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The No-Name God

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

15  Acts of the Apostles


Perceptions of Jesus after his resurrection

 

 

Peter guided by holy spirit

Stephen

Some prophecies about the coming of Jesus

Saul

Philip

Paul begins his ministry

The change in Peter

Paul and Barnabas

The testimony of Peter and James

Paul and Silas

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 15

 

 

Many consider Johnís gospel to be the last of the four gospels written. John wrote as though he were recording events while being with Jesus. Among other things, it clearly illustrates how the disciples misunderstood much of what Jesus taught them.

 

However, we would like to reconsider John 1:1-5 in the light of Johnís perception after he received holy spirit. Remember, John was writing after the holy spirit had revealed the truth of what Jesus spoke while here on this earth.

"In [the] beginning was the word, and the word was with the god, and the word was (a) god. He was in [the] beginning with the god. All things came into being through him, and not even one [thing] which has come into being, came into being without him. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light appears in the darkness, and the darkness apprehended it not."

 

The first thing to note is that these verses were not written about the man, Jesus, but about the Old Testament Jehovah. The word "was" appears six times in these verses, and each time it is an indicative imperfect. The indicative states it is a fact, or truth. The imperfect indicates that it is continuous action from the past.

 

Let us consider the significance of these "was" statements. First, the word was a continuing word. Second, the word was constantly with The God. Third, the word was continuously a god. Fourth, the word was constantly with The God from the beginning. Fifth, the word was within himself continuous spiritual life. Sixth, the spiritual life within the word was the light of men. In all of these statements, John was expressly speaking of the Old Testament word, or Jehovah.

 

After bringing in some statements made by John, the Baptist, John returns to where he left off in verse 1:5. John 1:14 says,

"And the word became flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we discerned his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father, full of grace and truth."

 

John then stated that the word of the first five verses became flesh and dwelled among them, and they discerned his glory, his grace, and his truth. This was the man Jesus, who lived with them, and who showed them the glory which had been his since the beginning of time with his father, the invisible god of heaven.

 

What a difference it made when John received a portion of holy spirit. The ministry of the holy spirit, the other comforter, had begun. Jesus told them the holy spirit would guide them into all the truth about what he had said while here with them. They did not understand then, but now, they had begun to understand what Jesus had taught.

 

The book of Acts provides at least a partial explanation of what the apostles taught. Luke wrote not only his gospel, but also the book of Acts. Acts 1:1-5 gives Lukeís opus.

" Indeed, O Theophilus, I made the first account concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which, having given command by holy spirit to the apostles whom he chose, he was taken up. To whom also he presented himself living after he had suffered, with many proofs, being seen by them during forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of the god. And being assembled with [him], he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the father, which [he said] ye heard of me. For John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with holy spirit after not many days."

 

Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples, and taught them concerning the kingdom of The God. Even after his resurrection, Jesus still delivered the same message. He said nothing about "asking Jesus into your heart to save you."  He talked only about the kingdom of The God.

 

He also instructed them to not leave Jerusalem. This was because they had not yet received holy spirit and were not yet equipped to witness to the world. Until this happened, they were still without guidance regarding the truth Jesus had taught. It was this portion of holy spirit they would receive that would guide them into the truth.

 

Jesus promised them, "after not many days," they would be baptized with holy spirit. In spite of the KJV translation, he did not say "the holy spirit," but simply "holy spirit."  There is no definite article in the Greek manuscript, and it was added centuries later in an attempt to make the scriptures appear to be consistent with the doctrine of the trinity.

 

Each person is put under holy spirit, or baptized with holy spirit, or given a portion of holy spirit; however, this by no means constitutes "the holy spirit."  [For a complete discussion of being baptized by holy spirit, please see Part III in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

Acts 1:6 points out that the apostles were still ignorant of the truth Jesus had taught them.

"They indeed therefore having come together asked him, saying, Lord, at this time restorest thou the kingdom to Israel?"

 

They still could not imagine Jesus leaving without removing them from the domination of the Roman army. They obviously did not yet have a full concept of what the kingdom of The God entails. Lord is capitalized because it is a beginning of a sentence, not because it is a proper noun. Jesus told them,

"It is not yours to know times or seasons which the father placed in his own authority." (John 1:7).

 

Jesus also told them more concerning their part in preaching about the kingdom.

"But ye will receive power, holy spirit having come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to [the] uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8).

 

No longer will this gospel of the kingdom be only for the Jewish people; it has been expanded to include all the world. The apostles will understand this, and they will have the power to do this when holy spirit comes upon them.

 

Finally, the time came for Jesus to ascend to the Father. People all over the earth would be blessed by his ascension because holy spirit would then descend upon all people. While he was here on earth, Jesus could only teach a few, but through holy spirit his influence would be felt worldwide.

 

Luke describes his ascension to the Father in Acts 1:9.

"And these things having said, they beholding [him], he was taken up, and a cloud withdrew him from their eyes."

 

This was no ephemeral being which ascended but a glorified man with a body of flesh and bone. Of this they were certain, because they had been with him for 40 days. They had eaten with him, and at his invitation, they had felt him in order to certify to their own minds that he was a man, albeit a glorified man.

 

After his ascension, they returned to Jerusalem as they had been ordered to do. Acts 1:14 says,

"These all were steadfastly continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication, with [the] women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

 

Although most people consider his motherís name to be Mary, the Greek manuscript says her name was Maria, or Miriam. They were waiting, as ordered, for the coming of holy spirit. If the invisible god of heaven accepted his work, then Jesus would be given the holy spirit to pour out upon all flesh. If the spirit did not come, that would mean that Jesus had not passed the final test of his father.

 

Jesus used different generic terms in referring to the invisible god. He referred to him as his father, or as his god, or as his lord, the one to whom he owed obedient service. The disciples had not understood that he was referring to a different god than Jehovah, the one they regarded as their god.

 

The disciples still did not recognize that Jesus was their god, Jehovah, in the flesh. Although the references Jesus made to the invisible god were misunderstood at the time, the scriptures say that the apostles, or sent ones, would understand once they received holy spirit. When they finally understand, how will they refer to Jesus, and to The God whom he revealed?

 

Acts 1:19-26 tells how the disciples went about filling the vacancy left by the death of Judas Iscariot. Acts 1:20 says,

"For it has been written in [the] book of Psalms, Let his homestead become desolate, and let there not be [one] dwelling in it; and, Let another take his overseership."

 

They did this so the prophecies in Psalms 69:26 and Psalms 109:8 might be fulfilled. Psalms 69:26 says,

"May their camp be a desolation; let not a dweller be in their tents."

 

And Psalms 109:8 says,

"May his days be few; may another seize his goods."

 

After nominating two men to take the place of Judas, they cast lots, and Matthias was chosen to join them (Acts 1:22-26).

 

Acts 2 records the events surrounding the arrival of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost. This signified that Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, that he had received the promised spirit, and that he had given it as promised.

 

Many Jews from various nations were gathered in Jerusalem, and they spoke a variety of languages. When they heard the apostles speaking in languages they each understood as their own, they wondered,

"And how we hear each in our own language in which we were born, Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and those who inhabit Mesopotamia, and Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, both Phyrgia and Pamphylis, Egypt and the parts of Libya which [is] about Cyrene, and the Romans sojourning [here], both Jews and proselytes, Cretaus and Arabians; we hear them speaking them the great things of the god in our own tongues?" (Acts 2:8-11).

 

Please remember that these Jewish believers, just like the apostles, knew nothing about the invisible god of heaven. Therefore, when they used the term "the god" they were referring to Jehovah, their god of the Old Testament. The disciples, however, were now equipped to be witnesses for Jesus, to tell others who he really was.

 

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Peter guided by holy spirit

 

Peter, the rambunctious apostle, explained to the crowd what was happening. Acts 2:14-18 says,

"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke forth to them, Men, Jews and all ye who inhabit Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words, for these are not drunken as ye take it, for it is [the] third hour of the day; but this is that which has been spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall be in the last days, says the god, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your elders shall dream dreams; and even upon my bondmen and upon my bondwomen in those days will I pour out of my spirit, and they shall prophesy."

 

Peter, quoting from Joel 2:28-32, said that what they were seeing was the event prophesied by Joel. Many churches today teach that the pouring out of holy spirit described by Joel will not happen until just before the return of Jesus. Peter, however, said that Joelís prophesy was fulfilled at that time.

 

Peter stated that holy spirit was epi, upon, everyone, not "in" everyone. [For more information on this point, please see Part III, Monograph 15, in our book What Scripture Says About Salvation.]  Peter also said it was The God who said this.

 

It is a matter of conjecture whether Peter was fully aware of the truth that it was actually the invisible god of heaven, or whether he was still speaking of Jehovah. He had received some of holy spirit, which was to guide him into the truth of what Jesus had said earlier. Perhaps he was using the term as Jesus did, and leaving the Old Testament understanding behind.

 

Peter continued using the words "the god" in a proper manner. Acts 2:22-25 says,

"Men, Israelites, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarean, a man set forth to you by the god by works of power and wonders and signs, which the god wrought by him in your midst, as also yourselves know: him, having by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of the god given up, taken by lawless hands, having crucified ye put to death. Whom the god raised up, having loosed the throes of death, inasmuch as it was not possible [for] him to be held by it; for David says as to him, I foresaw the lord before me continually, because at my right hand he is, that I may not be shaken."

 

Peter used the term "the god" four times, just as Jesus would have used them. Notice, too, that Peter said that Jesus was a man, not a god, not even a god-man.

 

How did holy spirit cause Peter to come to this conclusion? Matthew 27:50-51 tells of events at the exact time of Jesusí death.

"And Jesus, having again cried with a loud voice, yielded up [his] spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent into two from top to bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent."

