1: “Christ Ascends”
Read Acts 1
The author of the book of Acts is Luke, termed “the beloved physician” by Paul. Although his name is found only three times in the New Testament, we have a fair amount of information about him from various sources.
Luke was a Gentile, and judging from his style of writing, a man of culture. The early Christian historian Eusebius states that he was from Antioch, although this is not certain. His professional background is reflected in his frequent use of medical terminology in his writings. Besides being a physician, Luke was also a preacher of the gospel, and we may presume that this became more important to him than his medical work.
Although his name is not attached to the book, Luke’s authorship of Acts is made certain by the fact that it is addressed to Theophilus (literally “lover of God”) as a sequel to the gospel which bears his name. He was apparently not an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus. In Acts we learn something of his activities when he switches his pronouns from “they” to “we” and back to “they”,
indicating where he joined and left Paul on the missionary journeys. It appears that he spent about six years in Philippi before accompanying Paul on his final trip to Jerusalem and journey to Rome as a prisoner for Christ. Shortly before Paul was killed we find him as the sole companion of the great apostle. (2 Timothy 4:11)
Introducing the Book
The book you are beginning to study is usually called “The Acts of the Apostles.” In ancient times it appears to have been known as “Acts of the Apostles” or simple “Acts”. In reality it is the story of some of the acts of some of the apostles of Jesus Christ, with special attention devoted to the work of Peter and Paul.
From the fact that the book closes abruptly after Paul had been imprisoned for two years, we conclude that it was written at that time, about 63 AD. It is an historical book tracing the story of the spread of the gospel from the establishment of the church, a span of a little more than thirty years. This was the most remarkable, and certainly the most significant period in the entire history of the church of our Lord. Without the knowledge gained from Acts we would be totally at a loss to answer many vital questions. While we have four accounts of the life of Jesus and a number of letters detailing the requirements of the Christian life, this is the only source of information relating to the early church, other than isolated references in the epistles.
What, then, may we learn by studying this important book? First, it relates the story of the establishment of Christ’s church and its spread within a generation to most of the civilized world. Second, it tells us much about that church how it was organized, how it worshipped, its problems, and the attitudes and concepts of those who composed it. Third, it describes nine specific examples of how people became Christians in apostolic times. The seeker of salvation can study this book, observe the examples of conversion to Christ, and follow this pattern with the assurance that he has thus been added to the family of God.
The Book in Outline
The 28 chapters of the book of Acts can be divided into many parts. However, to give a bird’s eye view of what you are about to study we will here notice the three main parts of the book.
1. Chapters 1-7 The establishment and growth of the church in Jerusalem.
Most prominent characters the apostles, especially Peter and John.
2. Chapters 8-12 The gospel spreads to Judea and Samaria.
Most prominent character Peter.
3. Chapters 13-28 The gospel spreads “into all the world.”
Most prominent character Paul.
Jesus Last Charge
The ACTS OF THE APOSTLES begins where the Gospel of Luke concludes. That book, plus Matthew, Mark, and John, relate the story of Jesus to the time of his ascension into heaven following his resurrection from the dead. Jesus had been crucified at the Jewish Passover in about 30 AD. The exact year cannot be positively ascertained. Three days later he came forth from the grave, and in a forty-day period thereafter he appeared upon numerous occasions to his followers, convincing them that he had broken the bonds of death.
Just before his ascension Jesus led his disciples out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, a short distance east of the city. Here he gave them their marching orders as he sent them forth into the world bearing the good news of his salvation. Three of the gospels record this Great Commission which in composite form reads like this:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Luke 24:46,47)
Luke in Acts further tells us that Jesus charged the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise from the Father. When they inquired whether he was then going to restore the kingdom to Israel, thinking about a literal kingdom in which Jesus would reign in Jerusalem, he replied that it was not for them to know the times or seasons fixed by the Father. It is evident that they still did not realize that Jesus kingdom was to be spiritual rather than material. He had earlier observed, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36 NIV) But still his disciples had not fully grasped that his kingdom was one in which Jesus would reign in the hearts of men.
Jesus then informed the disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them, referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit which occurred a few days later on Pentecost. He added that they would be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Thus they now knew that they were to bear the glad tidings of salvation, not just to the Jewish people, but to all mankind. The story of the book of Acts relates how they accomplished this purpose.
When Jesus completed his instructions to the apostles, he ascended from their midst into the clouds. Two men in white robes broke their rapt attention by informing them that as Jesus had gone into heaven, so he would come again referring to his second coming at the end of time.
The disciples returned to Jerusalem to wait, as Jesus had instructed, until the received the promised power of the Holy Spirit. With the eleven chosen disciples who waited in an upper room were also the devoted women who had followed Jesus, including his mother, and his brothers as well.
A New Apostle
Judas Iscariot, one of the chosen twelve, had hanged himself after his betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. With the betrayal money, which Judas threw down in the temple, the chief priests purchased a potter’s field in which to bury strangers. It was called Akeldama, or the Field of Blood. While the followers of Jesus were waiting for the events which would soon transpire, Peter called these facts to the attention of about 120 of them. He quoted the Psalms, pointing out that in fulfilling a prophecy it was proper that another should be chosen to succeed Judas. He listed two requirements for the office:
1. He must have been with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension, and
2. He must have been a witness of his resurrection.
It is apparent that no one today meets these qualifications, and that therefore there can be no true apostles in the twenty first.
Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were chosen by the group, and after prayer, they cast lots to see which of the two was the choice of God to be numbered with the eleven. The lot fell on Matthias and he was thereafter counted as one of the apostles.
2: “The Day of Pentecost” Read Acts 2
Power from Heaven
How would you react if a miracle were performed before your eyes? Would you try to explain it away? Would you accept it as having occurred? Or would you investigate further?
This was a problem faced by a Jewish multitude gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, one of three annual festivities at which all male Jews were expected to be present. These were people assembled Parthia and Media, from Egypt and Rome, as well as from many other lands. All were aware that a little more than seven weeks before an itinerant preacher named
Jesus had been crucified by the Romans at the insistence of Jewish leaders. His disciples claimed that he had arisen from the dead, but unsupported claims of friends scarcely convince the skeptic.
Now in the temple area a strange phenomenon occurred. Where the disciples of Jesus had assembled there was suddenly a sound from heaven as of the rushing of a mighty wind. Tongues of fire were seen sitting upon them, and stranger yet, these men began to speak in languages which they had obviously never studied. Each Jew was able to understand in his native tongue. We know this was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see Discussion below) which Jesus had promised, but for the Jews, what could be the explanation? Some asked, What does this mean? The scoffers mocked, They are filled with new wine.
Peter’s Great Sermon
Until now the apostles had been individually testifying to the Jews of their faith. Now Peter, their spokesman, stood before the whole group to present the first great gospel sermon. We probably do not have it in its entirety, but the message was the prototype of what the apostles would always present to lost sinners.
Peter first refuted the charge that the apostles were drunk when they began to speak in other languages. This could not be since it was but the third hour of the day, about 9:00 a.m. according to our time. Seldom do men get drunk so early in the day. Instead, Peter declared, the speaking in many languages was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel,
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. (Acts 2:17)
When speaking to the Jews, the apostles often quoted the Old Testament prophets as a means of proving that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
Peter then presented the basic facts regarding Jesus.
1. He had performed signs and wonders in their presence. This they knew.
2. He had been crucified by the Romans at the urging of the Jews themselves.
3. God raised him from the dead in accordance with the prophecy of David.
4. That he was in fact raised could be testified to by the apostles themselves whose witness had been reinforced by the miracles they had seen that day.
5. Jesus was now at God s right hand in heaven.
6. Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
What Shall We Do?
So forceful was Peter s message that the multitude was cut to the heart. They cried, Brothers, what shall we do? Peter had just told them that they were murderers for having crucified the Christ. How, they asked, could they be forgiven of so gross a sin?
Peter s response was immediate.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38,39)
Peter did not tell them to believe in Christ. Their cry for help shows that they already did. But two things were necessary if they were to be forgiven. First, they must repent. Repentance is a change of heart prompted by godly sorrow which brings about a change of life. The one who repents gives himself unconditionally to Christ. Second, they must be baptized. The purpose of their baptism was to receive the forgiveness of sins. And when their sins had been forgiven, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, that indwelling of God s Spirit which is promised every child of God. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)
Furthermore, Peter added, these blessings would be received by all future generations who would accept Christ in the same manner.
