service to the empire.  The commander received his Roman citizenship by this first method (28).  But Paul got his Roman citizenship by his birth.  We do not know as to how Paul’s family got Roman citizenship.  It is likely that Paul’s forefathers or parents received Roman citizenship for their valuable services rendered to the Roman Empire or military general.  Paul’s ancestors could have done such services to the Roman government.  So Paul got citizenship by birth.  So, the commander was afraid for beating Paul.
  1. Paul’s defensive argument before the Sanhedrin 22 : 30 – 23 : 11
22  : 30 – The commander called the Jewish council (Sanhedrin) and brought Paul so that he could explain the matter to the Jewish council.
23 : 1-5 – When Paul started explaining the events, the high Priest Ananias told the Jews to strike Paul.  So Paul called him “white washed wall”.  Paul used this term because he did not know that Ananias was the high Priest then.
Note : Paul could not recognize the high priest, because after 20 years of ministry, Paul was before the Sanhedrin.  Within this twenty years, many high Priests had been changed.  So Paul could not recognize the high priest.  If Paul had known him befare, he would not have used the term white washed wall (Ex. 22 : 28).
23 : 6-11 – When Paul understood that there were both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, he told them he was a pharisee before his conversion.  Hence the Pharisees started protecting Paul.  However the commander took Paul into his custody.
  1. Jewish plot to kill Paul 23 : 12-22
The Jews had designed a plot to kill Paul, in the pretext of enquiring him again.  However, the Lord encouraged Paul not to fear about this plot.
  1. Paul’s imprisonment and defenses in Caesarea 23 : 23-26 : 32
  1. Paul’s imprisonment in caesarea 23 : 23-35
                   The commander understood the danger that Paul faced from   the Jewish leaders.  Since he could not risk having a true Roman citizen assassinated while in his custody, he took steps to transfer Paul into the jurisdiction of Felix, the governor of the province of Judea.  So the commander wrote a letter to Felix and transferred Paul’s case to Caesarea, the provincial capital as quickly as possible.  Paul was also sent there.  Felix imprisoned Paul in the palace which was built by Herod, the Great.
  1. Paul’s trial before Felix 24 : 1-27
1-27 :  Felix heard the argument of Paul and the Jews.  He understood that Paul was innocent, through Paul’s arguments (11-13).  But he kept Paul in prison for two years, expected bribe in order to release him (26, 27).  Since Paul did not bribe, Felix showed favour to the Jews by keeping Paul in prison.
v : 5 – “the Sect of the Nazarenes” refers to Christians. Christians were called Nazarenes by the Jews because Jesus was from Nazareth (Jn. 1 : 46).  Nazarenes was a derisive name given to the Christians.
v : 14 – This verse clearly indicates that the early Christians did not reject the Jewish scripture (OT), (Mt. 5 : 17,18).  However they interpreted them in a new light.  So they understood Jesus of Nazereth was the Messiah of OT prophecies (Act. 18 : 5).
Felix : His full name was Antonius Felix.  He was the governer of Judea from 52 – 59 AD.  He was a slave but freed by Antonia, the mother of the emperor Claudius.  His brother Pallas became the friend of Claudius.  Through the influence of Pallas, Felix was appointed a subordinate governor of Samaria in 48 AD.  Later, Claudius promoted Felix as the governor of Judea.  Felix had three wives.  The third wife Drusilla was a Jew.  He knew about Jewish faith from his wife as well as about Christian faith (22, 24).  Drusilla was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I, the son of Herod the Great.
  1. Paul’s trial before Festus 25 : 1-22
1-12 – In 59AD, Festus became the governor of Judea instead of Felix.  The Jews brought their case against Paul to him.  So Festus enquired Paul again.  Since the Jews could not give any evidence for their accusation, Festus understood Paul was innocent.  However Festus did not decide.  So Paul thought Festus might hand him over to the Jews to trial in Jerusalem.  If Festus decide so, Paul would be in danger of assassination on his way to Jerusalem.  Having understood the situation, Paul did not give a chance to Festus to decide.  So he, himself appealed “to Caesar” to escape from this juncture.
 The Roman law permitted its citizens to appeal to Caesar, when they did not get justice in the lower courts.  Paul used this law to protect himself from Festus, who was undecided.  Based on the law appealing  to Caesar, Festus granted Paul’s plea to Caesar. 
13-22 –  When Agrippa-II visited Caesera, Festus informed him about Paul.  So Agrippa wanted to hear Paul.