 

When the tabernacle was built, each part was to be exact because it reflected heavenly significance. The rending of the veil revealed that besides the veil before the holy place, and the one before the holy of holies, there had been, for hundreds of years, another veil which was only now being revealed. That veil was Jehovah, himself, who was hidden in the glory cloud over the mercy seat. When the flesh of Jesus (Jehovah) was rent, the veil before the holy of holies was also rent at that exact time. This signified that anyone who wished could now enter the holy of holies of the temple.

 

But, there was also an even greater holy of holies which could now be entered. Hebrews 10:19-22 tells of the heavenly tabernacle of which the earthly one was only a pattern. These verses also explain why Jehovah was the hidden fourth veil of the earthly tabernacle, and what the rent veil of that earthly tabernacle signified.

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entrance into the holies by the blood of Jesus, which he dedicated for us a way newly made and living through the veil, that is, his flesh; and [having] a great priest over the house of the god, we should approach with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having been sprinkled [as to] the body with pure water."

 

Until the death of Jesus, the veil in the heavenly tabernacle had been a hidden veil. It had now been revealed to be Jehovah, who had become flesh as Jesus, whose flesh had now been torn. Anyone could now approach the very presence of The God in the heavenly tabernacle.

 

Peter clearly understood about the invisible god of heaven, the father of the lord Jesus, the Christ!  This revelation was part of the truth which holy spirit revealed to the apostles.  [For more information on this issue, please see our book, The Hidden Meaning in Hebrews.]

 

Peter continued to preach under the power of holy spirit. When he used the term "the god," he was usually speaking of the invisible god, the god whose existence he has only now come to realize. That he now knew this was shown by his comments in Acts 2:30-36.

"therefore being a prophet, and knowing that the god swore with an oath to him (David), to raise up of [the] fruit of his loins as concerning flesh the christ, to sit upon his throne; foreseeing, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the christ, that his soul was not left in hades, nor his flesh saw corruption. The god raised up this Jesus, whereof all ye are witnesses. Therefore having been exalted by the right hand of the god, and having received from the father the promise of the holy spirit, he poured out this which now ye behold and hear. For David ascended not into the heavens, but he says himself, Said the lord to my lord, Sit at my right hand, until I place thine enemies a footstool of thy feet. Assuredly therefore let all [the] house of Israel know, that the god made him both lord and christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified."

 

Peter used the term "the god" four times (although the KJV did not translate the definite article); "christ" three times; "the father" once; and, "lord" twice. Peter was now using these words correctly, not as he would have used them earlier, before receiving holy spirit.

 

He spoke of "the god" swearing to David that he would raise up "the christ" from the fruit of his loins. Earlier, Peter would have understood "the god" to mean Jehovah, the god of Israel. Now, however, he recognized the truth that Jehovah was the spokesman for "the god" of whom even David was unaware. Then, Peter said that "the god" raised up Jesus, and "the god" exalted Jesus at his right hand, where he received the promised holy spirit from "the father."  He also said that "the god" had made Jesus both lord and christ.

 

Peter differentiated between "the god" and "the father."  It was "the god" who exalted Jesus, but he received the promised holy spirit from "the father."  Why would Peter change the terminology here?  It was because "the father" is only one manner in which "the god" manifested himself to humanity.

 

Peter was describing characteristics of an unknowable god whom humanity can only partially understand. Father, son, and holy spirit are all modes in which "the god" may manifest some of his qualities; but even all of these together do not constitute even a small portion of "the god." It is impossible for us to know all about "the god," even though some claim to know.

 

Peter said that "the god made him (Jesus) both lord and christ."  In the Old Testament scriptures, when Jehovah was spoken of as the one to whom people owed obedience, he was spoken of as adonai, or lord. That was part of Jehovahís office.

 

Now, Jehovah, or Jesus, in a manís glorified body, has been returned to the same position he had earlier. Jesus is now lord, kyrios, the one to whom direct obedience is owed. Not only is he is the lord of all [humanity], but he is the christ, or king, over all the earth. Everything is subject to him. He is the one who carries out the instructions and the will of The God, who manifests himself to us as the Father.

 

Jesus had said while on earth that he neither said nor did anything except what his father told him. Not only was that true while he was on earth as a human being, but it was also true when he was Jehovah, the god of Israel.

 

Acts 3:6-7 describes how Peter presented signs of the kingdom by healing the lame man.

"But Peter said, Silver and gold there is not to me, but what I have, this I give to thee: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean, rise up and walk. And having taken him by the right hand he raised [him] up, and his feet and ankle bones were immediately strengthened."

 

The people around him were amazed and began to wonder about all of this. Acts 3:12-13 records Peterís response to them.

"And seeing [it], Peter answered to the people, Men, Israelites, why wonder ye at this? Or why look intently on us as if by [our] own power or piety [we] had made him to walk? The god of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the god of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, having adjudged he to release [him]."

 

Recall from our earlier discussions that in the Old Testament Jehovah was called the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now, Peter, who knows the distinction, uses the term "the god" correctly, recognizing that Jesus is not The God, but his servant. Peter finally realized that Jesus is the mediator between The God and men, but he is not The God. How much greater it would be if more people knew what Peter knew!

 

Acts 3:18-21 says,

"But what the god before announced by [the] mouth of all his prophets, [that] the christ should suffer, he fulfilled thus. Therefore repent and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the lord, and [that] he may send him who was before proclaimed to you, Jesus Christ, whom heaven must indeed receive till times of restoration of all things, of which the god spoke by [the] mouth of all his holy prophets from of old."

 

Peter was speaking in the same vein that Jesus did while he was with them on earth. He now knew that The God, not Jehovah, was the first cause of everything that the prophets spoke. In the Old Testament, Jehovah was referred to as the first cause of what the prophets said. Now, however, Peter understood that Jehovah was only the spokesman for the invisible god of heaven. He also understood now that the Christ was the same Jehovah become flesh, and now known by the name of Jesus. He realized for the first time what Jesus meant when he said he must return to his father. Peter now preached that Jesus would be with the Father until "the times of restoration of all things."

 

Another example of how much Peter had learned is shown by his use of the term "the lord."  Formerly, he would have used this term to describe Jesus as his teacher, and guide. But, now, he realized that Jesus, as Jehovah in the Old Testament, was the spokesman for the invisible god unto whom we all owe obedience. When the words, tou kyriou, the lord, is used to refer to the invisible god, it sets forth that, in the final sense, it is he to whom men owe obedience through Jesus, the Christ.

 

This usage occurs quite often, sometimes used of the heavenly father, and sometimes of Jesus, the Christ. When the apostles finally began to realize all the things which Jesus spoke about, it must have provided a great impetus for them to go testify. Now, through holy spirit, they knew that it was the god of Israel, Jehovah, become Jesus, who had spent three years teaching them. Before, they often said they did not understand; now, they no longer said that. Holy spirit has come, and what a great awakening this must have been!

 

Acts 4 begins by describing how the priests and the Sadducees put Peter and John in jail. The rulers, elders, scribes, and priests questioned them about the healing of the lame man. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus when he told them they would be called before rulers to give testimony of him (Matthew 10:18).

 

Acts 4:8-12 relates what Peter said to those who jailed him.

"Then Peter, filled with holy spirit, said to them, Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we this day are examined as to a good work [to the] infirm man, by what has he been cured? Be it known to all you and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean, whom ye crucified, whom the god raised from among [the] dead, by him this [man] stands before you sound. This is the stone which has been set at nought by you the builders, which is become head of [the] corner. And there is salvation in no one other, for there is neither another name under the heaven, which has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

 

The word "name" is nearly synonymous with power. The last verse above is often taken out of context and used to "prove" that one must hear, and believe, in Jesus, in order to be saved and go to heaven. However, the salvation Peter spoke about was that of healing. Keeping the subject in context illustrates the foolishness of preaching which is out of context. The focus here is about the lame man being made whole, not going to heaven!

 

Peter did not hesitate when he told these rulers that Jesus, the stone which they counted as nought, had become the head of the corner, which was a reference to Psalms 118:22:

"The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner."

 

Psalms 118:23 says that,

"This has become from Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); it is marvelous in our eyes."

 

Emboldened by holy spirit and his new knowledge, Peter spoke strongly to these rulers who could have him killed just as they did Jesus.

 

The rulers, however, did not have them killed. Acts 4:13 says,

"But seeing the boldness of Peter and of John, and having perceived that they are unlettered and uninstructed men, they wondered, and they recognized them that they were with Jesus."

 

Then, when the rulers commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John responded,

"Whether it be right before the god to listen to you rather than the god, judge ye. For we cannot but speak what we saw and heard." (Acts 4:19-20).

 

Now that Peter and John realized that there is an invisible god of heaven, they went full speed ahead in their testimony and they would not back off for anyone. Eventually, this would get them killed, but they no longer had any fear of death.

 

After Peter and John were released, the disciples gathered to praise The God. Acts 4:24-26 says,

"And they having heard, with one accord lifted up [their] voice to the god, and said, O master, thou [art] the god who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that [are] in them, who by [the] mouth of David thy servant didst say, Why did nations rage haughtily, and peoples did meditate vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the lord and against his christ."

 

This is a reference to Psalms 2:1-2, which says,

"Why do nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? Kings of earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel together against Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) and his anointed."

 

Peterís meaning varied from the original Old Testament setting. He now used the words "the god" to indicate the invisible god of heaven, the one Jesus had taught about. He also used the word "lord" in reference to "the god."

 

The word lord comes from despota, the source of the English word "despot."  The disciples used it to mean that The God required absolute obedience from them. Later (verse 4:29) they also used kurie, lord, in regard to The God.

 

The apostles exhibited great joy in discovering the god Jesus spoke of to them. They also were realizing that this was the god for whom Jehovah, the god of Israel, had spoken. Holy spirit was beginning to reveal many things to them, but this was surely one of the greatest truths. They now preached this invisible god, and the resurrection of their lord, Jesus.

 

Acts 4:33 says,

"And with great power, the apostles gave testimony of the resurrection of the lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all."

