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225: Acts 12 – Lesson 3 Part 1 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 19

ACTS 12

We get lots of mail, and once in a while I like to share a letter with you from our television audience. This letter comes from Indiana, and part of it says, “We appreciate your teaching and how you can show everything in The Bible fits together. Questions I have had for years have been answered when separating Peter and Paul’s teachings. Oh. how I wish everyone could see this.” And so do I. Because that’s when the Scriptures open up, when you can see how all these things are progressively unfolded. You can’t jumble them all together, but you must keep them completely separated.

This past week we had a couple of phone calls from people who have been in cults for years. One young lady from the Minneapolis area said that she had been raised in a cult. She told me that she had watched the program for three weeks, and the way I used the Scriptures just totally opened her eyes to where she could now see where she has been misled. She went on to say how she appreciated all the references. I’m not here to show you how much I know, but to prove that what I teach is not based on just a verse here and there. I like to use lots of references from Genesis Chapter 1 to Revelation Chapter 22. Everything fits, and if it doesn’t fit then you’re on shaky ground. This Book was written by the Almighty God for the purpose of fitting everything together. It all dovetails so beautifully. If you have questions where something doesn’t fit then something is wrong. Go back and search the Scriptures.

In our last lesson we finished Acts Chapter 11. For a bit of recap, we saw the stoning of Stephen and were introduced to Saul of Tarsus (Acts Chapter 8). In Chapter 9 we had the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. Almost immediately God sent him out into the desert in Arabia, where He revealed to him the doctrines of Grace, over what we think was a three-year period of time. During that time God commissions Peter to go up to the house of Cornelius. I always say I thank God that Acts Chapter 10 follows Acts Chapter 9. Not numerically, but in content. Because this again makes everything fit so beautifully. Had the content in Chapter 10 taken place before Saul’s conversion, then I couldn’t teach the way I do. But it didn’t. Saul was converted in Chapter 9, as the head of that long line of sinners that will be saved by Grace (Ref. I Timothy 1:15,16). In the next chapter, God sends Peter to Cornelius’ Gentile house. Though Peter couldn’t comprehend it, he had to admit that God did save Gentiles without bringing them into contact with Judaism. So the transition out of Judaism proceeds, with God dealing with Israel. Now He’s going to the Gentiles.

Then we saw that many of these Jewish believers who had been chased out of Jerusalem, as a result of Saul’s horrible persecution, got as far as Antioch, close to the Mediterranean Sea in Syria. There God began to generate interest among Gentiles for the first time. You don’t catch that back in the earlier chapters of Acts, that Gentiles were coming and asking about things concerning the God of Israel. But up in Antioch Gentiles had become interested. When the Jewish believers at Jerusalem heard about that, they got shook up, and sent Barnabas to check it out. Then when Barnabas, God’s man at the right time, saw indeed that God was beginning to deal with Gentiles, he went looking for Saul. He didn’t just accidentally run into him, but rather went looking for him, and when he found him he brought him back to Antioch. And then Paul and Barnabas ministered to that Gentile congregation for eighteen months.

In Chapter 12, still in transition, we leave Paul and Barnabas for a while, and come back to Jerusalem and Peter. Most of you are familiar with this chapter. Peter is in prison, and all those Jewish believers are praying for him. If it wasn’t so pitiful, it would almost be funny. Here they are having a prayer meeting in the home of one of the believers for the release of Peter in prison. The angel does open the prison doors and escorts Peter to the street. Peter goes down and stands at the gate where the prayer meeting is being held. When a young lady goes out to see who is knocking, she doesn’t even let him in, but runs back into the house to tell them, “Peter’s at the door!” Did they believe her? No! They had been praying fervently for his release, and when it happens, they couldn’t believe it. We’re no different today. We pray and pray, and most of the time we really don’t believe it’s going to happen. But you had better believe it, because God is a prayer-answering God.

So throughout Chapter 12, God has been dealing with Peter and the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Now to Chapter 13, where again we go back to Paul up in Antioch. With the exception of that little interlude in Acts Chapter 15, we found it to be a parallel to Galatians Chapter 2. From this point on, you won’t see another word concerning Peter. Not a word. Isn’t that amazing! In the first eight chapters, it was all Peter, and nothing of Saul of Tarsus. In Chapter 9 Saul is converted on the road to Damascus, but in Chapter 13 Peter fades off the scene, never to be heard from again, except for that one instance in Chapter 15, which is in 51 A.D. So everything concerns Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles. In his early ministry he’s going to go first to the synagogues of the Jews, because Romans 1:16 says by inspiration:

Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” So throughout his early years of ministry, Paul goes to the Jews first. He always starts at the synagogue. When they reject it, he goes to the Gentiles. Now verse 1 of Chapter 13.

Acts 13:1

“NOW there were in the church that was at Antioch (a Gentile Church under Paul’s teaching. Finally, we’re dealing with the Church we are acquainted with. The real New Testament Church, which is the Body of Christ. That consortium of every born-again believer, whether we are Jew or Gentile, we are all placed into the Body of Christ the moment we are saved) certain prophets and teachers (Paul never claims to be the only one, he merely claimed to be the first, the leader [Ref. 1 Timothy 1:15-16] and there were others that followed in his foot steps); as Barnabas, and Simeon that was call Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

Acts 13:2-4

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, `Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them (God is providential here. He is in complete control).’ And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away (that is out into the Gentile world). So they (Paul and Barnabas), being sent forth by the Holy Ghost (this is the work of God), departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”

Always remember that the Church which is His Body has no earthly headquarters. Oh, remember that. Denominations may have their headquarters, but the Body of Christ, the true Church, has no earthly headquarters. It’s in Heaven. Now Judaism, and Israel under the Law had Jerusalem as the headquarters. Everything funneled into and out of Jerusalem concerning the Jew. Never get hung up that there is an earthly headquarters for the Church. Remember way back when I started in Genesis 1:1.

