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Thursday, February 28 2013

Acts: Luke's Second Letter To Theophilus

The Biblical Books that we know today as Luke (see Luke: The World Of The LORD) and Acts were originally written as two personal and private letters from Luke to a man named Theophilus. We may be very thankful that Theoplilus thereafter released or donated his letters into the public domain.

"1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." (Luke 1:1-4 KJV)

"1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 1:3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:1-3 KJV)

The Mount Of Olives

The Book of Luke ended, and the Book of Acts began, with the ascension of the Messiah (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Messiah). It seems likely that Luke was intending to write Acts while he was still writing Luke.

The end of the Book of Luke:

"24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." (Luke 24:50-53 KJV)

The same event, at the beginning of the Book of Acts:

"1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

1:10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:1-11 KJV)

The first chapters of Acts focus on the Church of God at Jerusalem. It also documents the establishment of Peter and the others ("Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice") as "one sent" (the actual meaning of apostle) to preach the Gospel.

Synagogue

"2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words" (Acts 2:14 KJV)

"3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 3:14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 3:15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 3:17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 3:18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:11-19 KJV)

During that time, for the same reason that they killed the Messiah, a great persecution began against the people of the LORD. The "leader" of the persecutors was a Pharisee named Saul who participated in the killing of Christ's people, including the martyrdom of faithful and courageous Stephen.

"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 7:54-60 KJV)

"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. 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:1-4 KJV)

The remainder of the Book of Acts documents the conversion of the Pharisee Saul, and then his ministry as the apostle Paul (see the studies list below).

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 enquire 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 shew 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)

Studies For The Book Of Acts

The Ascent From Bethany

What Happened When The Messiah Arrived In Heaven?

Did Judas Iscariot Repent?

The Fruit Of Pentecost

What Did Peter and John See That Others Didn't?

What Did Peter And Paul Say About Each Other?

The Joppa Lessons Of Jonah And Peter

Rose And Peter

A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty

The Stoning Of Stephen

The Crossing Of Philip And Saul

The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas

The Ministry Of Paul And Barnabas

What Did Jesus Christ Send Jonah And Paul To Do?

Paul Or Apollos?

Why Does The LORD Permit Persecution?

Paul's Ephesus Ministry

Paul's Resurrection Lesson

Fact Finder: The apostle Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus. What Biblical connection did Damascus and Syria have?
See Damascus In History And Prophecy and A Biography Of Jacob: The Jacobites Of Syria


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This Day In History, February 28

202 BC: Liu Bang became Emperor Gaozu of Han, beginning four centuries of the Han Dynasty of China.

1066: Westminster Abbey opened. Originally an abbey church of Benedictine monks, it became a national shrine of Britain.

1525: Aztec King Cuauhtemoc was executed by the forces of Hernan Cortes.

1638: The Scottish National Covenant was signed in Edinburgh.

1692: The Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria began.

1759: Pope Clement XIII granted permission for the Bible to be translated into the languages of the Roman Catholic states - provided that it was read and "interpreted" only by Catholic priests.

1784: John Wesley of the Church of England established his "Methodist Church" (also known as "the Wesleyan faith" or "the Methodists").

1825: A treaty was signed between Britain and Russia settling the border between Canada and Alaska. Alaska was then a Russian province.

1843: The Great March Comet of 1843 made its closest approach to the sun, only 120,000 km., less than a tenth of the solar diameter. For a few hours that day, the comet outshone any comet seen in the previous 7 centuries. Burning in the daytime sky like a brilliant, tailed star less than 1 degree from the limb of the sun, the comet's astronomical magnitude may have reached -17, more than 60 times brighter than the full moon. The tail eventually reached a length of 68 degrees, 3 weeks after perihelion, estimated to have stretched 300,000,000 km. across the inner solar system. The last time a comet was seen that close to the sun was in 1106.

1844: On the Potomac River, the U.S. navy was demonstrating its new frigate Princeton when one of its guns exploded, killing Secretary of State Abel Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas Gilmer and some other government officials.

1917: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), total ships sunk for the month by German submarines: 212.

1922: Britain declared Egypt's independence (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire), while keeping control of the Suez Canal (see also A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).

1940: British Colonial Secretary MacDonald terminated all further land sales to Jews in "Palestine" (see A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism). The move was officially intended to prevent arousing the Arabs, thereby destabilizing the region, which would have benefited Nazi Germany.

1940: The superliner Queen Elizabeth was launched in Britain.

1948: The last British troops left India which had then become independent.

1954: The U.S. detonated its second hydrogen bomb, at Bikini atoll. The expected yield of the weapon of mass destruction was 8 megatons; the actual yield turned out to be 15 megatons.

1969: A Los Angeles court refused Robert Kennedy's assassin Sirhan Sirhan's request to be executed.

1974: The U.S. and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after 7 years.

1993: The siege at Waco, Texas, began after U.S. federal agents tried to serve an arrest warrant for weapons charges on Branch Davidian sect leader David Koresh.

1996: Russia entered as the 39th member of the Council of Europe.

1997: An earthquake in northern Iran killed over 3,000 people.





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