 

Note here they used the term the lord, tou kyriou, referring to Jesus, not to the invisible god of heaven. This indicates that although our first obedience is to the invisible god, that obedience is given through his intermediary, Jesus, the Christ. Therefore, either Jesus or The God may be referred to as "the lord."  This usage was more common in the early ministry of the apostles than it was later on.

 

Many of the Jewish leaders wanted to kill the apostles, but Gamaliel, a respected member of the ruling Sanhedrin, took exception to this. Acts 5:38-39 says,

"And now I say to you, Withdraw from these men, and leave them alone, for if this counsel or this work be from men, it will be overthrown; but if it be from [a] god, ye are not able to overthrow it, lest also ye be found fighters against [a] god."

 

There is an unanswered question at this point. Did these people realize that the apostles were not speaking about their god, Jehovah, but about the invisible god of heaven? That was the mistake the apostles made earlier, and these people were probably making the same mistake. However, let us not be too harsh in our judgment because most "religious" people today make a similar error by forcing the illogical concept of a "trinity" upon the scriptures.

 

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Stephen

 

Acts 6:8 describes Stephen thus:

"full of faith and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people."

 

Unfortunately, this brought him disfavor with some of the rulers, who used false witnesses to charge him with blasphemy. When asked if these things were true, Stephen recited a litany of his faith (Acts 7:2-53), beginning with Abraham. Stephen used the words "the god" as Jesus would have used them, referring to the invisible god of heaven.

 

Throughout his speech, Stephen used the term "the god" where the Old Testament scriptures he referenced had used Jehovah. The Jews, however, imagined that he spoke of Jehovah, since all the scriptures which Stephen quoted referred to Jehovah, the god of Israel.

 

Although the scriptures reported the words of Jehovah, what these Jewish people did not realize was that he was only the spokesman for The God. If they had accepted the message of the apostles they would have known this, but the apostles encountered the same misunderstanding that had plagued Jesus. By interpreting Stephenís words in terms of their own religious background, those words sounded like blasphemy. To them, there was no other god than Jehovah. But, to the apostles, including Stephen, this was no longer true.

 

Acts 7:37 says,

"This is the Moses, who said to the sons of Israel, [the] lord your god will raise up like me a prophet to you from among your brethren; him ye shall hear."

 

This plainly told the Jews that they should have listened to Jesus, the prophet whom The God had raised up for them.

 

Acts 7:44-53, the conclusion of Stephenís speech, says,

"The tabernacle of the testimony was among our fathers in the wilderness, as he who commanded spoke to Moses, to make it according to the model which he had seen; which also our fathers brought in having received by succession with Joshua in the taking possession of the nations, whom the god drove out from [the] face of our fathers until the days of David; who found favor before the god, and asked to find a tabernacle for the god of Jacob; but Solomon built him a house. But the most high dwells not in hand-made temples; as the prophet says, The heaven [is] to me a throne and the earth a footstool of my feet: what house will ye build me, says [the] lord, or what [the] place of my rest? [Has] not my hand made all these things? O stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye always resist the spirit the holy; as your fathers, ye also. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced before concerning the coming of the just one, of whom now ye have become betrayers and murderers! who received the law by [the] disposition of angels, and kept [it] not."

 

In the vernacular of today, Stephen "told it like it was."

 

When Stephen said that "the most high dwells not in hand-made temples of men," he was using an Old Testament term for Jehovah, but he used it in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, whom Jehovah had become. To Stephen, the phrase "the most high" now signified the invisible god, father of Jesus, the Christ. To the Jews, however, these words still meant Jehovah, who they knew as "the most high."

 

Stephen quoted Old Testament verses to show that there had been a change. Isaiah 66:1 says,

"Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth my footstool. What [is this] house you which you would build for me, and what the place of my rest?"

 

By this, the Jews were informed that "the just one" they had killed was no longer present in the temple, but had ascended to the right hand of the invisible god in heaven. The God had made him as high as their god, Jehovah, who had dwelt in the temple.

 

In truth, Jesus was their Jehovah, who now was identified as being so great that heaven was his throne and earth his footstool. This was a manner of speaking which indicated the greatness of the one whom they had crucified, thereby becoming "betrayers and murderers."  This was more than the Jews could stand. They cast him out of the city and stoned him to death.

 

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Some prophecies about the coming of Jesus

 

Acts 7:52 says that the prophets showed that Jesus was coming long before he actually arrived. We have intentionally omitted some of these prophecies until this point in the study. The following is a partial list of the prophesies about his first coming.

 

Genesis 3:15:

"And I will put enmity between you and (between) the woman, and between your seed and (between) her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

 

This is the first prophecy in the Bible which says that satan shall bruise the heel of Jesus, and that Jesus shall bruise his head, or bring him down.

 

Genesis 9:26:

"He also said, Blessed be Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); my god (Ďelohiym:H430) be Shem (the god of Shem); and let Canaan be his slave."

 

Jehovah, who became flesh, said Jesus would be a Semite, or what was later known as the seed of Abraham (see the next scripture).

 

Genesis 22:18:

"And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed my voice."

 

This was the promise the invisible god of heaven made to Abraham through his word, Jehovah. It promised the coming of messiah, or christ, through whose death all the world was blessed.

 

Genesis 49:10:

"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the rulerís staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the people."

 

This predicted that Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah, something apparently overlooked by the Jews of Jesusí time. Because he would also be a high priest, they expected him to be a Levite. This prophesy also refers to his second coming to rule.

 

Deuteronomy 18:15 records the words of Moses:

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (Ďelohiym:H430) will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you; him you shall heed."

 

II Samuel 7:12:

"When your days are fulfilled, and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your son after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom."

 

This was a promise made to David, that his descendant would be the ruler of a kingdom which The God would establish, and which would never end (II Samuel 7:13).

 

Psalms 2:1-2:

"Why do nations conspire, and the people plot in vain? Kings of the earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel together against Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) and his anointed."

 

All nations, including his own, would plot against Jesus when he came. When reading these scriptures, remember that Jehovah was only the spokesperson for the invisible god of whom Jesus, or Jehovah become flesh, was the anointed one.

 

Psalms 8:6-7:

"Yet you made him inferior only to yourself; you crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over all you have made; you placed all things under his feet."

 

This predicted that Jesus would be crowned, or made king, and all the things of creation would be put under his control.

 

Psalms 16:10:

"For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let the godly one to see the pit."

 

The God will not allow Jesus to see corruption.

 

Psalms 22:2:

"My god (Ďel:H410), my god (Ďel:H410), why hast thou forsaken me?"

 

Later, these same words were spoken by Jesus while he hung on the cross.

 

Psalms 22 is known as the Messianic Psalm.  Psalms 22:7-8:

"But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads.

 

All of these things were fulfilled while Jesus hung on the cross.

 

Psalms 22:13-18:

"Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me. They open wide their mouths at me, like a lion, ravening and roaring. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws, and thou dost lay me in the dust of the death. Yea, dogs are round about me, a company of evildoers encircle me, my hands and my feet, like the lion. I can count all my bones; they stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them, and they cast lots for my raiment."

 

In this psalm, David accurately described the agony that Jesus would suffer on the cross.

 

Psalms 22:23:

"I will tell of thy name to my brethren; I will praise thee in the midst of the congregation."

 

The word "name" refers more to a quality, or attribute, than it does to the English meaning of the word. In the Old Testament, its first meaning was that of power, and that would be the sense in which it was used here.

 

Psalms 22:28:

"All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); and all the families of the nations shall worship before him (thee)."

 

David knew nothing of the invisible god; he knew only Jehovah. These families of all the nations will worship The God in thanksgiving for the faithfulness of his son, Jesus, or the Jehovah of the Old Testament who became flesh. This prophecy will be fulfilled after the second coming of Jesus. Please note that we have chosen only a few of the prophecies about the second coming of Jesus.

 

Psalms 89:4-5:

"I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations."

 

This prophecy was fulfilled when the invisible god raised up Jesus, who will be king of kings forevermore.

 

Isaiah 7:14:

"Therefore the lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, a young woman is pregnant and bearing a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

 

Remember, this name means God with us, or God is on our side. When the revised version of the Bible came out, there was a great controversy because this verse was translated correctly from the Hebrew text as "a young woman," rather than a virgin (as noted in the KJV). Those times were different. When a young girl married, she was a virgin; therefore, it was unnecessary to make the distinction we do. Today, a young woman may or may not be a virgin, and therein lies the cause for this controversy.

 

Isaiah 9:1:

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in a land of great darkness, light has shined on them."

 

This is the verse which Jesus quoted as he began his ministry (see Matthew 4:16).

 

Isaiah 11:1-2:

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; and the spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."

 

When Jehovah, the word of the Old Testament, became Jesus, the fleshly man, he emptied himself of all the attributes he had as Jehovah. He, like us, had to submit to holy spirit if he were to be obedient to his father, the invisible god of heaven. This is the reason that the spirit was "upon him," and no longer under his control as it was when he was Jehovah. Later, when he ascended to the Father, control of the holy spirit was again restored to him.

 

Isaiah 42:1:

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth judgment to the nations."

 

Although Jehovah spoke these words, he spoke only under the direction of The God, the then unknown god, the invisible god of heaven, the father of Jesus, the Christ.

 

A reminder: Jesus said that no man has ever seen his heavenly fatherís form, or heard his voice (John 5:37). The invisible god of heaven speaks only through his chosen one for that office, his word. In the Old Testament that was Jehovah, and in the New Testament it was Jesus, the Old Testament word become flesh. The office remains in the hands of the same person, but that person changes form: from a spiritual being in the Old Testament to a natural man in the New Testament.

 

The God of heaven speaks only through another. No man has ever heard his voice, and no man ever will. The word is also the one who carries out the will of the invisible god, and brings his desires into being, making them visible to humanity.

 

Isaiah 49:6:

"He says, It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

 

The first part of this is still to be accomplished when Jesus returns. The second part was accomplished by his death, resurrection, and ascension to the heavenly father. Everyone received the gift of salvation because of him.  [For more on this point, see our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

Isaiah 53:9:

"And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth."

