223 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 2 - Part 3 - Book 19 - Saul Changes to Paul

223: Saul Changes to Paul – Lesson 2 Part 3 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 19

SAUL CHANGES TO PAUL

Let’s go right back into the Book of Acts and carry on our study of this Book of transition. I told you when were back in Chapter 10 that Peter by a Sovereign God was sent up to the house of Cornelius, a pagan Gentile. We know that God had more in mind than that little group of people in Caesarea. God had in mind the whole sphere of Christianity. And now in Acts Chapter 15, we also see the other reason for using Peter to minister to this Gentile. And I have told you before that Acts 15 is a parallel chapter to Galatians Chapter 2. Paul has now been out among the Gentiles for several years, establishing the churches up there in Asia Minor, and especially in Antioch. The believing Jews at Jerusalem are still not accepting that. They were still Law-keeping, and they still had that mentality that nobody should be going to the Gentiles unless The King and Kingdom had been established here on the earth. They were really having a problem with this.

Acts 15:1

“AND certain men (these were believing Jews from Jerusalem) which came down from Judaea taught the brethren (at Antioch), and said, `Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses (what?), ye cannot be saved.'”

Do you see that? This is now 51 A.D. That’s 23 years after Pentecost, and these believing Jews are still telling the Gentiles up there at Antioch that they cannot be saved unless they keep the Mosaic Law, and circumcision. Now verse 2:

Acts 15:2

“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation (Paul and Barnabas had to just literally dig in and tell these fellows that they were wrong, and they couldn’t put circumcision and legalism on these Gentiles believers) with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”

So Paul and Barnabas had to go with them to Jerusalem to settle the question. They met with the Twelve and the elders of the believing element of what we call the Jewish Church at Jerusalem.

Acts 15:3-5

“And being brought on their way by the church (that is the congregation at Antioch), they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church (the believing Jews), and of the apostles and elders (that would be the Twelve), and they declared all things that God had done with them.” That is among the Gentiles.

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees (this was not the “whited sepulchre” Pharisees that Jesus had to deal with, but rather) which believed (they had believed that Jesus was The Christ. They were members of that Jerusalem Church), saying, `That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.'”

That’s what it says. Not just in my Bible, but it says it in your also. And this remember is 22 years after Pentecost, so time has been going by. Paul has been out among the Gentiles since 40 A.D. That’s after his three years down in Arabia, so for 12 years Paul has been laboring among the Gentiles Now verse 6:

Acts 15:6,7

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.”

“And when there had been much disputing (I don’t know how long this had been going on, but I think for several hours, they just couldn’t come to an agreement. Paul and Barnabas weren’t buying into circumcision and keeping the Law for their Gentile converts and finally), Peter rose up,…”

I think for most of this dissension and discussion they were on their feet. While this is going on, I can picture Peter sitting down off to the side. Maybe even sulking a little bit, because you have to understand that by now Peter has lost his role as the head honcho. He’s not even the moderator of this meeting. James, the half brother of Jesus is the moderator, and he wasn’t even one of the Twelve. And all this just shows how this Jewish system was slipping and we will see it finally just slips off the scene. In fact this Chapter is the last that is mentioned of Peter and the Twelve, until Peter writes his little epistle just before he is martyred in about 67 A.D. And you know that in 70 A.D. the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed and the Jews were sent into dispersion to every land. The Jewish program was slipping through the cracks, and the sad thing is they didn’t know it. You can pick this up so graphically in Galatians Chapter 2 But now back to verse 7. Finally Peter takes the floor.

Acts 15:7,8

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, `Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago (how long ago? Thirteen years since he had gone to Cornelius’ house) God made choice among us (the Twelve), that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;'”

Remember last lesson when the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his household? And this was before they were even baptized with water. This is what Peter is referring to in verse 8. Now verse 9:

Acts 15:9,10

“And put no difference between us (as Jews) and them (as Gentiles), purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples (up there at Antioch), which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

What’s Peter saying? Even Israel couldn’t handle the Law. The Law was so severe, it was a yoke, it was bondage, and so Peter said don’t put something on them that we couldn’t comprehend.