Why did Peter connect baptism and the remission of sins? Is there some magical property in the water of baptism? Indeed not. We are saved by the blood of Christ shed at Calvary.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7,8)
But baptism is that final act of obedience which puts sinful man into the death of the redeeming Christ where he may avail himself of the blood to remove his sins. Paul expresses it this way:
Or don t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3,4)
Then it follows that baptism is the avenue through which one must pass to have his sins forgiven through the blood. And since man cannot be saved without forgiveness and since baptism is essential to having ones sins forgiven, it follows that baptism is essential to salvation. Jesus himself declared, Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved& (Mark 16:16)
A Harvest of Souls
The result of Peter s preaching was as amazing as the miracle which preceded it. About three thousand were baptized into Christ that day. They were added by Christ to his church which was born that day and of which the disciples were charter members. When one was saved from his sins, he was added by the Lord to his church. (Acts 2:47) From the beginning the saved constituted the church of God. The church is, by definition, made up of the saved. Sometimes people ask if one can be saved without being in the church. This is as impossible as it is for a cocker spaniel not to be a dog. The church is the saved. Of course we are speaking of the undenominational body of Jesus Christ for which he died (Acts 20:28), and not any human denomination. All who obey the same gospel as did the three thousand on Pentecost are added by Christ to his church and it is unnecessary for them to join a denomination that seeks to separate itself from others who would follow Jesus.
These first Christians were dedicated. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42) The breaking of bread mentioned was the observance of the Lord s supper as commanded by Jesus on the night of his betrayal. (Matthew 26:26-28) They daily assembled in the temple, doubtless to more effectively teach others about the Jesus who they had accepted.
The material need was also great, perhaps because so many converts had stayed in Jerusalem instead of returning to their native lands. Whatever the reason, many sold their possessions and had all things in common to meet the pressing material need. Their action was voluntary and based on the love that they had for Christ and for one another. Then, as now, service is best expressed from a heart of compassion rather than being ordered by duty.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the gospel which was first preached that day with such marvelous results would turn Jerusalem upside down, and before long result in a persecution which would spread the message of Christ throughout the world?
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is only mentioned six times in the New Testament. Four times (Matthew 3:11,12; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33) it is a promise of John the Baptist of what would be given by Jesus. The demonstration of heavenly power in Acts 2 is the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus just before his ascension.
For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5)
The other instance is recorded in Acts 10 and 11 at the household of Cornelius when the first Gentiles were converted. (See Acts 11:16) The baptism of the Holy Spirit was characterized by an unlimited outpouring of power from above enabling those receiving it to speak in different languages. Unlike spiritual gifts transmitted by the hands of the apostles, it came directly from God with no human intermediary. In both examples it provided God s testimony that what was being witnessed was indeed of divine origin. However, in view of the fact that there is no other mention of it we should not expect to receive it today.
3: “The Jerusalem Church” Read Acts 3:1 – 6:7
A Lame Man Healed
The events of Pentecost made a profound impact on Jerusalem. The occurrences of the following days focused the attention of all upon the message of Jesus. Shortly after the baptism of the 3000 an event took place at the temple gate, Beautiful, which filled the city with amazement. At the ninth hour of the day, about 3:00 p.m. our time, Peter and John responded to the cry of a lame man begging alms. Peter said,
Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. (Acts 3:6)
The beggar arose, and began walking and leaping in the temple area, astounding those who knew of his previous condition.
Soon a crowd assembled in Solomon’s Portico, and Peter seized the occasion to present his second great gospel sermon. He attributed the healing of the lame man to his faith in Christ, the Jesus whom they had killed. Calling Jesus the prophet of whom Moses had spoken, he directed them to
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from
the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
He further told them that God had sent Jesus to turn them from their wickedness and had raised Him from the dead.
Arrested for Jesus
Such a declaration did not go long unchallenged. The doctrine of the resurrection provoked the Sadducees, the ruling party, who denied that there is life after death. Peter and John were arrested and brought the next day before the Jewish Council. When asked by what power they had healed the lame man, Peter responded that it was through the resurrected Jesus Christ of Nazareth through whose name men are saved.
The men before the Council were obviously uneducated, yet just as obviously through them a miracle had been performed. The Council sent them out so they might decide on a course of action. When they returned they charged them to speak no more of Jesus. Peter and John replied,
Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19, 20)
The apostles always taught obedience to the laws of the land, but just as consistently declared that the law of God must take precedence over the laws of man. And with this declaration the die was cast in what was to be a continuing confrontation between the ambassadors of Jesus and the Jewish authorities who, fearing for their position, were determined to stop the growth of the religion of Jesus. The apostles were released and returned to the company of their brethren where they offered a prayer to the Lord.
The official opposition may be partially understood when the success of the apostles is considered. After 3000 had been baptized on Pentecost, the number soon grew to 5000 men. (Acts 4:4) A little later we are informed that more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. (Acts 5:14) It was not long before the ruling class was itself affected and we read,
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
The “establishment” was unwilling to lose its authority without a contest and the ensuing persecution eventually drove the Christians from the city.
Ananias and Sapphira
The sudden conversion of so many was not without problems. Some were in need, and it became a test of the practicality of the new religion as to whether it could cope with the poverty. Many voluntarily sold their possessions and brought the proceeds to the apostles so that distribution could be made according to need. How this demonstration of compassion and love must have affected the city! Christianity is a practical religion, and while we do not have another example of the early disciples meeting a problem in this way, the apostolic church always sought to translate its theory into practice.
We should not, however, think that the church was perfect. We become Christians, not because we are perfect, but because we are imperfect. Among the first converts were a husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira. Sensing that others of means were selling their possessions for the benefit of all, they sold a piece of land and brought part of the proceeds to the apostles,
pretending that they were bringing all. When Ananias arrived Peter said,
Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself
some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the
money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God. (Acts 5:3, 4)
Ananias was immediately stricken dead. The young men who were present took him out and buried him.
Three hours later Sapphira came, ignorant of what had occurred. When Peter asked if she had in fact sold the land for the amount that had been turned in, she also lied and affirmed that this was the case. She too dropped dead and was buried beside Ananias. The episode caused great fear to come upon the church and others who heard of the matter.
Note that these people were not required to sell their land, or even to give it all to the church once they did. Their problem was covetousness, and this in turn caused them to lie to God. The record does not say that Ananias even spoke a lie. But he did pretend one. When we attempt to deceive, even by action, we lie and stand condemned before God. The Bible tells us that all liars will have their lot in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (Revelations 21:8)
The apostles continued to heal the sick brought to them from towns around Jerusalem. The high priest and his associates could take it no longer, and they arrested them and put them in prison. That night the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and sent them out to speak the words of life. At daybreak, when authorities sent to the prison for them, they were preaching the word of God at the temple. Again they brought them in , rebuking them for seeking to bring on them the blood of the crucified Jesus. But the apostles replied, We must obey God rather than men! (Acts 5:29) Taking the advice of a wise teacher of the law, Gamaliel, the Council released the apostles after beating them rather than make them martyrs to a cause. And the apostles continued to preach God’s word wherever they had opportunity.
The Seven Chosen
The early converts in Jerusalem included a number of Grecian Jews who were not native to Judea. They came to feel that in the daily distribution of food their widows were being neglected. A spirit of dissension soon became apparent. To solve the matter the twelve asked the church to select seven men of good repute whom they might assign to the daily distribution in order that they, the apostles, might more fully devote themselves to spiritual matters. The seven chosen all had Greek names and apparently came from the very party which had murmured. This was a wonderful expression of generosity, love, and confidence on the part of the other disciples.
Although the term deacon is not directly applied to these men, it would appear that they were deacons in fact since the Greek verb which is used to describe their function has the same root as the word deacon. In apostolic times deacons were servants appointed to carry out delegated assignments, in this case, ministration to the physical needs of the widows.
Among those appointed by the apostles were Philip, who became a preacher of the gospel, and Stephen, the first Christian martyr, about whom we will study in our next lesson.
Witnesses for Christ
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32) With these words the apostles expressed their determination before the Jewish Council to tell the world about the risen Christ — in spite of threats, persecution, and imprisonment.
Jesus selected his apostles with care, training them to testify to others of what they saw and heard. When Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, one of his qualifications was that he must become &a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22) The conviction of these men caused them to testify to all of their faith, even in the face of death. James was killed with the sword (Acts 12:2) and there is evidence that the rest of the twelve, except John, died as martyrs for their Lord.