 

Joseph of Arimathea was the rich man who gave his grave for a burial tomb for Jesus.

 

Jeremiah 23:5:

"Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), when I will raise for David a righteous branch, and he shall reign as king, and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land."

 

This is a prophesy about the coming of Jesus. Please keep in mind when reading scriptures such as this one that Jehovah, although he was given credit for saying these words, only spoke for the invisible god who was still unknown to the people.

 

This same point applies to Jeremiah 30:21.

"And their prince shall be one of themselves, and their ruler shall come forth from their midst; and I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who of himself would dare to approach me, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."

 

This is a clear prophecy that messiah would be a man raised up from among themselves. He would be their ruler, and he would approach the one who originated this speech: the invisible god.

 

Hosea 6:1-2 prophesies that Jesus would be raised on the third day.

"Come, and let us return unto Yahweh (yehovah:H3068); for he himself has torn that he may heal us; he has smitten that he may bind us. After two days he will restore us to life; after two days, on the third day he will raise us, that we may live in his sight."

 

Although Hosea said that Jehovah was the one who was torn, we now know that Jesus, the son of the invisible god, was torn by The God, who spoke through Jehovah. In the New Testament, when Jesus said he owed obedience to his heavenly father it was because Jesus was the Jehovah of the Old Testament who had been made flesh.

 

Micah 5:1 says that Jesus would come out of Bethlehem.

"And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, (are) little to be among the thousands (clans) of Judah, out of you there will go forth for me to be a ruler in Israel, and his origin from days of antiquity."

 

The words "from days of antiquity" refer to the origin of Jesus from the beginning, when the words, "let there be light" were first spoken by the invisible god. Truly, Jesus was from antiquity. Or, as he said,

"Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).

 

Zechariah 12:10:

"And I will pour out on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of compassion and supplication; so that when they look on him (me) whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born."

 

The time is coming when the Jews will realize that Jesus really was their god, Jehovah, whom they crucified. When they finally realize this, the mourning will indeed be great!

 

These are only a few of the many prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus, the Christ. Many more may be found with any good concordance, or a cross reference Bible. When Jesus spoke to the two men on the road to Emmaus, he undoubtedly cited all these references.

"And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them all the things concerning himself in the scriptures." (Luke 24:27).

 

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Saul

 

Now, as we return to the stoning of Stephen, we see another primary player come onto the scene. Acts 7:58 says,

"... And the witnesses laid aside their garments at the feet of a young man called Saul."

 

Acts 8:1 notes that,

"Saul was consenting to the killing of him."

 

Acts 8:3 says,

"But Saul was ravaging the assembly, entering house by house, and dragging men and women delivered [them] up to prison."

 

This was the Saul who would later be known as Paul, the apostle. At this time, however, Saul was rabidly opposed to this new sect. He perceived that they were against everything he believed, and he was doing his utmost to destroy them. At this point in his life, Saul was convinced that Jesus was not Jehovah, the god of Israel. Later scriptures will describe what it took to change his mind.

 

Saul was a perfect example of religious righteousness, instead of godly righteousness. Little has changed. For example, during the Spanish inquisition, the catholic church tortured and killed thousands of people because they would not admit that Jesus was The God.

 

In the present day, various religious groups, including so-called "christians," are still persecuting and killing people because they disagree on some religious principle. The depressing part is realizing that this will never stop until Jesus, the Christ, returns to rule and reign over the earth. Religious men, without proper knowledge of the word of The God, are always dangerous men.

 

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Philip

 

Before returning to the history of Paul, the scriptures speak about Phillip and his mission to Samaria, where he met a magician named Simon. Phillip was empowered to do signs signifying that he was an apostle of the kingdom, and he convinced many people.

 

After gaining attention by healing and casting out demons, Phillip also preached

"... the glad tidings, the things concerning the kingdom of the god and the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 8:12).

 

He told people about the coming kingdom of God, and the name, or power, given to Jesus, the Christ. In addition to power, the word "name" also means everything that comes to mind about what Jesus accomplished in his life-time as a human being, including his death (which reconciled the world to his heavenly father), his resurrection, and his ascension to the right hand of The God. All this was proof that Jesus had been the Jehovah of the Old Testament who had become flesh to dwell on earth.

 

Because of Phillipís ministry, when word reached Jerusalem that the Samaritans had believed the word of The God, they sent Peter and John t investigate. Phillip had preached the kingdom of God, but he did not tell them about the coming of holy spirit, which is what Peter and John did. They prayed for the people, and they "received" holy spirit.

 

This does not mean that holy spirit was given at that moment, but that the people were active in receiving, or accepting, holy spirit as a guide for their lives. They submitted themselves in obedience to The God, and agreed to be led by his spirit which had been poured out on all flesh. [See our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation, for a detailed discussion of holy spirit.]

 

Acts 8:35 relates what Phillip told the eunuch who had been reading the scriptures but did not understand them.

"And Philip having opened his mouth, and having begun from this scripture, announced to him the glad tidings, the Jesus."

 

This would include everything that Jesus had accomplished during his earthly life, as well as his ascension to the heavenly father after his resurrection.

 

Acts 8:36-37 continues,

"And as they were going along the way, they came upon a certain water, and the eunuch says, Behold, water; what hinders me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest from the whole heart, it is lawful. And answering he said, I believe Jesus Christ to be the son of the god."

 

Please note that he did not say that he believed Jesus was his "personal savior," but that he believed that Jesus was the christ. Somehow, this crucial message has been lost in todayís plethora of denominations.

 

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Paul begins his ministry

 

The scriptures return to Saulís history in Acts 9:1-8, describing a crucial event in his life.

"But Saul, still breathing out threatenings and slaughter towards the disciples of the lord, having come to the high priest, asked from him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues, so that if he found any of the way, being both men and women, having bound he might bring [them] to Jerusalem. But in proceeding it came to pass he drew near to Damascus, and suddenly a light from the heaven shone round about him, and having fallen on the earth he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? And he said, Who art thou, lord. And the lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. [It is] hard for thee to kick against [the] goads. And trembling and astonished he said, Lord, what thou desirest me to do? And the lord [said] to him, Rise up and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what it behoves thee to do. But the men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing indeed the voice but seeing no one. And Saul rose up from the earth, and his eyes having been opened, he saw no one. But leading him by the hand they brought [him] to Damascus."

 

The word lord, kyrios, referring to Jesus, was capitalized in the KJV. However, the grammar indicates it is the appellative of an office, not a personal name. When Paul used the word kyrios, he was acknowledging that he owed both allegiance and obedience to Jesus, who had appeared to him. This conviction never left Paul throughout the rest of his life, and he remained completely committed to Jesus.

 

Unfortunately, many people today never do this because they often do not understand that Jesus expects something more than a nominal change in their lives. The current trend of "feel good" preaching is not going to bring about this kind of total commitment, and it cheats the people who listen to it, thinking they are being rightly guided.

 

Acts 9:20 says that when Paul regained his sight, he began to preach.

"And immediately he was proclaiming christ in the synagogues, that he (Jesus) is the son of the god."

 

Paul now understood that there was a god beyond Jehovah, the god of Israel, and that Jesus, the Christ, was the son of that god. While the other disciples focused primarily on the resurrection, the ascension, and the coming of holy spirit upon all mankind, Paul took a different tack. He began his ministry by stating three facts. First, he said there is The God of heaven. Second, he proclaimed that Jesus was the christ, not just any christ. Third, he substantiated this claim by saying what Peter had said earlier, that Jesus is the son of The God.

 

Paul returned to Jerusalem, but only Barnabas was unafraid of him.

"But Barnabas having taken him, brought [him] to the apostles, and related to them how he saw the Lord in the way, and that he spoke to him, and how he spoke boldly in Damascus in the name of Jesus." (Acts 9:27).

 

Notice that it says Paul not only saw the lord, but that he had spoken to him. The interesting point here is that Jesus revealed himself to Paul just as he had done with others on the mount of transfiguration. Why does it say that Jesus spoke with Paul? Later scriptures point out that Jesus revealed many things to Paul which he then related to others.

 

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The change in Peter

 

Acts 10 tells of the centurion, Cornelius, who saw an angel in a vision, who said,

"Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before the god." (Acts 10:4).

 

Notice that now the words, "the god," mean something different than they did in the Old Testament.  Now that Jehovah has become Jesus, the Christ, the holy spirit is revealing, through the apostles, that there is a god above Jehovah who is the formerly invisible god, to whom the way was opened by the work of Jesus, his son.

 

The angel also instructed Cornelius to ask Peter to come to him. To prepare him for a visit by Roman soldiers, a trance fell upon Peter, and he received a vision about what the sacrifice of Jesus had meant to The God. Acts 10:11-17 says,

"And he beholds the heaven opened, and descending upon him a certain vessel, as a great sheet, bound by four corners, and let down upon the earth; in which were all the quadrupeds of the earth and the wild beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the heaven. And a voice came to him, Having risen up, Peter, kill and eat. But Peter said, In no wise, lord, for never did I eat anything common or unclean. And a voice [came] again the second time to him, What the god cleansed, thou make not common. And this took place thrice, and again the vessel was taken up into the heaven. And as Peter was perplexed in himself what might be the vision which he saw, also behold, the men who were sent from Cornelius, having inquired for the house of Simon, stood at the porch."

 

First, Peter was informed that all the laws concerning what food was clean and unclean had been abrogated by the death of Jesus. The dietary laws of the Levitical dispensation were no longer valid.

 

Second, when Corneliusís men (who were gentiles) appeared, Peter perceived that he should take them into his home overnight, which he did. He would never have done this without seeing the vision. Peter explained all this, as well as why he would even consider entering the home of a Roman soldier.

