Due to a whole bunch of sickness in our home in December I did not blog nearly as much as I had planned. To catch up a little I’m going to combine bigger sections of Acts for my posts over the next few weeks. In case you missed my first What I’m Learning in the Bible post I am sharing what I am learning as our church studies through the book of Acts together over the next few months.
As a reminder, I am using this ESV Acts Study journal. Basically it has scripture on one page and then a blank lined page next to it for taking notes.
I remember when I read this through I was just struck by how soundly Peter was sleeping in the prison. He was in prison, in chains, an angel appears with light and the angel has to hit Peter on the side to wake him up (v. 7). I sleep very lightly so I’m just impressed by how soundly he was sleeping. He could have simply been exhausted from everything going on, he could have been at peace, we don’t really know but it’s clear he was sleeping soundly.
After Herod’s death we read in Acts 13:24 “But the word of God increased and multiplied.” I love how throughout Acts we get these little updates on how the church is growing just like in Acts 6:7- ‘And the word of God continued to increase…”
It’s interesting that what Paul preaches in Antioch is super similar to what Stephen preached right before he was stoned in Acts 7, basically an overview of the Old Testament, show the need for Jesus and how He fulfilled the prophecies. Paul was there at Stephen’s stoning, approving of it (Acts 7:58-8:1) and now he preaches the same message.
After some healing a man I like how Barnabus and Paul clearly tell the people that there is nothing special about them.
Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.Acts 14:15
The book of Acts makes it clear over and over that the Gospel is for everyone. The disciples were ordinary men. Christians are ordinary people. All that the disciples had was given to them by God, through the Holy Spirit. Salvation, spiritual gifts, everything that we have is a gift from God. And it’s for everyone. For all of us ordinary people.
The debate comes up about whether or not gentiles need to be circumcised. I love what Peter says here.
…”Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to use, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”Acts 15:7-11
I love the clarity here that salvation is through the grace of Jesus, not through anything else.
Paul and Barnabus have separated and now Timothy comes along with Paul in addition to Silas. I love that we get another little update on the progress of the church in verse 5: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.”
Have any thoughts to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!