The courage of these men should inspire all Christians to tell the story of Jesus. True, we neither saw him walk the hills of Galilee nor heard him preach upon the mount, but through the evidence of God’s word we may declare with Paul, & Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted
to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:12) The apostles have shown us the way by dying for Jesus. Surely we may live for Him and witness by life and word our Savior. In the words of the hymn, “If the name of the Savior is precious to you. . . O, will you not tell it today?”
4: “The Spreading Word”
Read Acts 6:8 – 8:40
The First Martyr
Among the seven chosen to minister to the widows in the Jerusalem church was Stephen, described as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 6:5) How appropriate a description soon became apparent. The conversion of so many stirred up the city. Stephen, we are told, “did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.” Soon he was publicly disputing with
some of the Jews, who, unable to withstand the force of his words, leveled the charge of blasphemy against him. Under the law of Moses this was punishable by death. Stephen was seized and brought before the Council. The false witnesses declared,
This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us. (Acts 6:13, 14)
How would Stephen reply to these accusations? When asked by the high priest, “Is this so?” Stephen’s face shown as the face of an angel. Rather than protest his innocence as most of us would have done, Stephen chose to recount the history of the chosen people. Beginning with Abraham, he related the story so cherished by every Jew–Isaac, Jacob, his twelve sons, Moses, and the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He told the story of the golden calf, of Joshua, David, and Solomon, who built the temple of God. Then Stephen abruptly changed his tack. After pointing out that the Most High does not live in houses made by men,” he declared,
“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always
resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who
predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him–you who have
received the law that was put into effect through angelsbut have not obeyed it. (Acts 7:48, 51-53)
This was more than the Jewish leaders could take. To preach against their traditions was one thing, but to accuse them of killing the prophets and murdering Jesus was another. They were enraged. Stephen continued as he gazed into heaven, Look, I see heaven open and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56) Hearing this, they cried out against
him, stopped their ears, and dragged him out of the city to stone him. They laid their garments at the feet of a young zealot named Saul who by his actions approved of his death. We know him better as the great Apostle Paul. The character and faith of Stephen became apparent when, under the onslaught of stones he kneeled down and cried out, Lord, do not hold this
sin against them. (Acts 7:60) How truly Stephen had learned the lesson of forgiveness from his Lord who on Calvary had prayed for His murderers, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34) Surely if Jesus and Stephen could pray for those who killed them, we ought to learn how to forgive those who wrong us.
The Samaritans Converted
Stephen’s death touched off a great persecution. Except for the apostles, the disciples were dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria. The homes of Christians were broken into and the followers of Jesus were dragged to prison. Saul appears to have been the leader of this oppression.
It appears that it was God’s will that the Christians were scattered, because each of them went forth preaching the word. For them Christ had the words of life. They wanted others to know about Him. And they were not afraid to personally testify of the meaning of Jesus in their lives.
Among those scattered was Philip, another one of the seven Jerusalem deacons. He is later called the evangelist (Acts 21:8) which literally means a preacher of the gospel. And proclaim the good news of Jesus is what Philip did when he entered the city of Samaria. He reinforced his message by miracles of healing which he performed, causing much joy in the city. Luke tells of the results when he relates, But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12) Notice the order–Christ was preached, the people believed, they were baptized. We will find in other examples in Acts that this was always the order of conversion.
Among the converts was Simon, the magician. Unlike modern slight of hand artists who will tell you that the hand is quicker then the eye, Simon pretended to have the power of God. But the message of Philip was so powerful that even Simon believed and was baptized, forsaking his deceptive way of life.
The apostles heard what had happened in Samaria and sent Peter and John to strengthen the new converts. The Samaritans had observed the spiritual gifts possessed by Philip when he healed the sick. He apparently could not transmit this power to others because he did not do so. However, Peter and John, being apostles, did have the power to confer these spiritual gifts on others so that they too could perform miracles. The record says, Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:17) We might add that we have no record of others than theapostles being able to give these special gifts. This being the case, since the apostles are no longer with us, we are not to look for spiritual gifts today.
When Simon saw what Peter and John could do, his covetous nature got the best of him. He saw how much he could make if he had this power to give others the ability to perform miracles. Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit, he asked. (Acts 8:19) Peter’s retort was immediate.
May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!
&Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought
in your heart. (Acts 8:20-22)
Simon, realizing his spiritual condition, implored the apostles to pray for him.
Note that when Simon first heard the gospel he was baptized to have his sins removed. Now, however, as a sinful child of God, he is instructed, not to be baptized again, but to repent and pray for forgiveness. The Christian who sins does not need to be baptized again, regardless of how far he as sunk into sin. Rather he must repent of his sins and through his advocate Jesus, may implore forgiveness of the Father.
An Ethiopian Is Baptized
Peter and John preached in many Samaritan villages. An angel of the Lord, however, had another mission for Philip. He was instructed, Go south to the road– the desert road– that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. (Acts 8:26) When he reached the desert area between the two cities Philip saw a man riding in a chariot. He was a eunuch from Ethiopia, in charge of the
treasury of Queen Candace. He had come about 1500 miles to worship God in Jerusalem and was on his way back home. He was either a Jew or a convert to Judaism. He was reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the grandest description of the Messiah in the Old Testament. But he didn’t understand what he was reading and when Philip inquired if he did, he invited the preacher into the chariot. As they rode along Philip, beginning from this scripture, preached Jesus to the nobleman. We can imagine how he must have told him how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah, how he came to this earth as God’s son, how he taught all about the will of God, how he was arrested and crucified for the sins of man, and how he rose the third day, conquering death. But it is also apparent that in preaching Jesus Philipmust have told him that to get into Christ one must be baptized, for when they came to some water the Ethiopian asked, Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized? (Acts 8:36)
There was nothing to prevent his obeying Christ. They stopped the chariot.
Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:38, 39)
Notice that when the man decided to accept Christ there was no delay. He became a Christian then. In conversions recorded in Acts this was always true. And today, when one determines to obey his Lord, he should not delay, but accept Him immediately.
Baptism is Immersion
The Ethiopian’s baptism focuses our attention on how he was baptized. Since sprinkling, pouring, and immersion are all regarded as baptism today, we should consider how people were baptized in apostolic times. Consider:
1. The Ethiopian was immersed. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water (Acts 8:38, 39)
2. Jesus was immersed. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. (Matthew 3:16) As Jesus was coming up out of the water… (Mark 1:10)
3. Baptism is a burial. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death… (Romans 6:4) having been buried with him in baptism… (Colossians 2:12)
4. Baptism means immersion. The New Testament was written in Greek.Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines the word from which baptism is translated as follows: “baptism, a word
peculiar to New Testament and ecclesiastical writers, immersion, submersion.”
5: “To the Gentiles” Read Acts Chapters 9 – 11
A Persecutor Accepts Christ
When a man of deep convictions suddenly changes his life, we must look for something dramatic that has caused the transformation. Seldom has there been such a profound conversion as that which changed Saul the persecutor to Paul the proclaimer.
Saul of Tarsus, student of the great Gamaliel, was a zealous Pharisee who had guarded the garments of those who stoned Stephen. Convinced that it was his mission to exterminate the new religion of Christ, he received authority from the high priest to go to Damascus to arrest any Christians he might find and to bring them bound to Jerusalem.
A few miles from Damascus Saul was suddenly stricken blind at the flashing of a bright heavenly light. Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? a voice called. Who are you, Lord? Saul responded, uncertain as to what was happening. The voice continued, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. (Acts 9:4-6) Seeing that Saul was blinded, his companions led him by the hand into Damascus where he found lodging in the home of Judas on Straight Street.
For three days he prayed and fasted. He knew he had been wrong, but what should he do? Finally, a disciple of Jesus named Ananias (not to be confused with the husband of Sapphira) arrived to answer the question. Listen to Paul as years later he recounts the instruction of Ananias.