"And he said to them, Ye know how unlawful it is for a man, a Jew, to unite himself or come near to one of another race. And to me the god shewed to call no man common or unclean. Wherefore also I came without gainsaying, having been sent for. I inquire therefore, for what reason did ye send for me?" (Acts 10:28-29).

 

Most people today have not yet learned the important lesson Peter learned because many denominations teach the exact opposite. Understanding hinges on the meaning of the words "common" and "unclean." Thayer (p. 351) defines common, koinon, as

"ordinary, belonging to the generality...hence unhallowed."

 

The Jews did not believe that anyone except Jews and proselytes were hallowed, or set apart, by their god for his service. This attitude had developed among the very Jews whom Jehovah had said were supposed to reveal his love and care for all men. They would not even go into the homes of Gentiles, or have close conversation with them!

 

Thayer (p. 21) defines unclean, akathartos, as

"a) in a ceremonial sense, that which must be abstained from according to the levitical law, lest impurity be contracted. b) in a moral sense, unclean in thought and life."

 

That was exactly the message Peter received! The Levitical laws were no longer valid, and no man was to be considered as common, or Levitically unclean. The death of Jesus, the Messiah, had changed all that. All men were now set apart to The God, and thus they were clean and allowed to enter into the presence of The God. Peter could no longer abide by the old restrictions upon associating with Gentiles.

 

After Peter arrived, Cornelius said,

"At once therefore I sent to thee; and thou didst well having come. Now therefore we all are present before the god to hear all things that have been ordered thee by the god." (Acts 10:33).

 

By using the phrase "the god" Cornelius revealed that he had also been shown that there is an invisible god in heaven. Holy spirit was now revealing to the Gentiles, as well as the apostles, that there is a god who is the father of which Jesus spoke. Peter was sent to reveal more of this invisible god, and his son, Jesus, to Cornelius and his household.

 

The first thing Peter said was,

"And opening [his] mouth Peter said, Of a truth I perceive that the god is not a respecter of persons, but in every nation, he that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. The word which he sent to the sons of Israel, announcing the glad tidings, peace by Jesus Christ, (he is lord of all), ye know; the which declaration came through the whole of Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. Jesus, who [was] from Nazareth, how the god anointed him with holy spirit and with power, who went through doing good and healing all that were being oppressed by the devil, because the god was dealing with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they put to death having hanged [him] on a tree. This one the god raised up on the third day, and gave him manifest to become, not to all the people, but to witnessess who had been chosen before by the god, to us, who did eat with and did drink with him after he had risen from among [the] dead. And he charged us to proclaim to the people, and to testify fully that he it is who has been appointed judge of living and dead by the god. To him all the prophets bear witness, [that] every one that believes on him receives remission of sins through his name." (Acts 10:34-43).

 

Several points stand out in this section of scripture. First, Peter has obviously undergone a dramatic change, and is now willing to accept Gentiles as equal with Jews!

 

Second, Peter offers a somewhat different version of the glad tidings, which is peace by Jesus Christ. This is actually peace with the invisible god, coming through Jesus, the Christ. All has been forgiven, and people can approach The God directly, through Jesus, the Christ. Peace reigns supreme!

 

Peter also made it very clear that Jesus is lord of all, not just some. He is now lord of both believers and non-believers. All people owe obedience to him, and obedience will be required of all. The judgment of works is still future, but as I Peter 1:17 says,

"And if [as] father ye call on him, who without regard of persons judges according to the work of each, ye pass the time of your sojourn in fear."

 

Note: A thorough discussion of the works which are pleasing to the lord is in our book, The Truth Revealed in Romans.

 

Third, Peter reviewed who Jesus was with the words, "how the god anointed him with holy spirit and with power, who went through doing good and healing all that were being oppressed by the devil, because the god was dealing with him."  Even Jesus, who spent his time on earth as a man, had to be obedient to the portion of holy spirit which fell upon him, just as we should do now. Peter was telling them that now they also have holy spirit, which endows them to fulfill the purpose for which The God called them through his son, Jesus, the Christ.

 

Fourth, Peter told Cornelius that Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but they crucified him.

 

Fifth, Peter pointed out that The God had raised Jesus from the dead. Peter never left Jesus in the grave. It is extremely difficult to imagine that Peter would carry about a staff with a likeness of the crucified, dead, Jesus on it! Peter preached a resurrected Jesus. Whenever the apostles mentioned the death of Jesus, it was either to teach what was accomplished by that death, or, as Peter did here, to show that he did not stay in the tomb.

 

Sixth, Peter pointed out that The God had chosen the apostles to be witnesses of Jesusí resurrection, and charged them,

"to proclaim to the people, and to testify fully, that he it is who has been appointed judge of living and dead by the god." (Acts 10:42).

 

Peter definitely saw a difference between The God, and the one he appointed to judge. He never looked upon them as being one and the same. Peter also taught that Jesus will be the one who judges the living and the dead.  However, be careful not to take this out of context to mean that people will again be judged for their sins. The judgment of Jesus will be of their works.

 

Seventh, Peter made a statement that is often misinterpreted: "To him all the prophets bear witness, [that] every one that believes on him receives remission of sins through his name."  Many people claim that this means people must believe in order to be "saved."  However, believing is not necessary in order to get The God to grant us salvation!  Salvation is purely of grace, a gift of The God to all humanity. What, then, does this verse mean?

 

Understanding Acts 10:43, requires examining the grammar involved. Who is doing the acting in this verse? It is not The God giving remission of sins when someone believes, as many assume. The word translated receive comes from labein, which is an aorist, active, infinitive. In Matthew 15:26, this same word was translated "to take."  The active voice shows that it is the believer who is acting, not The God. Therefore, the one who believes is able to take remission of sins, which The God has already granted.

 

The God does not grant forgiveness of sins because a person believes, but because of what Jesus did, indicated by the phrase "through his name." When a person believes, then that person, in essence, is enabled to take, or accept, the truth about the "forgiveness of sins."  The personís believing did not cause The God to bestow remission of sins, but it did change the believing person. A personís faith does not change The God, but it does change the person.

 

Further understanding comes through Jeremiah and Micah. Jeremiah 31:34 says,

"And each man shall no longer teach his neighbor, and each his brother, saying, Know Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for they all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

 

Jeremiahís prophecy says nothing about what people should do to secure such forgiveness. It is all of Jehovah.

 

Micah 7:18 says,

"Who is a god (Ďel:H410) like you, forgiving iniquity, and passing over transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger for ever, for he delights in mercy."

 

Again, there is no mention about the participation of people; only the actions of Jehovah are in view. When people believe, they are merely, by faith, enabled to take remission of sins as a truth.

 

An eighth point is added in Acts 10:44-46.

"Yet as Peter is speaking these words, the spirit the holy fell upon all those hearing the word. And the believers of the circumcision were amazed, as many as came with Peter, that the gift of the holy spirit had also been poured out upon the gentiles; for they heard them speaking with tongues and magnifying the god."

 

As Peter was speaking, "the spirit the holy" fell upon the Gentiles. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of holy spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles.

 

Notice that two very different aspects of holy spirit were indicated. One is that it fell upon all, and the other is that it had been poured out. The "fell upon" was something that happened as Peter was speaking. This is usually in the sense that holy spirit overwhelms someone to the point that they are under the complete control of the portion of holy spirit which has already been poured out earlier.

 

The "pouring out" had occurred on the day of Pentecost when some of holy spirit was poured out upon all flesh. Many of the Jews who had come with Peter were amazed because they had not yet grasped the truth that The God had included all flesh when holy spirit was poured out at Pentecost.

 

Let us pause for a brief summary of the eight facts about the heavenly father which Peter revealed in his short message.

 

●  The Levitical laws concerning what was clean and unclean had

     been abrogated.

●  The God had cleansed all men; none were unclean before him.

●  Jesus was obedient to holy spirit, just as we also should be.

●  Jesus was first sent only to Israelites, but then to all.

●  The God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day.

●  The God appointed Jesus to be the judge of all works.

●  The prophets taught salvation by grace.

●  Holy spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, as well as on

     the Jews.

 

Peter has learned more of the truth about the invisible god who had resurrected Jesus. By this time, holy spirit must have revealed many more of the truths Jesus had taught the apostles while he was here. By now, Peter was clearly aware of the presence of The God, something he did not understand previously. Now, when he uses the term "the god" he is not referring to Jehovah, but to the invisible god, father of the lord, Jesus, the Christ.

 

When the Jews back in Jerusalem heard that Peter had gone into a Gentile home, they called him back to explain himself. Even though they were believers, this was still a horror to them, just as it had been to Peter prior to his vision. Furthermore, they had heard that the Gentiles also received the word of The God.

 

Acts 11:15-18 says,

"And in my beginning to speak, the spirit the holy fell upon them, even as also upon us in [the] beginning. And I remembered the word of [the] lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with holy spirit. If then the god gave to them the like gift as also to us, having believed on the lord Jesus Christ, and I, who was I, [to be] able to forbid the god? And having heard these things they were silent, and glorified the god, saying, Then indeed the god also gave to the gentiles repentance unto life."

 

The phrase "and I remembered" substantiates that holy spirit, as promised, would bring to their remembrance things which Jesus had taught them earlier. Peterís entire message to the Gentiles was premised upon the fulfillment of that promise.

 

The clincher of Peterís argument to the Jews was that he heard the Gentiles speaking in the same tongues as did the Jews on the day of Pentecost. Why? Because holy spirit fell upon them. Be very careful, though, as this "fell upon" is not the same event as when holy spirit was "poured out" upon all flesh. The "fell upon" condition may happen only after people come to faith that Jesus is the christ.  [For a detailed discussion of this point, see Part III in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

Many of the believing Jews scattered to other cities after the stoning of Stephen, usually associating only with other Jews wherever they went. Some, however, spoke to the Hellenists. Acts 11:20-21 says,

"But were certain of them men Cypriots and Cyrenians, who having come into Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, announcing the glad tidings: the lord Jesus. And [the] hand of [the] lord was with them, and having believed a great number turned to the lord."