Acts 15:11,12

“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they (now verse 12, here’s the secret to the whole thing). Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”

Now let’s go to Galatians Chapter 2, and see what Paul says about this situation. It’s the same event we have just read about. And here is how you figure out the chronology on some of these things.

Galatians 2:1-3

“THEN fourteen years (he had just been rehearsing his apostleship and how he was commissioned on the road to Damascus, and we have placed that event at 37 A.D., and 14 years after that event you get 51 A.D., the disputing in Jerusalem) after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.”

“And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel (do you see how he identifies his Gospel?) which I preach among the Gentiles (see how he’s differentiating?), but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run in vain.” Now come all the way down to verse 5:

“To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour (what’s Paul talking about? The same thing that Acts Chapter 15 said: that there was much disputation and these Jewish believers were coming down on him trying to push circumcision and Law on these Gentile believers, but Paul says that they didn’t back down. Why?); that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” That is you, Gentiles.

Now here is what I’m trying to say. Why did God send Peter to the house of Cornelius? For this event right here. Because you see, if Peter had not come to Paul and Barnabas’ defense, the rest of those Jews would have squashed them, and it would have stopped Christianity in its tracks, and they would have been no longer able to go to the Gentile world with the Gospel of Grace. But Paul says, “I did not give in, I stood my ground.” Now read on:

Galatians 2:6

“But of these who seemed to be somewhat [now what does he mean by that statement? Now that’s Holy Spirit inspired; Paul isn’t being nasty here. But you see the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem are not realizing that the whole Jewish program was slipping away from them, and the Gentile program was ascending. It was a transition, but they didn’t realize it. And that’s exactly what Paul is saying here], (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:”

What does “in conference mean?” When they really started to compare everything that had been unfolding. All the Old Testament promises and covenants, the revelations of Paul and his commission to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel of Grace, they put all of this together and compared notes and Paul could say, “It added nothing to me.” The Twelve couldn’t add anything to Paul’s revelations from the risen Lord. Paul had more than they did.

Galatians 2:7,8

“But contrariwise [on the other hand], when they [the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem] saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision [that Gospel in verse 2 that Paul preached to the Gentiles]was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision [Jew] was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the Circumcision [Jew], the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)'” Do you see how plain that is?

Galatians 2:9

“And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision (Jew).”

Now this was all decided in 51 A.D. Thirteen years after Peter had gone to Cornelius, and all this time those Jewish believers at Jerusalem are still maintaining Gentiles can’t be saved unless they become proselytes of Judaism. And you and I can thank God that we have this tremendous Gospel of Grace, because the Apostle Paul did not give in. Now do you get the picture? I also have another little analogy, that God did something way back in time for something that will come much later. And while we are looking at it, go to Galatians Chapter 4 for just a moment, for the two tie together. Remember Galatians was written for the purpose of telling these Gentile believers that they are not under the Law, but rather Grace. The Judaisers were following Paul everywhere he went, and they are not going to give up. They will still maintain that these Gentiles can’t be saved unless they embrace Judaism and keep the Law. So he had to hurriedly write this little letter to the Galatians, to admonish them not to give in. Now coming into Chapter 4 is one of my favorite studies. If I were ever given the opportunity to talk off the cuff for a few minutes, or give a devotion, this is the Scripture I would use. Paul says in verse 22:

Galatians 4:22

“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.” Who were they? The bondmaid was Hagar and she had a son named Ishmael, and the freewoman was Abraham’s wife Sarah and she had Isaac. Those are the two sons that are going to be used as an allegory.

Galatians 4:23

“But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh (now you remember the setting? God didn’t tell Abraham to go into Hagar and have a child by her. That was Sara’s idea, and not God’s. And so it was of the flesh. But you see God had been promising the son Isaac for twenty-some years, and they had to patiently wait, and even when they were past time for child bearing, then God miraculously gave them Isaac); but he of the freewoman was by promise.” Even though Sarah was 90 and Abraham was a 100 years old.