He stood beside me and said, Brother Saul, receive your sight! & The God of our fathers has chosen you to
know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of
what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away,
calling on his name. (Acts 22:13-16)
Saul obeyed and was baptized to have his sins forgiven, setting his course to preach the faith that he once tried to destroy. (Galatians 1:23)
Saul was not converted when he was struck down on the Damascus road as some think. Jesus did not tell him that he was saved or that his sins were forgiven. Rather He told him to go into Damascus where he would be told what he must do. His penitent heart is shown by his prayer while blinded, but his actual conversion occurred when in response to the direction of Ananias he was baptized to wash your sins away. (Acts 9:18, 22:16)
The citizens of Damascus were soon amazed to learn that the former persecutor of Christians was now proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God. Doubtless some were favorably affected by the transformation of this persecuting zealot, but others, seeing only a turncoat who was a threat to their religion, plotted to kill him. Learning of this, the disciples helped him escape by lowering him in a basket over the city walls. Back in Jerusalem, Barnabas, later his traveling companion, brought him to
the apostles, telling the story of his conversion and allaying their fears.
The First Gentile Converts
The message of Christ was spreading. Peter visited the saints in Lydda in Judea and healed a paralyzed man named Aeneas. Not far away was the seacoast town of Joppa. When a disciple in that city named Tabitha died, the Christians sent for Peter, who, by the power of God, raised her from the dead, causing the name of Christ to be glorified throughout the region.
Thirty miles to the north was Caesarea. Here there was stationed a devout Roman centurion named Cornelius, a man over 100 soldiers. He was destined to become the first Gentile convert. Until this time the gospel was preached only to Jews, although in His Great Commission Jesus had instructed His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It is apparent that even the apostles failed to realize the full significance of the commission. Most Jews were prejudiced against Gentiles or non-Jews. Since under the law of Moses the Jews were God’s chosen people, it is not surprising that the apostles did not realized that Christ’s message was universal. It took something extraordinary to convince them.
One afternoon, while Peter was still at Joppa, Cornelius while praying saw in a vision an angel of God who said to him,
Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea. (Acts 10:4-6)
Immediately Cornelius sent a devout soldier and two servants to carry out the mission.
The next day about noon Peter was praying on the housetop. (Their houses had flat roofs.) In a vision he saw a sheet let down by four corners to the earth.
It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice
told him, Get up, Peter. Kill and eat. (Acts 10:12, 13)
Now as a Jew raised under the law of Moses, Peter had always believed it wrong to eat certain kinds of meat, including those he saw in the sheet. We should not be surprised at his reaction. Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean, Peter responded. But the voice continued, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. (Acts10:14,15) This was repeated three times, greatly perplexing Peter. Did this message relate only to eating meat? Or was there a deeper significance?
Peter soon learned. At that moment the three men arrived to ask Peter to go with them. The Spirit of God instructed him to go that Cornelius too might learn about Jesus. Now Peter understood the statement, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.
When the party, including Christians from Joppa, arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius, his relatives, and friends were waiting. Peter related how God had told him he must not call anyone common or unclean. Cornelius, in turn, told how he had seen a vision and had been told to send for Peter to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.
Peter began his message,
I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34, 35)
He told about Jesus—His life, His good deeds, His death, and His resurrection. And then he said, All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)
While he spoke there was a sudden outpouring of power upon Cornelius and those with him. It was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which had occurred on Pentecost and which, as at that time, enabled them to speak in tongues and extol God. If Peter still doubted that God wanted Gentiles to be Christians, he was now sure. Peter said, Can any keep these people from
being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. (Acts 10:47) And Cornelius became the first Gentile convert. As was true when the first Jews accepted Christ, these believers became children of God by putting on Christ in baptism.
Peter Defends His Actions
When Peter arrived in Jerusalem he was asked by what right he had baptized Gentiles. He recounted his vision, the visit of the men from Cornelius, and the happenings at his home. He stated that he had no right to refuse those who had received the same gift they had some years before in Jerusalem. This convinced his critics and they said, So then, God has granted even the
Gentiles repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
The message of this story is clear. There is but one gospel for all men. And since God is not partial, neither dare we be. In Christ we cannot discriminate against others because we differ from them in race or culture without incurring our Savior’s displeasure.
Prejudices, however, are hard to overcome. Most Jewish Christians scattered as a result of persecution preached only to Jews. But there were some who courageously preached to the Greeks in Antioch. Great numbers in that city turned to the Lord. The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to encourage them, and he in turn brought Saul from Tarsus to help him. We are told,
So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts 11:26)
How appropriate that Jesus’ disciples should wear His name! This is the name that came to be applied to all followers of the Great Teacher. And we may add, it is the name that should be worn by all His disciples today—to the exclusion of all names of human origin designed to glorify men!
The early Christians cared for one another. When Agabus, a prophet, foretold a coming famine, the disciples in Antioch each personally contributed to the needs of the brethren in Judea, sending their contributions to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
Is Morality Enough?
Many believe that to be morally good is all that is required to go to heaven. This is indeed essential to salvation. But is it enough? Consider Cornelius. Where could you find a better example of moral excellence than in this Roman soldier? In Acts 10:2 we are told that he was
1. A religious man (devout).
2. A God fearing man (feared God with all his family).
3. A charitable man (gave alms liberally to the people).
4. A praying man (prayed to God regularly).
But he was lost! The angel of God told him that Peter would bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved. (Acts 11:14) If living a good moral life was enough to go to heaven, Cornelius would have made it. But the Bible teaches that There is no one righteous, not even one & for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:10, 23) Even though one’s life may be comparatively good, his moral efforts cannot atone for his impurity. Only through one’s acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ can one reach the eternal home.
6: “Paul s First Missionary Journey”
Read Acts 12:1 – 15:35
The growth of the church brought it into conflict with both the Jewish populace and the Roman authorities. King Herod, grandson of Herod the Great who had slain the children around Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus, arrested the Apostle James, brother of John. He killed him with the sword, probably beheading him. James was the first apostle to die, and the only one whose death is recorded in the New Testament.
When Herod saw that his action was politically popular, he also arrested Peter, probably intending to kill him as well. Four squads of soldiers, a total of sixteen men, were assigned to guard him on shifts. While awaiting the Passover when Herod planned to bring him before the people, he was chained between two soldiers while two others stood guard. Just before he was to be brought out, an angel appeared at night and told Peter to leave the prison. His chains fell from him and he walked unseen past the guards and through the iron gate of the city which opened of its own accord. Coming to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark, he found a prayer meeting on his behalf in progress. When the maid told the disciples that he was at the door they did not believe it until they saw him. After greeting them, Peter left to go into hiding until the crisis was over.
When Herod learned what had occurred he was so infuriated that he executed the guards. But King Herod himself did not have long to live. Soon afterwards he went to Caesarea and while there made an oration from his throne. When the people heard it they shouted, This is the voice of a god, not of a man! Rather than reject the undeserved flattery, he accepted it and for this reason was immediately smitten by God. The Jewish historian Josephus also tells us that he was stricken with a stomach disorder from which he suffered greatly before dying five days later. It is interesting to note how the biblical account agrees with this secular writer of the first century.
Paul and Barnabas Sent Out
Antioch of Syria was rapidly becoming a focal point for preaching the gospel. The church had some outstanding leaders, including Barnabas and Saul, who hereafter in the biblical narrative is known as Paul. At the urging of the Holy Spirit, the brethren decided to send Paul and Barnabas forth on a missionary journey which they did after a season of fasting and prayer.
Accompanying Paul and Barnabas as they sailed from Seleucia, the seaport for Antioch, was John Mark, cousin of Barnabas. They sailed westward to the island of Cyprus where at Salamis they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They crossed the island to Paphos and there encountered a false prophet, a magician, named Bar-Jesus. A showdown
followed in the presence of Sergius Paulus, the ruling proconsul, and in it Bar-Jesus was stricken blind, causing the proconsul to believe in Christ.
From Paphos they sailed to Asia Minor, the present day country of Turkey. At the seaport of Perga in Pamphylia John Mark left them to go back to Jerusalem, apparently afraid of the trials that lay ahead. His departing in the middle of the journey was later to be a point of contention between Paul and Barnabas.