 

Here, again, as earlier, the glad tidings are identified as "the lord Jesus." Jesus was the one who revealed the grace of The God, especially through his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his ascension to the Father which revealed the presence of this hitherto unknown invisible god. In essence, this is how the gospel, or glad tidings, could be summed up in the phrase "the lord Jesus."

 

When the assembly in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas as far as Antioch to investigate. Acts 11:23 says,

"Who having come and having seen the grace of the god rejoiced, and exhorted all to abide with the lord with purpose of heart."

 

Note that Barnabas equated the glad tidingsóthe lord Jesusówith the grace of The God. Jesus only brought to view, or made visible, the will of The God, or his grace.

 

In Acts 12, the scene shifts to Herod, the king, who, for political expediency, killed James, the brother of John. When he saw that this pleased the orthodox Jews, he had Peter arrested, thrown in jail, and sentenced to death.

 

The assembly of believers prayed for Peter's deliverance, which was granted when an angel came to Peter, undid his chains, opened the doors of the prison, and then left him. Peter went to a home where the assembly was staying, and knocked on the door; however, when the door was opened, they thought he was only an apparition. Once Peter had proved it was really him, he then left.

 

The next day, when Peter was found missing from prison, the soldiers who had been guarding him were executed for their failure to keep him in custody.

 

Herodís fate is described in Acts 12:21-24.

"And on a set day Herod, having put on apparel royal, and having sat on the tribunal, was making an oration to them. And the people were crying out, [The] voice of a god and not of a man! And immediately an angel of [the] lord smote him, because he gave not the glory to [the] god; and having been eaten of worms, he expired. But the word of the god grew and multiplied."

 

Keep in mind that when [the] appears in the scripture passages, that means it was not in the Greek text. Thus, the above would read as follows. "A voice of a god...an angel of a lord...gave not glory to a god."  The apostles sometimes used the term "a god," and sometimes they used the term "the god."  This was probably because every time they used the word "god," they did not necessarily mean "the god."  Only by reading "god" or "the god" in context can it be discerned what god the speaker was referring to.

 

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Paul and Barnabas

 

Paul joined Barnabas in Antioch, and on the sabbath they went into the synagogue. The rulers of the synagogue, after reading from the law and the prophets, said to Paul and Barnabas,

"Men, brethren, if there is a word among you of exhortation to the people, speak." (Acts 13:15).

 

Then, Paul spoke to the people, first reviewing some of Israelite history, then turning to the topic of the lord, Jesus, the Christ (Acts 13:23-38). In this discourse, Paul used the words "the god" a number of times, several of which we will examine.

 

Acts 13:23 says,

"According to promise the god raised up a savior to Israel, Jesus, of the seed of this [man]."

 

Note carefully that it says Jesus was raised because of a promise to Israel, because The God wanted people to depend upon his truthfulness, or righteousness. The God had promised!

 

Acts 13:26 says,

"Men, brethren, sons of [the] race of Abraham, and those among you fearing the god, to you the word of this salvation was sent."

 

Paul began to widen the "word" of this salvation, not the salvation itself, to include anyone fearing The God. Paul would later preach that salvation was a gift to the whole world, but here the focus is on the proclamation of the word about salvation to Israel.

 

Acts 13:30 says,

"But [the] god raised him from among [the] dead."

 

The word translated from comes from the preposition, ek, which literally means "out from among."  In other words, Jesus was raised out from among the dead ones. He was the first to be resurrected in a glorified body to ascend to the invisible god in heaven. The rest of the dead [ones] were left in the grave, to await the resurrection when Jesus returns.

 

Acts 13:32 continues Paulís litany of what happened.

"And we to you announce the glad tidings, the promise made to the fathers, that this the God has fulfilled to us their children, having raised up Jesus."

 

Again, Paul brought the righteousness of The God to the forefront. The God had promised Israel, and The God kept his word. Although thousands of years had gone by since it was first promised, here is the fulfillment of it.

 

Acts 13:36-37 says,

"For having ministered to his own generation by the counsel of the god, David indeed fell asleep, and was added to his fathers, and saw corruption. But he whom the god raised did not see corruption."

 

Although David had served The God, he saw corruption and was still in the grave. However, his seed, Jesus, did not stay in the grave; neither did his flesh see corruption, but was changed into a glorified body, subject to the spirit rather than the soul.

 

Many people came out to hear Paul and Barnabas. The Jewish leaders were very jealous, and they stirred up folks against them and had them cast out of the city (Acts 13:45-50).

 

Paul and Barnabas then went to Lystra, where they were worshiped as gods, much to their chagrin. Acts 14:15 notes Paulís response.

"Men, why do ye these things? We are also men with you, of like feelings, announcing the glad tidings to you, to turn from these vanities to the god the living, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them."

 

However, the Jews came from Iconium and persuaded the people to stone Paul, leaving him for dead. The disciples brought him back into the city, and the next day he left for Derbe. The God was not yet finished with Paul.

 

After making disciples of  many people in Derbe, Paul and Barnabas returned the way they had come, back through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,

"Establishing the souls of the disciples, exhorting [them] to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations must we enter into the kingdom of the god." (Acts 14:22).

 

Paul and Barnabas were not teaching that the church was the kingdom of The God. They were urging people to continue in the faith, in order to enter into the kingdom.

 

Acts 14:23 indicates what they did to assure that people would continue in the faith.

"And having chosen elders for them in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they committed them to the lord, on whom they had believed."

 

It is not unusual today for churches to experience chaos, or even collapse, when the professional pastor leaves. Why did this not happen to these early assemblies? What did the apostles teach the people that sustained them until they were visited again by the apostles?

 

The answer is really rather simple: they did not have a pastor, as churches do today. Instead, they had elders, plural, and the message they preached was very different than what we usually hear today. 

 

Paul and Barnabas encouraged the people to remain in the faith, indicating that there would be many trials before they would be fitted to enter into the kingdom of The God.  The kingdom of The God was a future hope which will be realized fully at the second coming of the lord, Jesus, the Christ.  It was this message of hope that established a firm footing of faith.

 

Paul and Barnabas continued their journey until they arrived at Jerusalem, where they found themselves in a doctrinal dispute with the Pharisees. Acts 15:5 says,

"And rose up certain of those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is necessary to circumcise them, and charge [them] to keep the law of Moses."

 

This was only the beginning of the continual hounding suffered by Paul. These were believing Pharisees who accepted that Jesus was the christ, but they did not believe that the Levitical laws had been annulled. They followed Paul to Galatia and tried to subvert the believers there, saying they also had to keep the law.

 

This was the beginning of the split between those who claimed that both Jesus and circumcision were necessary, versus those who believed that Jesus had fulfilled the law and that to be circumcised would cause a fall from grace. The tension over this very fundamental truth finally resulted in a wide void between many believing Jews and the new converts to this Jesus way.

 

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The testimony of Peter and James

 

Acts 15:6-11 relates Peterís testimony.

"And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to see about his matter. And much discussion having taken place, having risen up, Peter said to them, Men, brethren, ye know that from early days the god chose among us, [for] the nations to hear by my mouth the word of the glad tidings, and to believe. And the heart-knowing god bore witness to them, giving to them the spirit the holy, as also to us, and put no difference between both us and them, having purified their hearts by the faith. Now therefore why tempt ye the god to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe by the grace of [the] lord Jesus Christ to be saved, in the same manner as they also."

 

Peter revealed even more about The God: that he chose Peter to bear witness to the Gentiles in the early days. The God was also described as a "heart-knowing god," who purifies hearts through "the faith."  The term "the faith" included all the truths about Jesus. It includes what he did and who he was: the son of The God, king of kings, the one who would return again to set up his kingdom.

 

Peter considered that putting works, or law, upon the disciples was tempting The God. The word translated tempt comes from peirazete, which means,

"to try, make trial of, test: tina, for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself." (Thayer, p. 498).

 

In other words, Peter told them they were tempting The God by placing law demands upon the new disciples. It is interesting to see how Peter, Paul, and the other apostles continued to reveal more about The God.

 

Acts 15:13-21 relates what James said on this same occasion.

"And after they were silent, James answered, saying, Men, brethren, hear me. Simeon related how the god first visited to take out of nations a people for his name. And with this agree the words of the prophets: as it has been written, After these things I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen; and the ruins of it I will build again, and will set it up, so that the residue of men may seek out the lord, and all the nations upon whom my name has been called, upon them, says [the] lord who does all these things. All his works are known to the god from eternity. Wherefore I judge not to trouble those from the nations who turn to the god; but to write to them to abstain from the pollutions of the idols, and fornication, and what is strangled, and blood. For Moses from generations of old has in every city those proclaiming him in the synagogues, being read every sabbath."

 

James was the brother of Jesus, and what he said carried a great deal of weight with the others. To bolster his argument, he quoted from Amos 9:11-12 concerning what the prophets had said. However, even James could not completely resist placing some requirements upon the Gentile disciples. He did, however, understand that The God had turned to the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, to get a nation for himself.

 

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Paul and Silas

 

When Paul left for another journey, he took Silas with him. Acts 15:40 says,

"But Paul, having chosen Silas, went forth, having been committed to the grace of the god by the brethren."

 

It is questionable whether Paul was as committed to the grace of The God at this point as he would be later in his life when grace became the basis of all that he taught. At this time, he, like the other apostles, was primarily preaching that Jesus was the christ, and that the kingdom of The God was coming soon. In his later epistles, Paul would expand his teaching in a masterful manner.

 

Paul and Silas were thrown in jail at Philippi. As they were praying, an earthquake shook the jail, opened the doors, and loosened their chains. However, they did not flee, which would have cost the jailerís life.

 

When the jailer found them, he asked,

"Sirs, what is necessary for me to do that I may be saved?"

 

Their simple response was,

"Believe on the lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house." (Acts 16:30-31).

 

Note carefully that being saved was something in the future. To Paul, salvation would take place when Jesus returned to set up his kingdom. It was not an immediate event, but something yet in the future. 