Galatians 4:24-26

“Which things are an allegory (they are a picture, but you see God set it all up. Paul couldn’t have written this if this hadn’t happened. But it did happen): for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” Now that Covenant was “Law” The Mosaic Law of which Ishmael is the picture. Now verse 25:

“For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia (that’s where I get the idea that Sinai is not close to Egypt but rather out in Arabia. And Paul said he went there after Damascus) and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” Paul is writing this before the Temple is destroyed. The Temple in Jerusalem with all their animal sacrifices is still going full steam ahead at this point in time.

“But Jerusalem which is above is free (now what’s that? That’s the heavenly situation in which you and I are now situated. We are citizens of the heavenlies Paul writes) which is the mother of us all.” So Isaac is a picture of Grace! Now verse 28:

Galatians 4:28,29

“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” Where does the promise come in? God promised Christ, that as a result of His going to that Roman Cross and dying and shedding His blood and being raised from the dead, this multitude of believers would be brought in.

“But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” And that is the way it has always been between the believers and unbelievers.

Galatians 4:30a

“Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son:…” What do they picture? The Law and legalism. Now let’s go back in our minds at least to the Book of Genesis. Remember when Hagar was first pregnant? She hadn’t even had her child yet, and already she begins to torment poor old Sara. Making life miserable for her by gloating that Sara can’t have a child and that she can. And finally Sara can’t take it any longer, and tells Abraham to get rid of her. And Abraham did. He sent her away. But you see God intervenes. God goes out there in the desert and tells Hagar, “You go right back to Sara’s tent, and you just stay there.” Thirteen years later God would tell Hagar and Ishmael to go right back where he brought her from in the first place. Out in the desert. Now why? Well, if they hadn’t gone back to Abraham and Sara’s tent, and if Ishmael had not been on the scene when Isaac came, then Paul would not have the allegory. Have you got the picture? So way back there in Genesis, God set the stage for the two boys Ishmael and Isaac to be raised for a while in proximity and then set apart, so Paul could say, “Now look this is exactly what we have to do with the Law.” We have to treat the Law and legalism the same way that Abraham treated Ishmael. And remember, God didn’t tell Abraham to give Hagar and Ishmael a tent next door. But where did He send them? Clear out into the desert. What was the purpose? Law and Grace won’t mix. Now verse 31:

Galatians 4:31

“So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Now go into Chapter 5 verse 1:

Galatians 5:1,2

“STAND fast therefore in the liberty (and remember, I always stress that liberty is not license. That doesn’t mean we are free to do as we please. But we are under the full exercise of our free will) wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” When someone tells you that you must keep the Law to be a child of God, then you run, because that is false teaching. Now verse 2:

“Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised (that is for Salvation), Christ shall profit you nothing.”

Now that’s scary. That tells me that every individual, whether he’s a Church member, devout, sincere, or just like Cornelius, who prayed and gave; if he is doing something to fulfill his Salvation or put the frosting on the cake, he is as lost can be. The Book says so. Christ can profit you nothing if you try to receive Salvation any other way than believing the Gospel.“Faith + Nothing.” So we have to warn people, “Don’t depend on something that you can do.” I don’t care what it is. In this case it was circumcision, but it can be anything. It can be Church membership, it can be a baptism, it can be anything that you can do in the flesh. And when you do it as part of Salvation it is no salvation at all, and insults the work of the Cross. And always remember that. When Christ said, “It is finished,” He meant what He said! Everything that we need was accomplished on that Cross.

222 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 2 - Part 2 - Book 19 - Acts 11

222: Acts 11 – Lesson 2 Part 2 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 19

ACTS 11

Now let’s pick up again in Acts Chapter 10. We will skip a verse or two and pick up at verse 33, It’s always such a joy to see people that are interested in The Book. In our teachings we always try to compare Scripture with Scripture, and it’s so refreshing to see people study the Word of God. As a Christian society, I’m afraid we may have gotten to spending too much time in reading a lot of books, rather than spending quality time in The Book. There are a lot of people who think I’m wrong in some of my teachings, and I have yet to have one person prove me wrong, but I’m always ready to listen to all points of view as long as it’s Biblical. But our main purpose for teaching is to get people into The Book, to see what The Book really says as well as what it doesn’t say.