Leaving Perga the two men traveled northward to Pisidian Antioch, not to be confused with the city of the same name in Syria. On the Sabbath they went into the Jewish synagogue where they would have an opportunity to tell those of their nationality of their faith in the Christ. After the reading of the law and the prophets, they were invited to speak and Paul used the occasion
to tell them about Jesus. He briefly related the history of Israel to the time of David from whom, he stated, Jesus had descended. He told how He had come to be the Savior of man, but that the Jews had crucified Him. And then he told them of the resurrection of his Lord and how He had been seen on various occasions by those who knew Him best. He continued,
Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38, 39)
This good news produced great hope among many of the Jews so that almost the entire city was assembled to hear the word of God the next Sabbath. However the popular response to the message was so great that the Jews became jealous, and Paul and Barnabas turned their efforts toward the Gentiles. It was Paul’s custom always to go to his fellow Jews first, but
The response among the non-Jews was gratifying and a congregation was established. But Jewish opposition became so intense that they found it wise to travel eastward to Iconium. Here again in the synagogue they proclaimed the word. The city was soon divided over their message, but before opposition caused them to leave they had founded another congregation.
Next on their itinerary was Lystra. Here Paul healed a man crippled from birth. The crowds were so astonished that they cried out, The gods have come down to us in human form! (Acts 14:11) They sought to worship Barnabas, whom they called Zeus (or Jupiter), and Paul, whom they thought was Hermes (or Mercury). The two tore their garments in an effort to dissuade them from offering sacrifice to them. But men are fickle, and when the Jewish enemies of Paul and Barnabas arrived from Antioch and Iconium, they stoned Paul, leaving him for dead. Fortunately he was not, and having again succeeded in planting a congregation, the two men went on to Derbe. Here too they preached the word, converted many, and established a church. They then retraced their steps through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, and appointed elders to shepherd the flock in each congregation. (Acts 14:23)
From Antioch of Pisidia the two went south to Perga where they preached the gospel before sailing for Antioch of Syria. Here they remained for some time, possibly two years, laboring with the disciples in that city.
The Jerusalem Conference
The conversion of the Gentiles provoked the first major doctrinal crisis in the body of Christ. The church in Antioch of Syria had a number of Gentiles in its membership. Some came from Jerusalem teaching these brethren, Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved. (Acts 15:1) Paul and Barnabas took strong issue with them
because the very nature of the Christian faith was at stake. Was it necessary, as the Jewish teachers affirmed, for one to become a Jew before he could become a Christian? Would this not make Christianity a “lean-to” attached to the structure of Judaism? Paul and Barnabas thought so.The Jerusalem Conference
Accordingly the Antioch church sent Paul, Barnabas, and some others to Jerusalem to lay the matter before the apostles and elders. They were warmly welcomed as they declared what God had accomplished through them. But there were dissenters who charged that it was necessary in teaching Gentiles to circumcise them and make them keep the law.
The apostles and elders met to consider the matter. Peter, recalling his experience when Cornelius was converted, expressed his conviction that it was wrong to make the Gentiles wear the yoke of the law of Moses. James, the brother of Jesus and an elder of the church, agreed, adding that the Gentile converts should be admonished to abstain from the pollution of idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood. The restrictions relating to eating things strangled and blood are the only dietary restrictions in The New Testament.
The judgement of Peter and James was endorsed by the church, and a letter expressing the thoughts was sent to Antioch by Paul and Barnabas, and two brethren from Jerusalem, Barsabbas and Silas. Silas was later a traveling companion of Paul. The letter was received with joy in Antioch, for now the Gentiles knew they were free in Christ — free from sin and free from the heavy obligations of the law of Moses. This did not end the problem, however. The book of Galatians, possibly addressed to the same churches Paul established on his first missionary journey, indicates that these teachers did considerable damage with their teaching. Paul wrote Galatians to counteract these efforts.
The Function of Elders
When Paul and Barnabas returned to the churches they had earlier established, they & appointed elders for them in every church. (Acts 14:23) They were called elders because they were spiritually more mature, but they were also known as bishops or overseers. (1 Timothy 3:1) As pastors (Ephesians 4:11) they were the shepherds who by example (1 Peter 5:3) and teaching (Titus 1:9) were able to guide the disciples in their spiritual development. Paul admonished the elders at Ephesus, Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
There is no biblical evidence of any higher human authority in the local church than that of its elders. Neither was there a hierarchy outside the congregation to direct its affairs. Although the New Testament uses “elder” and “bishop” interchangeably, we find that in the second century it became the practice to designate one of the elders as “the bishop.” From this deviation from the apostolic norm it was not long before the spiritual affairs of the congregation were under the control of a single bishop. In succeeding centuries a single bishop ruled all of the congregations in a single province. Eventually one man was designated as head of the universal church. It was thus by many short steps rather than one long one that the divine apostolic pattern of church government was changed.
“Paul s Second Tour”
Read Acts 15:36 – 18:22
New Churches Revisited
After Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from the Jerusalem conference regarding circumcision, they remained for a time working with the congregation. But they were concerned about the welfare of the young churches they had planted on their missionary journey five or six years earlier. Paul proposed to Barnabas that they revisit them. When Barnabas suggested taking his cousin John Mark along, Paul demurred because Mark had turned back on the earlier trip. Because they could not agree, they decided to go separately. Barnabas, taking Mark with him, went to Cyprus where he and Paul had earlier preached. The book of Acts says nothing further regarding his efforts. Paul chose Silas, a prophet from Jerusalem (Acts 15:22, 32) as his traveling companion. Mark later became a co-worker with Paul whom he describes as helpful to me in my ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11) Although Paul and Barnabas differed in judgement, we have no evidence that this remained a personal barrier.
Paul and Silas headed overland for the churches in Asia Minor planted on the first trip. Their journey took them through Syria and Cilicia where they preached among churches Paul had earlier established. (Galatians 1:21) From there they went to Derbe and Lystra. At Lystra they found a young disciple named Timothy, son of a Jewish mother and Greek father, who had possibly been converted by Paul on his former visit. Timothy joined Paul and Silas as they traveled westward, strengthening the churches which grew daily in numbers. Going through Phrygia and Galatia they considered going south into the province of Asia and north to Bithynia. But the Holy Spirit forbade them to go in either direction. Instead, Paul saw a vision of a man of Macedonia who implored, Come over to Macedonia and help us. (Acts 16:9)
Lydia Obeys Christ
At this point we know that Luke, the author of Acts, joined the party, as he now speaks of we instead of they. Heeding the divine injunction to go into Macedonia, the four men sailed for Macedonia from Troas, landing at Neapolis and bearing with them the gospel message which for the first time they were to preach on the continent of Europe. They were soon in Philippi,
ten miles away. This was a Roman city surrounded by a Greek population. As there was apparently no Jewish synagogue in the city, on a Sabbath day Paul and his companions went to the river where they found a group of Jewish women worshipping. Among them was Lydia, a businesswoman from Thyatira who sold expensive purple cloth. Paul taught the women God’s word, and Lydia gave heed to what Paul taught and was baptized with her household. (Acts 16:14, 15) Her home became headquarters for the four men as they continued for many days to preach the gospel in the city.
A Jailer Is Baptized
In Philippi there was a slave girl with a spirit of divination, apparently an evil spirit. By her fortune telling she made a handsome profit for her owners. From day to day she followed Paul and his companions crying out, These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved. (Acts 16:17) Her testimony, although true, suggested an alliance between the demons and the men of God. Sometimes it is harmful to be endorsed by the wrong person. Greatly annoyed, Paul cast out the spirit, and in so doing provoked the ire of her owners who realized they had lost their source of revenue. They dragged Paul and Silas into the market place before the rulers, charging them with advocating customs which Romans could not practice. The crowd attacked them and the magistrates beat them with rods and threw them into jail where they were placed in stocks in the inner prison.
Imagine how you would have felt in these circumstances! They were in a dark dungeon, suffering from a painful beating, with their feet torturously locked in clamps so that they could not possibly get comfortable. We would be depressed, but not Paul and Silas. Instead, at midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened and the jailer slept. Suddenly an earthquake rocked the prison. The doors opened and the fetters fell from the prisoners. The jailer awakened, saw the open doors, and presuming that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword to kill himself, acting upon the Roman code of honor which required suicide under these conditions.
But Paul cried out, Don t harm yourself! We are all here! The jailer fell down before the two men and cried out, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved– you and your household. (Acts 16:30,31) They taught him about Jesus, and the same hour of the night he washed their wounds, and was baptized into Christ with all his family.
Note that in response to virtually the same question on Pentecost Peter told his listeners to “Repent and be baptized” while on this occasion Paul instructed the jailer to “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” Why the difference? Peter’s audience already believed in Christ while the jailer did not. The answer given depended upon where the sinner was in his understanding. You will note, however, that the jailer did repent (he washed their stripes) and was baptized. So the teaching given in both cases was the same.