 

Faith in what Jesus accomplished is the basis on which we may enter the kingdom. This does not mean a one time faith, but a continual believing. Today, many teach that people are saved, and going to heaven, when they ask God to forgive their sins. Such teaching is a corruption of the term salvation.

 

Acts 17:2-3 describes what Paul and Silas taught when they arrived at Thessalonica.

"And according to the custom with Paul, he went in to them, and for three sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, opening and setting forth that it behoved the christ to have suffered and to have risen from among [the] dead, and that this Jesus whom I announce to you, is the christ."

 

Again, when many of the chief women and devout Greeks, as well as some of the Jews, believed and joined with Paul and Silas, the non-believing Jews became jealous. They told the authorities that Paul and Silas were announcing another king other than the one then ruling, and Paul and Silas had to flee once more.

 

Before leaving this scripture, we must emphasize the importance attached to the truth that Jesus is the christ. This point receives little emphasis in many churches today. Most Christians do not even know what the term "christ" means; some people even think it is his second name.

 

While the resurrection is preached frequently, very little is said about the ascension to the right hand of the Father. However, it is the ascension which gives credence to the truth that Jesus is the christ. Without the ascension, he would be neither lord, nor christ. Please remember that the word "christ" is an indication of an office, not a proper name as so many assume.

 

Paul then went to Athens and taught the glad tidings about Jesus and the resurrection. In his later letters, Paul would teach the new assemblies the far-reaching implications of the resurrection. But here in Athens, on Marís hill, he only offered a few thoughts beyond the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Acts 17:22-31 gives Paulís message to the Athenians, which includes some interesting, previously unexpressed thoughts specifically designed to suit a special situation.

"And Paul, having stood in [the] midst of Marsí hill, said, Men, Athenians, in all things I behold you very religious (very reverent to demons); for passing through and beholding objects of your veneration, I found also an altar on which had been inscribed, To an unknown god. Therefore, whom ye reverence not knowing, him I announce to you. The god who made the world and all things that [are] in it, he being lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in hand-made temples, nor is served by hands of men as needing anything, himself giving life and breath in every [respect] to all; and he made of one blood every nation of men, to dwell upon all the face of the earth, having determined fore-arranged times and the boundaries of their dwelling, to seek the lord; if perhaps they might feel after him and might find him, though indeed not being far from each one of us; for in him we live, and move, and are; as also the sons of poets among you have said, For of him we are also offspring. Therefore being offspring of the god, we ought not to think that which [is] divine to be like to gold, or silver, or to stone, a graven thing of art and imagination of man. Therefore indeed the god having overlooked the times of ignorance, now charges all men everywhere to repent, because he set a day in which he is about to judge the habitable world in righteousness, by a man whom he appointed; proof having given to all [in] having raised him from among [the] dead."

 

In this speech, Paul set forth more attributes of The God.

 

1  Paul said they were worshiping demons, although the word demons did not carry the same meaning then as it does today. Demons, whether good or bad, were simply considered those who carried messages to and from the gods.  [For an in-depth study of demons in the Bible, see our article, A Study of Satan.]

 

2  Paul identified the maker of heaven and earth as the invisible god of heaven, not Jehovah. He clearly saw that Jehovah (who became Jesus) was only the secondary power in creation. He was the word of the invisible god of creation, but he was not the invisible god.

 

3  Paul noted that The God dwells in heaven, not in temples as Jehovah did.

 

4  Paul said that The God is not served as though needing anything. This nullifies all the preaching to the contrary which tells people that "god needs you."  That kind of thinking only leads people to service based on law, rather than service based on love.

 

5  Paul said that The God gives life and breath in every respect. Life refers to spiritual life, while breath refers to physical life, or anything the body needs to sustain natural life. Paul made a distinction between the two kinds of life, but noted that both are complete gifts in every respect. Nothing can be added to either one that is not of The God. What a difficult lesson this is for fleshly people, and even most "saved" people, to understand.

 

6  Paul said that The God made all men of one blood and set the boundaries and times for them, and that he did this so they would seek the lord. In context, "the lord" refers to The God, not to Jesus. Most Greek manuscripts show this as "seek the god."

 

7  Paul said that in The God, we live, and move, and are. The word are comes from esmen, which means existence. Everything about us comes from The God.

 

8  Paul said that all people are the offspring of The God. This means that everyone was adopted by The God because the sacrifice of Jesus justified everyone. It does not mean that The God was the progenitor of all men, as some claim.

 

9  Paul said that The God is something divine, not some kind of artifact made of stone, silver, or gold.

 

10  Paul said that The God has ignored peopleís ignorance in the past, but is now telling people everywhere to repent, or change their minds, about The God, because he is divine.

 

11  Paul said that the reason they should change their minds, or repent, was because The God has set a day in which the world will be judged. Note, too, that The God will not judge the world directly, but has appointed a man, Jesus, who will do the judging. Paul said that The God has given proof of this by raising Jesus out from among the dead ones. Jesus, as a man, will do the actual judging under the auspices of The God.

 

When he left Athens and went to Corinth,

"Paul was pressed in the spirit, earnestly testifying to the Jews Jesus [to be] the christ." (Acts 18:5).

 

The Jews again rejected his teaching and Paul told them,

"Your blood [be] upon your head; I pure [from it]. From henceforth I will go to the nations." (Acts 18:6).

 

Up to this point, Peter had been the main voice of glad tidings to the Gentiles, but from this time on, Paul joined him in that ministry. His forays into the synagogues met with varied results, and from now on he would include the Gentiles in his ministry to a far greater degree than previously.

 

Acts 18:9-11 says,

"And the lord said to Paul by a vision in [the] night, Fear not, but speak and be not silent; because I am with thee, and no one shall set on thee to ill-treat thee; because there is much people to me in this city. And he remained a year and six months, teaching the word of the god among them."

 

Paul did not confuse Jesus, or Jehovah, with the invisible god of heaven. Here, the words "the lord" refer to Jesus who is lord of all, and the word of The God.

 

Acts 18 also refers to a doctrinal dispute between Paul and the Jews, who claimed that,

"This [man] persuades men to worship the god contrary to the law." (Acts 18:13).

 

The Jews could not accept that the Levitical law in general, and the law of circumcision in particular, were no longer necessary. Therefore, when Paul taught that the Gentiles need not be circumcised, even those Jews who believed that Jesus was the christ often rebelled. They maintained that without circumcision no man could come under the covenant and be a child of Abraham. Paul said this belief in Jesus plus circumcision was

"a different glad tidings." (Galatians 1:6).

 

Paul sent for the elders of Ephesus, asking them to meet with him in Miletus. Acts 20:19-21 notes that he reminded them how he had been,

"Serving the Lord with all humility, and many tears, and temptations, which happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I kept back nothing of what is profitable so as not to announce [it] to you, and to teach you publicly and from house to house, earnestly testifying both to Jews and Greeks repentance toward the god, and faith toward our lord Jesus Christ."

 

Paul again emphasized the importance of repentance, or a change of mind, about who The God really is.  The God is a living god. Change your mind and accept this kind of god. Then, believe that The God sent his son to be messiah, christ, lord, or king. This is the basis of proper faith.

 

Paul also told them that holy spirit had told him to go to Jerusalem where he would be bound. Acts 20:24 says,

"But I make account of nothing, nor I hold my life dear to myself, so as to finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I received from the lord Jesus, to testify fully the glad tidings of the grace of the god."

 

Paul had previously referred to the glad tidings of the kingdom of The God and the glad tidings of Jesus, the Christ. Now, he also called it the glad tidings of the grace of The God. To Paul, the grace of The God was a full salvation which had already been given to every man, woman, and child. Nothing they could do would earn it. They did not even have to "reach out and take it."  It was already theirs as a gift of grace. That gift of grace was also a salvation whose fulfillment will be entrance into the kingdom of The God.

 

In Acts 20:29-30, Paul spoke about the future of the church at Ephesus, and what he told them is still ravaging churches today.

"For I know this, that grievous wolves will come in amongst you after my departure, not sparing the flock; and from amongst your own selves, men will rise up speaking perverted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves."

 

It was not outsiders, but insiders, whom Paul warned against. The danger, he said, was the false, misleading religious leaders who would arise.

 

As predicted in his vision, Paul was bound in Jerusalem. After appealing his case to Caesar, he was sent under guard to Rome, where he continued to teach all who came to him. There he rented his own house, and taught all that came in to him (Acts 28:23). The Jews, however, still rejected the glad tidings, and Paul said to them,

"Therefore be it known to you, that the salvation of the god is sent to the nations; and they will hear." (Acts 28:28).

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 15

 

# The first thing to note is that these verses (John 1:1-5) were not written

     about the man, Jesus, but about the Old Testament Jehovah. The word

     "was" appears six times in these verses.  Let us consider the significance

     of these "was" statements. First, the word was a continuing word.

     Second, the word was constantly with The God. Third, the word was

     continuously a god. Fourth, the word was constantly with The God

     from the beginning. Fifth, the word was within himself continuous

     spiritual life. Sixth, the spiritual life within the word was the light of

     men. In all of these statements, John was expressly speaking of the Old

     Testament word, or Jehovah.

 

# Jesus told the disciples that holy spirit would guide them into all the

     truth about what he had said while here with them. They did not

     understand then, but now, they had begun to understand what Jesus

     had taught.  The book of Acts provides at least a partial explanation of

     what the apostles now taught.

 

# They were waiting, as ordered, for the coming of holy spirit. If the

     invisible god of heaven accepted his work, then Jesus would be given

     the holy spirit to pour out upon all flesh. If the spirit did not come, that

     would mean that Jesus had not passed the final test of his father.  Acts 2

     records the events surrounding the arrival of holy spirit on the day of

     Pentecost. This signified that Jesus was at the right hand of the Father,

     that he had received the promised spirit, and that he had given it as

     promised.

