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Friday, March 2 2012

The Crossing Of Philip And Saul

The apostle Paul became one of the most well-known servants of the Messiah. Paul didn't however begin that way - when we first read of him, Saul, as he was then known, was persecuting, and even taking part in the actual killing, of Christians. Among those who were persecuted by Saul were seven men who had been chosen for a specific type of ministry, in order to free others to do the specific tasks that they had been given. Known as "the Seven" (or the seven "deacons"), they were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas.

"6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of The Holy Ghost and wisdom [see Christian Wisdom], whom we may appoint over this business. 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

6:7 And the word of God [see What Does Word of God Mean To You? and A Word Of God Reading Plan] increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:1-7 KJV)

Stephen was the first to be targeted by the Truth-hating religionists (see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and Is Your Church A Cult?).

False Witnesses

"6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." (Acts 6:8-14 KJV)

Like all true men of God (and unlike the "customer is always right" harlots that fill most of the pulpits of "Christian" churches today), Stephen did not preach what the vain and egotistical mob demanded ("30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 30:11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us" Isaiah 30:9-11 KJV; see also What's Your Angle?). The only "opinion" or "popularity" that Stephen was concerned about was that of the Messiah that he served. For that, Stephen was killed by the same people, with the same lies, who had caused the assassination of the Messiah (see Who Was Their Messiah?)

"7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:51-60 KJV)

Among the evil-minded (but, for most of them, still innocent, because they had not yet the Holy Spirit means to understand - the reason that both Christ and Stephen prayed to God to forgive them) people who murdered Stephen was Saul - later known, after his soon to come conversion, as the apostle Paul. Saul actually then became a Christian hunter.

"8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death.

And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." (Acts 8:1-3 KJV)

"Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven"

Both Philip and Saul were in Jerusalem at the time of the martyrdom of Stephen. That was their first crossing of paths - as enemies. Both of them then left the city - Philip north into Samaria, to escape the persecution at Jerusalem, and Saul on a journey to search out Christians wherever that he could find them - most-likely in pursuit of the scattering from Jerusalem that his own persecution of Christians had produced.

Philip and the Ethiopian

"8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8:8 And there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:4-8 KJV)

Those who were scattered were not somehow a loss to Christianity. Quite the contrary; as we read in the verses above, "they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." Philip was directed from Samaria (in central Israel between Judea in the south and Galilee in the north) to Gaza where the famous incident with the Ethiopian occurred - who then himself carried the Gospel message back home. Philip then went to live in Caesarea, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There, a few years later, Philip, as we will read, had his second encounter with Saul / Paul.

"8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this,

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

8:34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea." (Acts 8:26-40 KJV)

Meanwhile, the time for the conversion of Saul had arrived. His famous experience on the road to Damascus resulted in Saul becoming one of the greatest Christian teachers that the world has ever known.

Straight Street In Damascus

"9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

9:5 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 pricks. 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias.

And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight [see Straight Street], and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 9:12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 9:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 9:16 For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus." (Acts 9:1-19 KJV)

Caesarea

Paul then completed his famous missionary journeys (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey). It was on his return to Jerusalem from those travels that Paul, "through the Spirit," was directed to Caesarea where he "entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him" and "tarried there many days." The first crossing of Philip and Paul had been as enemies; their later crossing was that of brothers in Christ.

"21:1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 21:2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

21:3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. 21:4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

21:5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. 21:6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

21:7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

21:12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 21:13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 21:14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

21:15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem." (Acts 21:1-15 KJV)

Fact Finder: Did Paul later understand that Stephen would be resurrected?
See Paul's Resurrection Lesson


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This Day In History, March 2

962: Pope John XII (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy) crowned Otto I as the "Holy Roman Emperor" (see The Holy Roman Empire). When Otto succeeded his father Heinrich (Henry) as German king in 936, the people raised their right hand to show approval and shouted "Sieg und heil" ("victory and salvation"). Later historians would view 962 as the beginning of what would later be officially styled the Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanica ("The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation"). Otto's was "The First Reich" (Adolf Hitler's was "The Third Reich"; see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion)

986: Louis V became King of the Franks.

1127: Charles (known as "Charles the Good"), Count of Flanders, was assassinated.

1461: The Lancastrians defeated the Yorkists at the second Battle of St. Albans'.

1509: The Portuguese, led by Francisco de Almeida, destroyed the Muslim fleet in the Battle of Diu, establishing Portuguese control of Indian waters.

1536: Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza founded Buenos Aires.

1556: The world's worst earthquake, in China's Shaanxi, Shansi and Henan provinces, killed an estimated 830,000 people.

1619: Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I of England (after whom the King James Version of the Bible is named) died at age 45.

1626: Charles I was crowned king of England.

1653: New Amsterdam became a city (it is known today as New York).

1709: British sailor Alexander Selkirk was rescued after being marooned on a desert island for 5 years. His story was the inspiration of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe."

1797: The Bank of England issued the first one and two Pound banknotes.

1801: The War of The Oranges between Spain and Portugal began. French troops fought alongside the Spanish after Portugal refused Napoleon's demand to cede much of the country to him.

1807: The U.S. Congress passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, disallowing the importation of new slaves into the country (the Act did little to decrease slavery because there was already sufficient "breeding stock" in the U.S. to supply slave holders).

1808: French forces under Napoleon occupied Rome. Pope Pius VII was arrested and detained.

1836: Texas declared independence from Mexico.

1848: The war between the U.S. and Mexico ended after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.

1882: Queen Victoria narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by Roderick McLean in Windsor.

1943: The Battle of the Bismark Sea began. 12 Japanese ships carrying reinforcements to New Guinea were sunk by Allied airplanes, killing nearly 4,000 troops and sailors.

1945: During the Second World War, 1,200 British Royal Air Force planes bombed Wiesbaden and Karlsruhe in Germany.

1965: During the Vietnam Civil War (of which first France, and then the U.S. became involved), the U.S. began "Operation Rolling Thunder," a sustained heavy bombing campaign of North Vietnam.

1969: In Toulouse, France, the first test flight of the Anglo-French Concorde is completed.

1974: A grand jury in Washington concluded that President Richard Nixon was criminally involved in the Watergate cover-up.

1983: The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) resumed in Geneva.

1998: Scientific data from the Galileo spacecraft indicated that Jupiter's moon Europa has a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice.





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