The next day the authorities instructed the jailer to release Paul and Silas. But Paul was not willing to let the matter drop at that. He and Silas were Roman citizens, and it was a crime to scourge a Roman without a trial. Were the accusers going to drop the charges as if nothing had happened? When the magistrates learned what they had done, they personally apologized to Paul and Silas and asked them to leave the city.
From Philippi they traveled 100 miles west to Thessalonica, while Luke remained at Philippi. For three weeks in the Jewish synagogue Paul taught the resurrection of Christ. He converted a large number, both Jews and Greeks, but his success provoked a riot in which a mob attacked the home of Jason where they had been staying. Their accusers cried, These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here (Acts 17:6)
Sixty miles to the west was Berea where Paul and Silas next taught in the synagogue. We are told that
the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
Preachers of the word ought always to allow their teachings to be compared by seekers of truth with the scriptures, and it is commendable when men will do so. Paul’s enemies from Thessalonica soon arrived to stir up the crowds, but not before he had planted another church. He left Silas and Timothy with the infant congregation and proceeded by sea to Athens, the seat of learning in the ancient world.
On Mars Hill
In Athens Paul found himself among a multitude of idols. He was soon disputing with the Jews and it was not long before the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers took him to the Areopagus (or Mars Hill) where men commonly expounded their views. Paul addressed himself to his heathen listeners with unparalleled wisdom. Rather than condemn them for their ignorance, he commended their religious nature, and then proceeded to tell them about the “unknown God” whom they worshipped in ignorance. He climaxed his message by proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. His sermon evoked indifference on the part of many, but some believed and a church may have resulted.
Paul next went to Corinth, the great and evil commercial city situated on the isthmus connecting the two parts of modern Greece. Here he stayed for a year and a half, making tents with Jewish Christians named Aquila and Priscilla. On the Sabbath he taught in the synagogue. He was soon joined by Silas and Timothy and together they had considerable success in preaching Jesus. The conversion of the Corinthians is recorded in this way:
Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)
Once more opposition came from the Jewish community. But this time when the charges were brought before Gallio, proconsul of the province, he threw the case out of court. Instead, Sosthenes, who had apparently brought the charge, was beaten before the tribunal.
Having firmly established a congregation in Corinth, Paul, with Aquila and Priscilla, sailed for Syria, stopping briefly at Ephesus enroute. Landing at Caesarea he briefly visited the church before returning to Antioch from which he had begun his journey about three years before.
What It Means to Believe
Because Paul told the jailer, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, some have concluded that man is saved by faith alone. That this is not true is demonstrated by the only use of this phrase in the New Testament, You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)
There are two kinds of faith. One is historical faith which simply accepts as true statements of fact such as Washington being the first president of the United States. This is the faith of the demons of which James writes, Even the demons believe that — and shudder. (James 2:19) If this kind of faith could save, it would save even Satan who recognizes the deity of Christ.
The kind of faith that saves is trust. One who trusts Christ will do anything he asks of him. Paul speaks of the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5; 16:26) If we trust Jesus we will obey Him, and if we stop short of obedience we will not be saved because we have the wrong kind of faith. Saving faith, then, includes the whole of obedience. When Paul told the jailer to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved, he was including repentance and baptism. It is interesting to note that after the jailer completed his obedience in these things that &he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God — he and his whole family. (Acts16:34) Had he not obeyed, he would neither have truly believed nor been saved.
8: “Paul s Third Journey”
Read Acts 18:23 – 21:16
The Ephesians Converted
Paul ended his second journey where it had begun at Antioch of Syria. He remained there briefly before beginning in AD 54 his third missionary journey which was to last four years. He again traveled westward through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the churches he had previously established. Doubtless the congregations in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia were among them.
In the meantime an event occurred at Ephesus where Paul had briefly visited at the end of his second journey and where he had left Priscilla and Aquila, his companions in travel. A Jewish preacher named Apollos, a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, was teaching in the Jewish synagogue. He accurately taught about Jesus, but knew only the
baptism of John the Baptist. Priscilla and Aquila found him and taught him the way of God more accurately. He shortly left for Corinth where he was destined to become a powerful force in teaching the Word.
Soon thereafter Paul arrived in Ephesus, true to his earlier promise to the Jews that he would return. He found a group of a dozen disciples who knew only the baptism of John and who had probably been taught by Apollos. When Paul discovered that they knew nothing about the Holy Spirit, he inquired and learned that they had been baptized by John’s baptism instead of the baptism of Christ. When he had taught them more fully, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, after which Paul laid his hands on them so that they might receive certain spiritual gifts.
Why did Paul rebaptize these Ephesians? It would appear that they had been baptized in John’s baptism after the church was established when John’s baptism was no longer valid. At any rate, Paul baptized them because their previous baptism was invalid. It is possible for one to be biblically baptized only once, so in that sense these men were not rebaptized as their earlier baptism did not count. If a person has not been baptized in accordance with the Bible, his baptism is not valid and he should be
baptized in conformity with the divine plan. Several things may invalidate a person’s earlier baptism:
<1) the wrong subject (one who does not believe such as an infant);
(2) the wrong purpose (not for the forgiveness of sins);
(3) the wrong action (not immersion).
If it was necessary for the twelve Ephesians to be baptized again because their previous baptism was imperfect, we ought to seriously consider whether our baptism conforms to what Christ requires.
Paul stayed three years in Ephesus preaching the gospel. For three months he taught in the synagogue, but when some of the Jews spoke evil of the Way, he began teaching in the school of Tyrannus. For two years this continued so “that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Probably Paul journeyed to neighboring cities to proclaim Christ, although this is not specifically stated. It would also appear from Paul’s writing to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 13:2) that
he visited Corinth during his three year stay in Ephesus. This is not mentioned in Acts.
Paul worked miracles while in Ephesus. When seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, tried casting out an evil spirit in the name of Jesus, the man in whom the spirit was leaped on them and overpowered them. All of Ephesus was amazed at the power of God, so much so that a number of magicians brought together their books of sorcery worth about $50,000 and burned them in a great bonfire.
Riot in Ephesus
Paul now made plans to again visit the churches he had established in Macedonia and Achaia on his second journey, intending afterwards to return to Jerusalem. He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, on ahead, while he remained in Ephesus a little longer.
About this time a riot erupted because of Paul’s preaching. In Ephesus was the great temple of Diana (or Artemis as the word is in the original language). It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, being 425 feet long and 120 feet wide with sixty foot high white marble columns spaced four feet apart. The city’s inhabitants were worshippers of Diana and the city silversmiths did a good business in making shrines for the goddess. But Paul’s teaching turned many away from idolatry and in so doing hit the craftsmen in the pocketbook. Led by a silversmith named Demetrius, a protest meeting was called about Paul’s teaching. It was soon out of control, two of Paul’s companions were dragged into the theater where the meeting was being held, and for two hours the mob chanted, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! The crowd was finally dispersed by the town clerk who pointed out that Paul and his companions had not broken the law, and if the silversmiths had any charges, the courts
were open to them.
Paul soon left to visit the Macedonian churches. After a stay there he went into Greece for three months, probably making Corinth his headquarters. In Macedonia and Greece he collected an offering from the churches to take with him to Jerusalem for distribution among the poor Judean Christians. Besides alleviating the poverty among these needy people, this was also a way in which the Gentile churches could express their love for the Jewish Christians who received their gift, and in this way help to break down the wall of prejudice between Jew and Gentile.
The First Day Assembly
Paul retraced his steps through Macedonia, taking with him seven brethren to carry the contribution to Jerusalem. In Philippi Luke joined them as they sailed across the Aegean Sea to Asia Minor where they landed at Troas. Luke tells us, On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. (Acts 20:7)
The purpose of the assembly was worship with the observance of the Lord’s supper being the primary reason for their assembly. The context indicates that this was their customary practice each Lord’s day.
Since Paul preached until midnight, we presume they began their worship in the evening. Did they assemble on Saturday night (according to Jewish time) or Sunday night (according to Roman time)? The record does not say. The important thing is that their worship was on the first day in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus, not the Jewish Sabbath. This is unmistakable evidence that Christians should worship on the first day of the week rather than the seventh.
Paul preached so long that a young man named Eutychus fell asleep and fell from the third floor window in the hall where they were worshipping. He was dead when he was taken up, but Paul embraced him and restored his life. Themeeting continued until daybreak when the party left to resume its trip to Jerusalem.