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Do you remember how I tied that together? That all the way through Scripture, we have these two areas in which God works. God’s earthly people, Israel, and God’s heavenly people, the Body of Christ. You can’t mix them. God’s earthly people were predominately under Law. God’s heavenly people are under Grace. And there’s that chasm that keeps them separated. And so, consequently, as Jerusalem was the head of everything concerning the Jew, Heaven is the headquarters of the Church. Not Antioch or Rome or Jerusalem nor any other city that you can name. So they left with the Holy Spirit being the Sender. And they departed unto Seleucia and they sailed to Cyprus, the island. Now verse 5:

Acts 13:5-7

“And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews (He always goes first to the synagogues): and they had also John to their minister (John Mark, the young man who wrote the Gospel of Mark). And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos (at the other end of Cyprus), they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet(and a what?), a Jew, whose name was Barjesus (watch this closely because it’s very prophetic to a certain degree): Which was with the deputy (governor, the political leader, a Roman)of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.”

We see this constantly where Gentiles, by the urging of the Holy Spirit, show an interest in God’s Word. Even this Roman deputy indicates to Paul and Barnabas he wants to converse with them.

Acts 13:8-11a

“But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.” Elymas was probably his right hand man. And he tried to keep Paul and Barnabas from sharing the Gospel with this Sergius Paulus.” Verse 9:

“Then Saul (who also is called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him (that is this Jewish sorcerer), And said, `O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord (now here is the prophetic part)? And now, behold the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun (not forever but) for a season….'”

This Elymas is a perfect picture of the Nation of Israel as a whole. Because everywhere that Paul went, who were his strongest opposition? The Jews! Some Jews became believers, but for the most part they opposed Paul with their legalism. Let’s compare this with the Book of Romans Chapter 11. Now remember, Elymas wasn’t stricken blind for the rest of his life but only for a season. And the same way for the Nation of Israel. They have been blinded, but it’s not a permanent blindness; it’s temporary, although it’s been 1900 + years. One day the spiritual eyes of Israel are going to be opened.

Romans 11:7

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it (what did every Jew want deep inside? The King, The Messiah, The Redeemer. A few of them recognized Him. That’s what it means here. A few became the election. But the majority rejected Him), and the rest were blinded.” I’m not accusing Israel of anything, but The Book is.

I was listening to a tape by a Rabbi who was pointing out the differences between Christian doctrine and Judaism. Naturally he was under Judaism. He said Christianity teaches this and that, but Jews just can’t agree with that. But, he said, “Maybe it’s like the Book of Romans says, maybe we have been blinded.” There is no maybe about it; they have been. Most of them reject the basic truth even in the Old Testament. They refuse to believe that Jesus was The Christ, The Messiah. They simply can’t see it. But a Jew can be saved today just like a Gentile if he will open his eyes and his spiritual heart and believe it. For the most part, the nation has been blinded because of their rejection of The Messiah. So, this Elymas is a perfect picture of the Nation of Israel as a whole. But one day Israel’s eyes will be opened and they will see the truth of their Messiah. Isaiah says the Nation of Israel will be born in a day.

Acts 13:12

“Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”

Turn to I Corinthians. Remember that everyplace Paul went he preached the finished work of the Cross. And though every instance may not be real graphic, I want you to rest assured that every place that Paul went, this was the main theme of his message. Most of the time he will say if you believe that Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose again thou shalt be saved. And that’s what he preached to this deputy. Let’s look at I Corinthians 1 :17:

I Corinthians 1:17,18

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:… For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it (the preaching of the Cross, the Gospel) is the power of God.”

I Corinthians 1:22,23

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom (they’re philosophers): But we preach Christ crucified,…” That’s Paul’s theme throughout his letters. So, like it says in Acts 13:12, when the writer talks about the doctrine of the Lord having come from the lips of Paul you know what it was: how Christ died for the sins of the world. Now Acts 13:13:

Acts 13:13

“Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John (Mark) departing from them returned to Jerusalem.”

This will be a point of contention a little later in Paul’s ministry, because evidently John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, wavered when he got to the underbelly of Asia Minor. Going into those semi-civilized areas of barbaric-type people, Mark chickened out. That just plain English. Mark was fearful of what was out there. So he turned around and went back to Jerusalem. So later on when John Mark, a nephew of Barnabas, had matured and Barnabas insisted that they take John Mark with them again, Paul says, “No way! He chickened out on us once and that’s enough.” Maybe Paul might have been a little unforgiving, I don’t know. But anyway, this is why Paul and Barnabas had their falling out, and again we have to recognize that God must have been on Paul’s side, because it isn’t Paul who disappears from the scene, but Barnabas. And who takes Barnabas’ place? Silas. After that event, it’s Paul and Silas.

As they go up into Asia Minor they go up into that area where all of the basic early churches were located. All the churches that are listed in Paul’s letters and here in the Book of Acts were all in that western half of Turkey. Back in Biblical times that was called Asia Minor. And that went all the way to the western coast of Turkey where Ephesus was located. But in that area of Asia Minor was where Paul had his greatest work. All the cities that you are acquainted with, Colosse, Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira, they were all in that same graphical area. In our next lesson we will take a look at the tremendous message that Paul preached in the synagogue up there in Antioch of Pisidia. This is not the same as the Antioch of Syria which he and Barnabas left from.