In our last lesson, Peter and six other believing Jews have by Sovereign intervention made their way up to Caesarea to a house of a Roman army officer, and all of his relatives and friends. This is new ground for Peter to be going into the house of a Gentile, but remember, God has pushed the issue and Peter has no choice. I’m sure he was almost shaking in his boots at the thought of having to go into this Gentile house. It was unlawful for a Jew to do this. But nevertheless he went in and Cornelius tells Peter all that had happened to him, and then Peter has confidence that indeed God is going to evidently deal with this Gentile. Let’s start in verse 33 – Cornelius has finished his part of the conversation.

Acts 10:33

“Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”

Remember I mentioned previously that God has seen fit to leave His Word not in the hands of angels, but rather in the hands of fellow men. He has chosen to let the Word be promoted by you and I. So it’s available to any human being that will pick it up. It’s not limited to theologians, seminaries, or the monasteries, or anything else. Now when Peter realizes that God is in this situation he speaks.

Acts 10:34

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:”

Did he think that a week ago? Why heavens no! And rightfully. Let’s go all the way back to the Book of Exodus. Here the plagues are unfolding on the Egyptians, and we come down to the end of the third plague and that would be in Chapter 8. Now the first three plagues fell also on the children of Israel, but now God is going to do something different.

Exodus 8:22,23a

“And I will sever (or separate) in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth (and then He repeats it in verse 23). And I will put a division between my people and thy people:…”

Do you see those words?. That was the beginning of God totally mandating that the Nation of Israel would remain separated from the other nations of the world. And that never left them. All the way up through the Old Testament, with the exception of when they went so far down into idolatry that they lost their belief in God. But anytime they had a knowledge of God and His Word, Israel was kept a separated people, and as soon as they lost that separation then God’s judgment fell. You remember the account of Balaam the false prophet, when he was supposed to curse the children of Israel for Balak, the King of Moab. God forbade Balaam from doing that, but old Balaam had another Satanic inspired thought and he told the Moabites to put their prettiest girls out there where those Jewish young men could be seduced by them. And it worked, and remember God’s judgment killed 23.000 of these Jews for committing those acts. They had lost their separated character. And so all the way up through here you have to understand that it wasn’t that the Jew had become bigoted or proud, but God had mandated that they remain a separated people.

Now I also have another verse concerning this. You will find this one in the Book of Acts Chapter 22, where Paul has now been out among the Gentiles and he is more or less being called on the carpet for it there in Jerusalem. As he makes his appeal to the whole multitude of Jews, he goes through the whole scope of his own conversion, and how God had saved him on the road to Damascus. Then how God had told him in verse 21 the following.

Acts 22:21,22

“And he (The Lord Jesus from Heaven above) said unto me, `Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles (look at the next verse).’ And they gave him audience unto this word (what word? `Gentiles’ in verse 21), and then lifted up their voices, and said, `Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live.'” This word caused a riot there, because Paul dared to mention the word Gentile. Now that’s how separated they understood they were to be as a nation of people. And that was what God had instructed. So now let’s return to Acts Chapter 10. When Peter comes to Cornelius with this trepidation you can understand why. And as we saw in verse 34, Peter says that God is no respecter of persons.

Acts 10:35-38

“But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel (it still came to Israel first), preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached: How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good (with all His miracles), and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (that is Jesus The Messiah).”

Acts 10:39

“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem (what did Peter leave out? Gentiles. Jesus didn’t go outside of Israel, because He came to fulfill all of the Abrahamic Covenants and promises); whom (Israel) slew and hanged on a tree:”