Agrippa-II :  The full name was Marcus Julius Agrippa-II.  (AD 27-100).  He was the son of Agrippa-I, the grand son of Aristobulus, and the great grandson of Herod, the Great.  He was brought up at Rome in the court of Claudius.  So he won the favour of Claudius.  Claudius appointed him as the king of Chalcis, a petty kingdom to the northeast of Judea in 50 AD.  Claudius also appointed him with the power to depose and to appoint the high priest in Jerusalem, although Agrippa-II did not rule Judea.
As a ruler of adjoining Kingdom, Herod Agrippa-II came to pay his respect to Festus, the newly appointed governor of Judea.  During this visit, Festus brought Paul before Agrippa-II.
  1. Paul’s trial before Herod Agrippa-II 25 : 23-26 : 32
25 : 23-27 – Since Festus was unable to decide on what he had to write to Caesar regarding Paul’s case, he asked the help of Agrippa to enquire Paul.  So Paul was brought before Agrippa-II.
26 : 1- 32 – Paul again explained all the matters related to his arrest and trial.  When Paul witnessed about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Festus called him mad.  But Agrippa neither told him mad nor accepted Christ.  However Festus and Agrippa understood, Paul was very innocent.  Since Paul had already appealed to Caesar, they could not release him also.
  1. The voyage to Rome 27 : 1 – 28 : 16
Since Paul appealed to Caesar, Festus arranged Paul to go to Rome.   This was Paul’s fourth journey but not as a missionary.
  1. Journey from Palestine to Crete 27 : 1-12
v : 1 – “we” section indicates Luke also went to Rome with Paul.
v : 2 – Adramyttium was a port city of Roman province of Asia (Modern Turkey).  It had many ships.  Paul boarded from Caesera in a ship belong to Adramyttium.
                   v : 3-8 – Their voyage had many hardships.
v : 9-12 –  Paul warned them based on the climate that it was not good to take voyage at that time, because the fast was already over.  The fasting refers to the Day of Attonment (Yom Kipper – Jewish special day celebrated between the latter part of September and the first part of October).  This indicates their voyage was after October 2nd week.  This period was very dangerous to voyage. Navigation in the Mediterranean was already dangerous after 15 September and was considered impossible after 10 November.  So Paul warned them not to venture the voyage but the centurian did not accept Paul’s advice.
  1. Euroclydon and Shipwreck 27 : 13-44
Euroclydon is a strong wind which blows from South east direction of Mediterranean Sea.  This wind stirs up broad waves of sea which is harmful to ships.  It has the force of hurricane.
Paul’s voyage to Rome was also affected by Euroclydon.  They suffered without food for 14 days (33).  Finally, they reached an island named Malta,  Probably at the end of October.
  1. Paul witnessed in Malta 28 : 1-10
After Paul reaching Malta, God did many miracles by the hand of Paul.    Paul was miraculously protected from the venom of snake.   They stayed in Malta for three months.  When they departed from Malta, the people of island freely supplied the provisions for their voyage.
v : 8 – Paul healed the father of Publius, although he did not believe.  This means apostles healed the sick, although the patients did not exercies their faith in Christ.
  1. Paul arrived in Rome 28 : 11-16
They stayed in Malta for three months (November to January).  Because the favourable wind begins in February.  They again started their voyage in February in 61 AD and reached Rome.  Paul got permission to stay in a rented house with Roman soldiers.  So Paul was under house arrest.
Twin Brothers :  It was the name of the ship.  This name was given to the ship according to Roman’s belief.  They believed the stars “twin brothers” were Castor and Pollux the sons of god Zeus.  These gods were the patrons of navigation, according to the belief of Romans.
  1. Paul’s life in Rome 28 : 17-31
When Paul stayed in Rome, he invited the Jewish leaders to explain his position and faith.
  1. Paul’s meeting with the Jewish leaders 28 : 17-29
Paul testified his faith to the Jewish leaders and the people.  He explained Jesus Christ from the scripture of Old Testament (23).  Some of the Jews believed but many did not.  So Paul quoted a prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 6 : 9-10).  He also stated that the rejection of the Jews brought benefit to the gentiles who greatly received salvation in Christ.  Paul believed the messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ but the majority of Jews did not believe so.
  1. Paul’s ministry in Rome 28 : 30-31
During this period of imprisonment, he wrote Ephesians, Colassians, Philemon and Philippians.  Paul was probably released in 63 AD, after two years of house arrest.  When he was released, he probably made his fourth missionary journey in Europe, western part of Roman empire.  At that period, he wrote, First Timothy and Titus.
Paul was rearrested about 67 AD, and he was beheaded by the order of emperor Nero.  When he was expecting his death, he wrote Second Timothy (2 Tim. 4 : 6-8).
Read the book of the Acts of Apostles, and explain, how the gospel of Jesus Christ spread all over the world based on Acts  1 : 8
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