The book of Acts is the one bible book detailing the beginnings of the Christian Church right after the gospels of Jesus Christ.
1:12-26 After the ascension of Jesus to Heaven the disciples regrouped and select Matthias to replace Judas. In the 2nd Chapter of Acts the initial filling of the Holy Spirit is detailed. It was like flaming tongues and Heads of Fire where they were all speaking in languages other than there own. Peter then preached to the people the gospel message of Jesus Christ and about 3,000 that day believed.
This of course was the beginning of the new church which was met with great resistance from the established religous community that bristled at the name of Jesus. But the message could not be contained. The disciples went out preaching the good news which resulted in them being beaten, and in and out of jail. 4:1-3 You might say for INCITING A REVIVAL.
The early church community united together to share all things by selling property and doing all it could to move forward the preaching of the gospel message. But in chapter 5 there was the recording of Annaias and Sapphira who lied about the price they recieved for the land they sold and were struck dead by the Lord. Their sin I believe was their lying about keeping some money for themselves.
It was a dangerous time for those preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and where persecution could resut in a beating, or even in the case of Stephen who was stoned for not backing down.
Of course a great irony not lost on the Lord was Saul the Pharisee was present at the stoning of Stephen. God would choose this Christian hating Pharisee to be the first great missionary of the church. No longer will the message be for only the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. It was always about the Message and not about the Messanger.
In between Saul checking coats at the stoning of Stephen and being stopped on the Damascus road there is the story in 8:9 where Phillip preached and the good news and even Simon the Magician came to believe. Much better than pulling a rabbit out of a hat was the life changing gosple message share by Phillip.
SAUL/PAUL is introduced..In chapter 9, Jesus hating Saul of Tarsus is on the road to Damascus breathing out murderous threats v.1 when Jesus stops him dead in his tracks with a bright light from Heaven.
Like being stopped by the very first Traffic Light Jesus has Saul's atttention, and Saul blinded is led to Damascus to the home of Aninias (not the dead guy obviously from chapter 5) where he is healed from his blindness as something like scales fell from Saul's eyes as he was filled with the Holy Spirit. 9:18
Of course Saul being the hater of Christians to claiming to be a new believer was not an easy story to swallow. But with the encouragment of Barnabas in time Saul's joining the 'home team' proved to be true. Of course switching teams was not well received (much like Brett Favre joining the Vikings) and the Jews plotted to kill him. So the fellow believers snuck him out by night. 9:21-25
This all happened while Simon continued to work on his TAN?
In chapter 11 the story of Cornelius calling for Peter is told, and Peter has the vision where it is clear to him the message of the gospel is for all people and not just the Jews... even Baptists 11:1-18
In chapter 12 King Herrod in a show of power arrested many and put many to death, and Peter was one of those included in being arrested. Herrod planning on bringing him to trial after the Passover.. BUT.. the church prayed earnestly. Suddenly that night an angel appears to Peter and is freed from being chained between 2 sentries. 12:8 Move over Steve McQueen.. it's Peter in the GREAT ESCAPE.
After escaping the prison the angel left him and Peter found his way back to the house of Mary (mother of John) where many were praying for him. Peter knocks on the door, but a young woman named Rhoda recognizes Peter's voice but goes back without opening the door (musta been a blonde moment). At first they did not believe it was really Peter. Sort of a bizarre 1st century church knock knock joke.
Herod did not take the escape of Peter well, and ordered the execution of his guards, but just a short time later in 12:21-23 he is stricken by an angel of the Lord and is stricken down and eaten by worms and dies. MARK ONE FOR THE GOOD GUYS.
Chapter 12 concludes with Barnabas and Saul finishing their mission trip and returning to Jerusalem. Chapter 13 continues with Saul and Barnabas in Cyprus where they encounter a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus (also known as Elymas). Saul who was now called Paul looked right at this false prophet calling him a child of the devil, and blinded him by the power of the Lord for a time.
Chapter 14 Paul and Barnabas continue to preach in the synagogues causing a great divide among the people as some sided with the Jews and wanted to hurt them despite performing many powers and wonders. In Lystra they encounter a man who had been lame from birth and healed him. Those who witnessed this believed they must be gods. Paul they decided was Hermes, and Barnabas must be Zeus. They tried to convince the crowd they were not gods, and the Jews then again stirred up the crowd and they stoned them. Thinking Paul was dead they dragged his body outside the city limits. The disciples then went to him and he recovered.
This did not discourage them as the very next day they returned to the city and continued to preach to the people and many more became disciples of the Way.
( Acts 15:29 Desperate Animals take desperate measures )
Ironically now (at least to me) just past the middle of the book of Acts we encounter the first CHURCH SPLIT 15:36-41. It was not over using guitars instead of a church organ for church worship. Not because it was decided hymnals would be replaced by overhead projections. It was not even due to a church board vote denying the pastor his own reserved parking spot in the church parking lot. Instead the split was regarding how the first century church would proceed. Barnabas wanted to use John as they continued with their ministry, but Paul believed this was too risky as John had let them down in the past. But they prayed together, wept together and went their separate ways with Barnabas continuing with John, and Paul continuing with Silas.
So onward and forward the church movement marches and then Paul and Silas find themselves BACK IN JAIL for preaching in public AGAIN. When will they ever learn? Thank God the answer to that question is.. NEVER as the preaching the truth was more important than any persecution they would endure. I can't imagine as the closet thing I come to persecutinon is our public schools celebrate Winter Holiday versus what it has always been.. Christmas,
16:25 So anyways in jail after being whipped and beaten they break into singing praises to God. I would like to think I would do the same thing, but sincerly doubt I would. Paul and Silas were loud, and rejoicing and as Elvis Presley explained in his Musical ExoJesus of this passage.. You should've heard those knocked out jailbirds sing..Lets rock, everybody, lets rock. Everybody in the whole cell block Was dancin to the jailhouse rock.
16:25-28 Then an EARTHQUAKE shook the jail opening all the locked cells. The jailer was about to panic and kill himself until he was comforted by Paul with the words.. "we are all here". The Jailer then asked what must I do to be saved? and Paul is clear and simple in presenting the gospel message.. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." no more, no less.
17:22 Paul performs ALTAR ALTERATIONS 18:1-3 Welcome to my KOA 19:13-16 SONS OF SCENA casting out demons.. yea right!! 19:23-41 DEMETRIUS and the Silversmith Union 20:9-12 EUTYCHUS falls.. OUCH!! Other Eutychus inspired toons.. FLYS and WUMP and SLEEPING IN CHURCH COLLECTION
21:27-36 Paul is arrested, and hauled away from the MURDEROUS MOB 22:22-23 Holy TANTRUMS batman!! 23 - KILL PAUL FAST.. FAST
23:11 MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?? 26:28 Paul persuading AGRIPPA
27 Paul SAILS FOR ROME , 27:39-44 Paul is SHIPWRECKED , 28:1-6 Paul is SNAKE BIT!!