Acts 10:40-43

“Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Now what I want to point out is that it’s just as important to understand what This Book does not say, as what it does say. Now it does not say one word here that Christ died for them, that He shed His Blood for them, and that He arose from the dead as a means of Salvation. Not a word. If you can find it please show me. All Peter is rehearsing again is Who Jesus was. And at this point and time in Scripture what was He? The Messiah of Israel. The Son of God, the One Who was to be The Redeemer and The King of the chosen people in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. And Peter knew nothing more than that. That is all that has been revealed to him. Why? Because everything concerning what we call the Gospel of Grace is still hidden at this time in the mind of God. And I’ve said it over and over and will say until the day I die or am Raptured, that you can’t believe something that someone has never said. And how can you believe something that God hasn’t said? Well you can’t. No one ever took God ahead of time and said, “Well I know that’s what He’s going to say.”They believed it after He said it, and the same way here. God has not yet said that He’s going to save the whole human race based on Jesus’ shed blood, and His death, burial, and Resurrection. So Peter couldn’t say it. Now let me show you what I’m talking about. Turn ahead to Romans the last chapter. I know that it takes a while for a lot of this to soak in, but once people see it their eyes are opened and they wonder why they had never seen it before. But here it is plain as day, and I won’t twist the Scriptures. but rather just let them sit where they are. I won’t try to interpret it, but I’m going to let you read it in your Bible. Here Paul is writing to this Gentile congregation in Rome.

Romans 16:25

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,” Do you see how plain that is? Paul is preaching something that God had kept secret. Peter didn’t know it. Now let’s look at Ephesians Chapter 3. This took me a long time, I’ll admit it. I was as jumbled up as everybody else. But all of a sudden everything just starts to separate out, and you wonder why you haven’t seen it before.

Ephesians 3:1,2

“FOR this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

How did God give the Law to Israel? To Moses at Mount Sinai. Moses came down and gave it to Israel. Here it’s the same procedure. He has given the doctrines of Grace to the Apostle Paul and Paul is taking it to the Gentiles. It’s just as plain as day.

Ephesians 3:3-5

“How that by revelation (not by the teaching of some theologian or anyone else but from the risen Lord) he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ); Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”

There were others that followed right behind Paul. We know that Barnabas was his right hand man as well as Silas. Verse 9:

Ephesians 3:9

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (Secret), which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”

And one of the names of Deity back in the Book of Genesis is that God is a God Who is everlasting to everlasting, but He is also capable of hiding things. And that’s God’s progression. And so God kept this also hidden until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul. There is another one in the Book of Colossians.

Colossians 1:24-26

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church (remember Paul almost always uses the term “The Body” which is His Church or The Church which is His Body): Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”

Now let’s come back to Acts Chapter 10. Peter hasn’t had any revelation of the mysteries. This is even before Paul has received it all. He’s out there in Arabia with the risen Lord. Paul was converted in the last chapter and he’s already down in the desert for his three years of revelations. But while God is dealing with Paul in the desert, He is starting the ball rolling with the Gentiles up here in Caesarea, and he is also setting Peter up for a crucial situation about twelve years down the road. Now verse 44:

Acts 10:44-48

“While Peter yet spake (he hadn’t even finished, he probably thought that he was just getting wound up) these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Now who was that? Cornelius and all these other Gentiles. Now verse 45, if you will analyze this carefully you can’t help but see it.

“And they of the circumcision which believed (these six Jews had believed for their Salvation that Jesus was The Christ, their Messiah. They had traveled with Peter from Joppa and)were astonished (this was something that had never happened before: Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit), as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Continuing on:

“For they heard them speak with tongues (or languages), and magnify God. Then answered Peter. `Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord….”

What’s happened? Well the procedures have been changed. They have totally flip-flopped. What am I talking about? Let’s look at Acts Chapter 2 verse 38, with Peter preaching to the Jews. Let’s just compare. Now as we read this verse watch the order.

Acts 2:38

“Then Peter said unto them, `Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.'”

Now what was the order? They had to repent, be baptized, and then they received the Holy Spirit. What happened in Chapter 10 with Peter preaching to Gentiles? There was a total reversal. Peter hadn’t even finished preaching yet, and the Holy Spirit is evident. Let alone baptized them, or hearing their repentance.

And then after the fact Peter says, “Wait a minute, we’ve got to do everything right, let’s baptize them.” Do you see the difference? Why? Because Acts is a transitional Book. We are moving out of that Jewish program and Law. We are moving more and more with God dealing with the Age of Grace. Now Chapter 11 verse 1:

Acts 11:1,2

“AND the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem,…”

I’m going to stop right there. After this glorious experience among Gentiles, why in the world did Peter go back to Jerusalem? Why didn’t he head out to the regions beyond? Or maybe head up into Syria, or Asia Minor, and Greece? Why didn’t Peter call for the other disciple and say, “Hey, fellows, things are happening among the Gentiles, let’s get down into Egypt.” Does he? No! Where does he go? Back to Jerusalem. And that is where he is going to stay for ever so long. Do you see what I’m driving at? Peter was not commissioned by our Lord to go to the Gentiles in general. Only to the house of Cornelius for the purpose that I’ll show you in the next lesson. Now verse 2 again:

Acts 11:2,3

“And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision (believing Jews in this case) contended with him (what does that mean? They argued with him. They put up a fuss, and said) Saying, `Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.'”