Paul Charges the Elders
The ship laid over briefly in Miletus, the seaport for Ephesus, thirty miles away. Paul sent for the Ephesian elders so that he might charge them regarding their spiritual responsibilities as overseers of the flock. He recounted his trials and tears while among them, and instructed them to
Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
He then warned them not to allow the church to be torn apart by false teachers who would come among them.
From Miletus they sailed to Patara on the south coast of Asia Minor where they changed to a ship destined for Tyre, one hundred miles north of Jerusalem. After a week with the Christians there, they resumed their voyage, stopping for a day with the church at Ptolemais before reaching Caesarea where they stayed with Philip, the evangelist, who years before had converted the Samaritans and the Ethiopian eunuch.
The prophet Agabus came from Judea, and binding his hands and feet with Paul’s girdle said,
The Holy Spirit says, In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt
and will hand him over to the Gentiles. (Acts 21:11)
The Christians in Caesarea and Paul’s companions begged him not to continue to Jerusalem. But Paul replied,
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound but also to die
in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 21:13)
When they saw that they could not deter him they said, The Lord s will be done. So Paul left for Jerusalem, knowing that there he would be arrested for the name which he cherished.
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. (Acts 19:23) No less than six times in Acts is the church called THE WAY. Jesus taught the disciples, I am the way (John 14:6) Therefore the early Christians conceived of Christianity as THE WAY of living; of the church as THE WAY of fellowship; and of the teachings of Jesus as THE ONLY WAY to eternal life.
The Lord’s Supper
The expression break bread as used in Acts 20:7 is found several times in the scriptures. Sometimes it refers to the eating of a common meal, but on other occasions it undoubtedly applies to what Paul calls the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:20) or the participation in the blood and body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). It is used in this sense in Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians
10:16, and 1 Corinthians 11:24. The meeting in Troas was obviously a religious gathering and the breaking of bread must have been their observance of the Lord’s supper.
The supper was instituted by Jesus on the night of his betrayal (Matt. 26:26 – 29) as a memorial to His death and suffering. In giving them bread as a symbol of his body and fruit of the vine (grape) as a representation of his blood, he commanded the disciples, &do this in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24) As the Christian partakes of it he should focus his mind
on his crucified Lord, remembering how he made the supreme sacrifice for us.
Every indication is that in the apostolic church the communion was observed every first day of the week. The meeting in Troas so implies. Justin Martyr, writing about fifty years after the death of John, describes the worship of the church and tells us how the Lord’s supper was observed every Sunday. If we seek to reproduce the apostolic worship, we must “break bread” every Lord’s day.
Read Acts 21:17 – 24:27
Attacked by a Mob
When Paul arrived in Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey, he was warmly received by the church as he related the wonderful work among the Gentiles. Furthermore, he was bearing a gift from those Christians to the disciples in Judea that their material needs might be alleviated.
There was, however, a problem. There was a report that Paul was teaching Jewish Christians to forsake Moses and Jewish customs. While the Jerusalem elders were aware that the law of Moses should not be bound upon the Gentiles, they were concerned that Paul’s visit would stir up the Judaizing element in the church which did not yet understand that the law of Moses has been removed by the cross of Christ. They, therefore, persuaded Paul to pay the expenses of four men then taking the vow as prescribed by the law of Moses. They reasoned that in this way Paul would demonstrate that he was not trying to destroy the Jewish institutions and customs.
Perhaps the best explanation of Paul’s agreeing to this procedure is found in his statement to the Corinthians,
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. (1 Corinthians 9:20)
Before the week was over some Jews from Asia who knew Paul stirred up the crowd by accusing him of teaching men to break the law and of taking Trophimus, a Gentile, into the temple. The charges were untrue, but the mob dragged Paul from the temple, trying to kill him. He was rescued by Claudius Lysias, the Roman tribune who was over 1000 soldiers. Paul asked
him if he might speak to the people. The tribune was surprised that he spoke Greek because he had presumed him to be an Egyptian who had led an insurrection of 4000 men. When Paul stated that he was a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, he was given permission to address the crowd.
In his defense Paul related his former life as a strict adherent to the law of Moses. He told of his conversion, and how he had been baptized into Christ to wash away his sins. He showed how Jesus had sent him forth to bear the gospel to the Gentiles. When he mentioned Gentiles the mob would no longer keep quiet. The tribune ordered him taken into the barracks and scourged in order to extract a confession of crime from him. But when Paul called attention to his Roman citizenship, the tribune relented for it was a serious matter to beat an unconvicted Roman citizen. He, therefore, unbound him and ordered that he be taken before the Jewish council for examination.
Before the Council
Paul began his defense, My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day. (Acts 23:1) This is a remarkable statement for anyone to make, but everything in Paul’s life points toward his always having lived according to what he thought was right. It also demonstrates that the conscience is not always a safe guide since this was the same man
who had previously persecuted Christians to their death. The conscience must be correctly educated and this can come only from study of the word of God.
Paul’s declaration provoked the high priest, Ananias, to order him struck on the mouth. This was in defiance of the law which he was supposed to be upholding, and caused a verbal exchange between the high priest and Paul.
As Paul viewed the Sanhedrin before which he stood, he realized that it was divided between Pharisees and Sadducees. The former believed in the resurrection, angels, and spirits, while the latter denied all of these. Before his conversion Paul had been a Pharisee, and with respect to his views on these matters he still was. Sensing the division in his accusers, he declared his views on the resurrection, and stated that it was for his convictions on this subject that he was on trial. While it was true that
other matters were immediately responsible for his arrest, yet his repeated declaration relating to the resurrection of Jesus was one of the most basic reasons for which his enemies attacked him.
Paul had assessed the council correctly. The Pharisees sided with Paul because of his views on the resurrection and favored dropping the charges. A riot ensued, and the tribune, fearing for Paul’s safety, ordered him forcibly removed from the assembly by the soldiers.
Paul’s Life Is Threatened
The next night the Lord appeared to Paul telling him to be courageous because he would witness for Christ in Rome. Eventually Paul was allowed to testify of his faith before the emperor.
The uproar before the Sanhedrin was not designed to cool things off. A band of more than forty Jews conspired to kill Paul, vowing that they would not eat until they had fulfilled their objective. Paul’s nephew heard about the plot in which they planned to waylay Paul as he was being brought before the council. He informed Paul of the conspiracy, and the apostle instructed the
young man to tell his story to the tribune. When the tribune learned of the scheme he moved Paul to Caesarea in the dead of night with two hundred spearmen to protect him. He sent along a letter to Felix the governor into whose custody he was delivering him. The letter was factually accurate except that he claimed he had originally rescued Paul from the mob because
he was a Roman citizen when in fact he had learned about it later. But on the whole the actions and attitudes of Claudius Lysias were commendable. Without his concern for the enforcement of the law Paul might have been killed.
Felix the Governor
The man whom Paul now faced was Felix, governor of Judea for six years. He was acquainted with the Christian faith and had done much to pacify the countryside which had been beset by robbers and assassins. But Felix was also a very evil man. A former slave, he had been elevated from that position to governor. In his personal life he was little better than a beast. The Roman historian Tacitus said of him that with every kind of cruelty and lust, he exercised the authority of a king with the temper of a slave. He had even stolen Drusilla, wife of the king of Emesa and daughter of the Herod who had murdered the apostle James, and married her.
The Jews hired a Roman lawyer, Tertullus, to present to Felix their case against Paul. After commending the governor for service to the nation, he charged Paul with being an agitator of the Jews, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, and of trying to profane the temple.
Paul responded by saying that he was not guilty of trying to stir up an insurrection since it was then only twelve days since he went to Jerusalem and some of those he had spent in jail. The charge of being a ringleader of the Nazarenes (as Christians were derisively called because Jesus had come from Nazareth) was unsupported without the testimony of the Jews from Asia who had made the accusation. As for profaning the temple he noted that the Jewish leaders who had examined him on the matter were not present to testify of any wrongdoing on his part. Then he focused the attention of all on what he considered to be the real issue — his teaching relative to the resurrection of the dead.