 

# Peter, quoting from Joel 2:28-32, said that what they were seeing was

     the event prophesied by Joel. Many churches today teach that the

     pouring out of holy spirit described by Joel will not happen until just

     before the return of Jesus. Peter, however, said that Joelís prophesy was

     fulfilled at that time.

 

# When the tabernacle was built, each part was to be exact because it

     reflected heavenly significance. The rending of the veil revealed that

     besides the veil before the holy place, and the one before the holy of

     holies, there had been, for hundreds of years, another veil which was

     only now being revealed. That veil was Jehovah, himself, who was

     hidden in the glory cloud over the mercy seat. Until the death of Jesus,

     the veil in the heavenly tabernacle had been a hidden veil. It had now

     been revealed to be Jehovah, who had become flesh as Jesus, whose

     flesh had now been torn. When the flesh of Jesus (Jehovah) was rent,

     the veil before the holy of holies was also rent at that exact time.  This

     signified that anyone who wished could now approach the very

     presence of The God in the heavenly tabernacle.

 

# Peter clearly understood about the invisible god of heaven, the father of

     the lord Jesus, the Christ!  This revelation was part of the truth which

     holy spirit revealed to the apostles.  When he used the term "the god,"

     he was usually speaking of the invisible god, the god whose existence

     he has only now come to realize.

 

# Father, son, and holy spirit are all modes in which "the god" may

     manifest some of his qualities; but even all of these together do not

     constitute even a small portion of "the god." It is impossible for us to

     know all about "the god," even though some claim to know.

 

# Now, Jehovah, or Jesus, in a manís glorified body, has been returned to

     the same position he had earlier. Jesus is now lord, kyrios, the one to

     whom direct obedience is owed. Not only is he is the lord of all

     [humanity], but he is the christ, or king, over all the earth. Everything

     is subject to him. He is the one who carries out the instructions and the

     will of The God, who manifests himself to us as the Father. 

 

# Jesus had said while on earth that he neither said nor did anything

     except what his father told him. Not only was that true while he was on

     earth as a human being, but it was also true when he was Jehovah, the

     god of Israel.

 

# Peter finally realized that Jesus is the mediator between The Godand

     men, but he is not The God. How much greater it would be if more

     people knew what Peter knew!

 

# Note here they use the term the lord, tou kyriou, referring to Jesus,

     not to the invisible god of heaven. This indicates that although our first

     obedience is to the invisible god, that obedience is given through his

     intermediary, Jesus, the Christ. Therefore, either Jesus or The God may

     be referred to as "the lord."  This usage was more common in the early

     ministry of the apostles than it was later on.

 

# Although the scriptures reported the words of Jehovah, what these

     Jewish people did not realize was that he was only the spokesman for

     The God. If they had accepted the message of the apostles they would

     have known this, but the apostles encountered the same

     misunderstanding that had plagued Jesus. By interpreting Stephenís

     words in terms of their own religious background, those words

     sounded like blasphemy. To them, there was no other god than

     Jehovah. But, to the apostles, this was no longer true.

 

# To Stephen, the phrase "the most high" now signified the invisible god,

     father of Jesus, the Christ. To the Jews, however, these words still meant

     Jehovah, who they knew as "the most high."

 

# In truth, Jesus was their Jehovah, who now was identified as being so

     great that heaven was his throne and earth his footstool. This was a

     manner of speaking which indicated the greatness of the one whom

     they had crucified, thereby becoming "betrayers and murderers."  This

     was more than the Jews could stand. They cast him (Stephen) out of

     the city and stoned him to death.

 

# When reading these scriptures, remember that Jehovah was only the

     spokesperson for the invisible god of whom Jesus, or Jehovah become

     flesh, was the anointed one.

 

# When Jehovah, the word of the Old Testament, became Jesus, the

     fleshly man, he emptied himself of all the attributes he had as Jehovah.

     He, like us, had to submit to holy spirit if he were to be obedient to his

     father, the invisible god of heaven. This is the reason that the spirit was

     "upon him," and no longer under his control as it was when he was

     Jehovah. Later, when he ascended to the Father, control of the holy

     spirit was again restored to him.

 

# Jesus said that no man has ever seen his heavenly fatherís form, or

     heard his voice (John 5:37). The invisible god of heaven speaks only

     through his word. In the Old Testament that was Jehovah, and in the

     New Testament it was Jesus, the Old Testament word become flesh.

     The office remains in the hands of the same person, but that person

     changes form: from a spiritual being in the Old Testament to a natural

     man in the New Testament.

 

# The God of heaven speaks only through another. No man has ever

     heard his voice, and no man ever will. The word is also the one who

     carries out the will of the invisible god, and brings his desires into

     being, making them visible to humanity.

 

# In the present day, various religious groups, including so-called

     "christians," are still persecuting and killing people because they

     disagree on some religious principle. The depressing part is realizing

     that this will never stop until Jesus, the Christ, returns to rule and reign

     over the earth. Religious men, without proper knowledge of the word

     of The God, are always dangerous men.

 

# Unfortunately, many people today never understand that Jesus expects

     something more than a nominal change in their lives. The current

     trend of "feel good" preaching is not going to bring about total

     commitment, and it cheats the people who listen to it, thinking they are

     being rightly guided.

 

# While the other disciples focused primarily on the resurrection, the

     ascension, and the coming of holy spirit upon all mankind, Paul took a

     different tack. He began his ministry by stating three facts. First, he

     said there is The God of heaven. Second, he proclaimed that Jesus was

     the Christ, not just any christ. Third, he substantiated this claim by

     saying what Peter had said earlier, that Jesus is the son of The God.

 

# Peter was informed that all the laws concerning what food was clean

     and unclean had been abrogated by the death of Jesus. The dietary

     laws of the Levitical dispensation were no longer valid.  Most people

     today have not yet learned the important lesson Peter learned because

     many denominations teach the exact opposite.

 

# The Jews did not believe that anyone except Jews and proselytes were

     hallowed, or set apart, by their god for his service. This attitude had

     developed among the very Jews whom Jehovah had said were

     supposed to reveal his love and care for all men. They would not even

     go into the homes of Gentiles, or have close conversation with them!

 

# That was exactly the message Peter received! The Levitical laws were

     no longer valid, and no man was to be considered as common, or

     levitically unclean. The death of Jesus, the Messiah, had changed all

     that. All men were now set apart to The God, and thus they were clean

     and allowed to enter into the presence of The God. Peter could no

     longer abide by the old restrictions upon associating with Gentiles.

 

# Even Jesus, who spent his time on earth as a man, had to be obedient to

     the portion of holy spirit which fell upon him, just as we should do

     now. Peter was telling them that now they also have holy spirit, which

     endows them to fulfill the purpose for which The God called them

     through his son, Jesus, the Christ.

 

# Understanding Acts 10:43, requires examining the grammar involved.

     Who is doing the acting in this verse? It is not The God giving remission

     of sins when someone believes, as many assume. The word translated

     receive comes from labein, which is an aorist, active, infinitive. In

     Matthew 15:26, this same word was translated "to take."  The active

     voice shows that it is the believer who is acting, not The God. Therefore,

     the one who believes is able to take remission of sins, which The God has

     already granted.

 

# The God does not grant forgiveness of sins because a person believes,

     but because of what Jesus did, indicated by the phrase "through his

     name."  When a person believes, then that person, in essence, is

     enabled to take, or accept, the truth about the "forgiveness of sins."

     The personís believing did not cause The God to bestow remission of

     sins, but it did change the believing person. A personís faith does not

     change The God, but it does change the person.  When people believe,

     they are merely, by faith, enabled to take remission of sins as a truth.

 

# Note carefully that it says Jesus was raised because of a promise to

     Israel, because The God wanted people to depend upon his truthfulness,

     or righteousness. The God had promised!

 

# Paul and Barnabas encouraged the people to remain in the faith,

     indicating that there would be many trials before they would be fitted

     to enter into the kingdom of The God.  The kingdom of The God was a

     future hope which will be realized fully at the second coming of the

     lord, Jesus, the Christ.  It was this message of hope that established a

     firm footing of faith.

 

# Faith in what Jesus accomplished is the basis on which we may enter

     the kingdom. This does not mean a one time faith, but a continual

     believing. Today, many teach that people are saved, and going to

     heaven, when they ask God to forgive their sins. Such teaching is a

     corruption of the term salvation.

 

# We must emphasize the importance attached to the truth that Jesus

     was the christ. This point receives little emphasis in many churches

     today. Most Christians do not even know what the term "christ"

     means; some people even think it is his second name.

 

# While the resurrection is preached frequently, very little is said about

     the ascension to the right hand of the Father. However, it is the

     ascension which gives credence to the truth that Jesus was the christ.

     Without the ascension, he would be neither lord, nor christ. Please

     remember that the word "christ" is an indication of an office, not a

     proper name as so many assume.

 

# The Jews could not accept that the Levitical law in general, and the law

     of circumcision in particular, were no longer necessary. Therefore,

     when Paul taught that the Gentiles need not be circumcised, even those

     Jews who believed that Jesus was the christ often rebelled.

 

# Paul again emphasized the importance of repentance, or a change of

     mind, about who The God really is.  The God is a living god. Change

     your mind and accept this kind of god. Then, believe that The God sent

     his son to be messiah, christ, lord, or king. This is the basis of proper

     faith.

 

# Paul had previously referred to the glad tidings of the kingdom of The

     God and the glad tidings of Jesus, the Christ. Now, he also called it the

     glad tidings of the grace of The God. To Paul, the grace of The God was

     a full salvation which had already been given to every man, woman,

     and child. Nothing they could do would earn it. They did not even

     have to "reach out and take it."  It was already theirs as a gift of grace.

     That gift of grace was also a salvation whose fulfillment will be

     entrance into the kingdom of The God.

 

# It was not outsiders, but insiders, whom Paul warned against. The

     danger, he said, was the false, misleading religious leaders who would

     arise.

 

 

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October 2009

 

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