Now just think. What’s the mentality of these believing Jews at Jerusalem? It’s still Law! You can’t get around it. You can’t sit down and eat Gentile food, it’s not kosher. You can’t go in and visit with Gentiles, they’re uncircumcised dogs. So that was still the mentality of the believers in Jerusalem, and this is eight years after the Cross. Why? God hasn’t revealed the secret of Grace going to the Gentiles. He’s been dealing with the Nation of Israel under the Law. Remember Ananias in Chapter 22?

Acts 22:12a

“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law,…” So even Ananias is a good Law-keeper, even though he was up there in Damascus. So these are things you have to sort out to become a good student of the Word.

221 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 2 - Part 1 - Book 19 - Acts 10

221: Acts 10 – Lesson 2 Part 1 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 19

ACTS 10

In the last program, we had just finished one of the turning points in the Book of Acts and that was the conversion of Saul in Chapter 9. Remember. the Book of Acts is a transitional book. We start the book with just an extension of the Jewish program right after the Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus. Peter and the eleven are still appealing to the Nation of Israel to repent of the worst sin they had ever committed, and that was killing their Messiah. Those are the words Peter uses, “You killed Him, you murdered Him. Repent and God would yet pick up where He left off, He would send The King, and then you can have the Kingdom.” And then we came to the stoning of Stephen who also had been appealing to the Nation of Israel, “Just realize and believe that the One that you killed was indeed The Messiah, The Christ. The Son of the living God.” But what did Israel do? They stoned him and laid their clothes at the feet of Saul of Tarsus.

And that introduces us to Saul of Tarsus. He was a Jew, a Pharisee of the Pharisees who hated the very name of Jesus of Nazareth, not because he was a blasphemer per se, but because of his religious convictions. Saul of Tarsus honestly thought he was doing God a favor in trying to stamp out these early Jewish believers who believed that Jesus was The Messiah. So at the height of Saul’s rebellion, we find him in Gentile territory in Damascus, not going to put Gentiles under arrest, but rather Jews. So he’s planning on going to the synagogues to bring back the believing Jews to Jerusalem so that they might be put in prison or put to death, because they were following Who Saul thought was an impostor.

Just outside of this Gentile city of Damascus, on Gentile ground (not on Jewish ground as the Twelve were called), we find God in Grace reaches down and saves this man. I call him a raging bull for his religion. God immediately informs him that He is going to send him to the Gentiles, and that is the first indication we have in the Book of Acts, that God is going to bring the Gentiles into the picture. Not that it was something new because the Old Testament was full of it: that Israel’s Messiah was to be a Light unto the Gentiles, but only through Israel. But now since Israel has had these seven years of constantly rejecting Peter and the eleven and their appeal, God, you might say, gives up on the Nation of Israel, and sets them aside. In just a few years after all this takes place, we know that the Roman armies destroy the Temple and Jerusalem, and the Jewish people go into a dispersion that has lasted until our generation. They have been coming back into the land of Israel since the early 1900’s. In 1948 they became a sovereign state again, and everything that has been taking place now for the past 40 years has been getting ready for the fulfillment of the prophetic word.

I always emphasize that there is no prophecy directed to the Church, rather all prophecy is directed to the Nation of Israel. And so as yet, God is not dealing with the nation. We are not seeing prophecy per se being fulfilled, we are merely seeing the stage set, all the props are being put into place, all the players are getting ready. The curtain will rise at the signing of that seven-year treaty by the Anti-christ and the Nation of Israel. Then the seven-year period of Tribulation, in which God will again be dealing prophetically with the Nation of Israel.