Felix deferred judgment until the tribune, Claudius Lysias, should arrive to testify in the matter. In the meantime he kept Paul in detention while allowing him considerable liberty. Sometime later Felix, in the company of Drusilla, again called Paul before him. This was Paul’s prime opportunity to plead for his release. Instead he reasoned with Felix regarding justice, self-control, and future judgement. To a man for whom justice meant little and who had abandoned self-control in a profligate life, mention of future judgement could only cause great alarm. The governor was terrified, but instead of repenting he postponed the matter saying,
That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you. (Acts 24:25)
The character of Felix becomes evident when we learn that he kept Paul in prison because he hoped for a bribe. But the bribe was not offered and for two years the apostle to the Gentiles remained in prison in Caesarea until Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.
Summing Up the Conversions
In our study of Acts we have found nine accounts of how sinners came to Christ. By carefully studying them we can determine how we too can become Christians.
Should you wish to restudy these examples they are the 3000 on Pentecost (Acts 2), the Samaritans (Acts 8), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), Saul (Acts 9, 22, 26), Cornelius (Acts 10, 11), Lydia (Acts 16), the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), the Corinthians (Acts 18), and the Ephesians (Acts 19).
Note that in each case the word of God was first preached. Men were told of the divine love and grace by which Christ was sent to earth to live and die for us. They were told how Jesus shed His blood on the cross to secure forgiveness and how God raised Him triumphantly from the dead.
But these accounts also inform us how these people accepted this freely offered grace. Although Christ died for all, our salvation is conditioned upon our acceptance of the gift of God. And what is this acceptance? In all nine examples it is stated or implied that those accepting Jesus first believed in Him. Thus they had to be old enough to understand their actions and could not have been infants. In two instances (the 3000 on Pentecost, Acts 2:38, and Cornelius, Acts 11:18) repentance is mentioned while in other cases, such as the jailer, it is clearly implied. In all nine examples those accepting Christ were baptized. The purpose of baptism was the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), and the action of baptism was immersion (Acts 8:38, 39).
Thus, when sinners obeyed their Lord in the way described they reached the blood of Christ which takes away our sins. There is no other command nor example in the New Testament describing a different way of coming to Christ.
“A Prisoner for Christ”
Read Acts Chapters 25 – 28
Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before & kings & (Acts 9:15) So spoke the Lord to Ananias as He sent him to Saul of Tarsus with the words of life. And now, as he languished in Caesarea in prison, the Apostle Paul was about to appear before a king. For two years Paul had been incarcerated by the governor Felix who was replaced by Porcius Festus who knew little about the charges against Paul or the cause he represented.
With the change of administration the Jewish leaders sensed a new opportunity to kill Paul so they asked Festus to bring him to Jerusalem, intending to ambush him en route. Instead Festus told them to make their charges in Caesarea. A few days later they did so, but offered no supporting evidence. Paul was given an opportunity to defend himself, but when it appeared that Festus was about to yield to Jewish pressure and send him to Jerusalem for examination, Paul invoked a seldom used right of a
Roman citizen — that of appealing to the emperor. This had the immediate effect of stopping all other proceedings. The governor was now obligated to send the prisoner to Caesar in Rome with military escort, and to specify the charges against him. Unfortunately he had nothing with which to accuse him.
A few days later Festus had visitors that he felt might help him in formulating the charges. Coming to welcome him to the area was King Agrippa of Chalcis, a small district east of the Jordan, and his widowed sister, Bernice. Agrippa was only thirty-one years old and exercised his authority under the emperor. He was the son of the Herod who had murdered the Apostle James, and the great-grandson of Herod the Great who had slain the infant children around Bethlehem in an effort to kill the baby Jesus. Unlike Festus he was thoroughly acquainted with the claims of the Christ and His followers. Therefore when Festus sought his help, Agrippa welcomed the opportunity to hear the apostle firsthand.Paul Relives His Life
Amidst great pomp Paul was brought before the royal assemblage. After Festus stated his predicament, Paul was given his opportunity to speak to the king. As Agrippa had been brought up in the Jewish faith, he was familiar with the customs and controversies among them, especially as they related to the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead.
Once more Paul retold the story of his life. He related how he had been raised as a Pharisee, and how, when the Christian faith appeared on the scene, he had become a militant persecutor of the new religion. He described his experience on the Damascus road where he was stricken blind by a light from heaven, and how he had been converted to Christ. And he relived the story of his proclamation of the message of Christ to the Gentiles, concluding with his arrest by the Jews, when in fact his only crime was that of preaching that the Messiah had risen from the dead.
At that point Festus cried out, You are out of your mind, Paul. But Agrippa knew Paul was not mad as Paul now declared,The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. (Acts 26:26)
He then said,
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do. Agrippa responded, Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian? (Acts 26:27,28)
Paul’s response indicates that he understood Agrippa to be sincere rather than sarcastic as he avows,
Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains. (Acts 26:29)
When the assembly was over Agrippa and Festus agreed that had Paul not appealed to Caesar he could have been set free. But the die was cast, and it was the divine intent that this mightiest of all proclaimers of the truth should one day stand before the emperor.
Shipwrecked at Sea
The prisoner of Christ Jesus as Paul so aptly describes himself (Ephesians 3:1) was to sail half the length of the Mediterranean Sea on his voyage to the capital city. In his company was Luke, author of our book, who describes the voyage in minute detail. Paul was delivered into the custody of Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Cohort. Leaving Caesarea their ship sailed northward along the coast, touching Sidon before passing on the east end of the island of Cyprus on their way to Myra in Lycia where they changed to a ship sailing to Italy. The wind was against them as they sailed toward Crete in the middle of the Mediterranean. When they finally reached the island they had difficulty in finding a place to anchor. Against the advice of Paul the centurion decided to go on. It was a mistake. A terrific storm caught them at sea and they threw everything possible overboard to lighten the ship. For fourteen days they were tossed on the sea, not knowing where they were.
Once more Paul gave his counsel, informing them all that an angel had told him that all would be saved and cast on some island. This time they believed him, and when they drew near land, they anchored and waited for dawn. The sailors, thinking only of themselves, sought to escape, but were foiled by the soldiers who cut away the lifeboat. However, when the captain attempted to maneuver the ship into land, it ran aground and the stern was broken by the surf. Each man went overboard and swam for land in the best way he could so that all reached the beach safely.
On to Rome
The island on which they found themselves was Malta off the southern tip of Sicily. The shipwrecked crew and passengers were taken in by the natives. When Paul shook off a viper that came out of a fire without ill effects, the people were convinced that the apostle was a god. And when he healed the father of Publius, the local chieftain, they brought to him their sick to be cured. Three months later Paul and his company again set sail, stopping briefly at Syracuse in Sicily before sailing to Italy. Shortly thereafter they landed at Puteoli, a hundred miles southeast of Rome. Here they stayed with fellow Christians for a week before proceeding to the capital. Word of their arrival had reached the disciples in Rome and some of them came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet them.
Once in Rome Paul called together the Jewish leaders to tell them of the controversy that had provoked his arrest. After he told them why he had appealed to Caesar, they responded,
We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who
have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect. (Acts 28:21, 22)
The open-mindedness of these Roman Jews was commendable. Although they acknowledged that all of their prior information was such as to prejudice them against Christians, they were willing to listen to the other side before drawing their conclusions. What a need today for such honesty in searching for truth! Truth cannot be found until we divest our minds of those prejudices and preconceptions that stand in its way. Our search for spiritual truth must cause us to cast aside these things as we read the Bible to determine God’s will. Paul met again with the Jews, but unfortunately they disagreed among themselves and it is apparent that most of them did not accept his message.
For two years Paul remained a prisoner in Rome, being allowed his own lodging and the opportunity to testify of his faith to all who might come to him. At this point in time Luke closes his narrative, probably because it brought him to the time of his writing.
Although Acts concludes at this point we do have additional information available regarding Paul’s life thereafter. It appears that during his imprisonment he wrote Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. He converted a runaway slave, Onesimus, and sent him back to his Christian master, Philemon. He preached the gospel to his guards and through them the word of God apparently found its way into the palace as he speaks of those of Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:22) It appears that he was tried and released, and that he returned to again preach the word in Ephesus, Macedonia, and Crete. He was again arrested, and from his prison cell penned his letters to Timothy and Titus. Eusebius relates the tradition that after his second trial Paul died in Rome as a martyr for Christ. There seems no good reason to question this. The great apostle victoriously concludes in his last epistle, For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day– and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Truly, if we follow him as he in turn followed Christ we will one day enjoy his fellowship in the eternal home.
I learned the above from WBS, all glory goes to the Lord Almighty