Now coming through the Book of Acts transitionally, we saw Saul converted and how God took him out of Damascus. I feel He took him down to Mount Sinai, the same mountain where He gave Moses the Law. And for three years in a private solitary seminary training, if you want to call it that, God revealed to Paul the `Mysteries,’ and these mysteries become that whole sphere of Grace doctrine. I have emphasized ever since I started in the Book of Genesis that you will find nothing of the Church in the Old Testament. You will find nothing of the Body of Christ in the Four Gospels, but rather it is strictly a Pauline revelation given to him by our resurrected Lord. Paul is constantly appealing to us on that behalf. It was to him that these revelations of Grace doctrines were revealed. Until that time they had been kept secret, hidden in the mind of God. In the Book of Genesis, at the time of Abraham one of the names of Deity was that He is the eternal Sovereign Creator God, but also a God Who could hide things if He wanted to. I’ve used Deuteronomy 29:29 so often. Through Moses God said:

Deuteronomy 29:29

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever,…”

So you will see this all the way up through Scripture, that God has kept things secret, but when He reveals them He expects the human race to believe it whether it be Jew or Gentile. That’s enough of a short review. Now we come to Chapter 10 to Peter. We will only touch on Peter here in Chapter 10 and a little in Chapters 11, 12 and 15, and then Peter fades off the scene in the Book of Acts never to be heard from again. It’s going to be filled with the Apostle Paul and his dealing with the Gentiles with the doctrines of Grace. Now of course Peter is going to write his little epistles at the back of our Bible, but remember they are written just shortly before Peter and Paul are both martyred. That occurs shortly before the Romans destroy the Temple in 70 A.D. Saul has been converted as the head of the Gentile converts as I showed you in I Timothy. Paul maintained that he was the leader of sinners saved by Grace to be the pattern or example to those who become believers, but here in Chapter 10 Peter comes into the scene:

Acts 10:1

“THERE was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, “

He was a Gentile, a Roman officer in charge of 100 men. He was going to be sovereignly touched by the Grace of God, because the Apostle to the Gentiles had just been saved and so Gentiles can now be placed into the Body of Christ. You will see Gentiles coming on the scene more and more. There is a particular reason for Peter going up to Cornelius’ house other than just the Salvation of that household, although that was important. Remember, God always has the big picture; we only see the little one. But the big picture here is that God is going to prepare not just the house of Cornelius, but He is going to prepare Peter for an event that will take place twelve years down the road. The Scriptures don’t bring it out here and we won’t catch it until we get to Acts Chapter 15. Now in the next verses we find Cornelius being approached by an angel, but in verse 2 let’s see what kind of a man Cornelius was.

Acts 10:2

“A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.”

But Cornelius was lost. That might shock people, but he’s lost. Religious yes, even praying to the right God. He is not praying to one of the Roman Gods, but praying to God. You might say, “Well, how do you know that?” Well let’s go over to Chapter 11. In this chapter Peter has already been up to Caesarea, back down to Jerusalem, and is sharing all the events with his fellow Jews who are believers. While sharing with them, look what he says:

Acts 11:12-14

“And the Spirit bade me go (I’ve always said that Peter never would have gone up there on his own, but God made it so evident he didn’t dare say no) with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, `Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter (now here in verse 14 is the indication they were lost); Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house (the next word is future) shall be saved.'”

So Cornelius in spite of his praying, giving, believing in God was lost. Do you see that? Now what’s the lesson there? It’s the same way today. Our churches are full of people like Cornelius. They are devout, sincere, they pray, they give but they are lost. It’s a sad story, but so true. In fact, I’ve said over and over that the hardest person for God to bring to a place of Salvation is this kind of person. They are so good and religious, and see no need of any salvation, but they need it, and so did Cornelius. Now let’s go on:

Acts 10:3-6

“He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day (about 3 o’clock in the afternoon) an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, `Cornelius.’ And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, `What is it, Lord (How many times back in the Old Testament pagan people would refer to the God of Abraham as Lord, but they didn’t know him as Lord. It was just a term. And it’s the same way here. Cornelius couldn’t call him Lord by virtue of a personal experience or relationship with Him. It was just a term)?’ And he said unto him, `Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.'”

Because most of you know this story even better than I do, let’s go to Peter down at Joppa. Remember Israel is small and Caesarea to Joppa probably is no more than 60 miles.

Acts 10:8-12

“And when he (Cornelius) had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour (that’s noon time): And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they (I imagine the women of the house) made ready,(the food), he fell into a trance (now God is going to work here supernaturally, because this is a supernatural situation), And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth. Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.”

Now in the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 11, God had defined which type of animals, fowl, and fish the Jews could eat that were clean. But this sheet doesn’t just include the clean animals, it’s everything, the clean and unclean together. Now read on.

Acts 10:13,14

“And there came a voice to him, `Rise, Peter, kill, and eat.’ But Peter said, `Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.'”

Why does Peter say that? He’s under the Law. Most people might miss that. We know that I put a vast chasm between Law and Grace. Hopefully I’m being known for it. You cannot mix Law and Grace in the Church Age. But Peter is still practicing the Law, and it will surprise you how many people won’t admit that. Is Peter mixing Law and Grace? No! He hasn’t been told to stop Temple worship. Peter hasn’t been told that he is no longer under the Law, but rather Grace. Peter is simply like the followers of Christ in His earthly ministry. He’s a Jew who believed that Jesus was The Christ. Peter had no doubt repented of his sins and been baptized. He was the typical Jewish believer. He is not yet aware of the doctrines of Grace, but he is very much aware of the Law as indicated here:

Acts 10:15-17

“And the voice spake unto him again the second time, `What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.’ This was done thrice (or three times): and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,”

Our God is a God of perfect timing! Just as the men who had made the journey from Caesarea to Joppa are at the gate asking for Simon Peter, Peter has just come through this vision of the sheet. And it all comes together just at the right moment. Now verse 19:

Acts 10:19,20

“While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, `Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.'”

I have asked my classes over the years, if it had not been for such a supernatural environment, the trance, the men at the gate, the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking, do you think Peter would have gone to Caesarea? No way. Because as far as Peter was concerned, Gentiles were still dogs, and God could have nothing to do with them. I always remind people what we have learned before. Come back to the Book of Matthew. You see Peter was not some stubborn Jew that should have known better. Peter was a Jew who knew what was expected. Peter was not way out in left field, he was being absolutely in accord with the program thus far. In Matthew Chapter 10 we have the very onset of Christ’s earthly ministry. In verse 2,3, and 4 He has chosen the Twelve, up there around Galilee. And now Jesus gives them their marching orders.

Matthew 10:5,6

“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, `Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'”

Is that plain language? You bet it’s plain. Now come over to the other account that is so clear, where He deals with the woman at Canaan in Chapter 15. Here we have a Gentile lady who also wanted the Lord to do something for her. So she approaches Jesus during His earthly ministry in verse 22.

Matthew 15:22

“And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, `Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.’ But he (Jesus) answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, `Send her away, for she crieth after us.'”

Now that was the Twelve. But what are the Twelve aware of? What Jesus had told them back in Chapter 10. “You are to have nothing to do with Gentiles, go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” They are under God’s control, they’re not being bigoted Jews, and the whole purpose as I have stressed since we started in Genesis is in the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. Israel was to be a nation of people, established in an area of land in which God Himself would come and be their King. And that was only for the Jew. And then Israel could go out and evangelize the nations, but not until that happened. They were to be a Kingdom of Priests. So these Jews are correct in their mentality that they were to have nothing to do with Gentiles. Now back to Acts Chapter 10. I really want you to understand that if it hadn’t been for God really putting the pressure and the proof on Peter that this is where he was supposed to go, then Peter would have never gone. He would have been more rebellious than Jonah ever thought about being. And you know what Jonah thought. “How in the world can I ever go to those Gentiles? They are our enemies.” But God was in control and had something else on His mind. And so here God tells Peter, “Go with these men.”They start for Caesarea.

Acts 10:23-25

“Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.” In Chapter 11 we will find that there were six believing Jewish brethren that went with Peter, and that makes a total of seven – God’s perfect number. See, everything fits.

“And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.” What does that tell you about Cornelius? He’s pagan, you don’t worship a fellow man, but he tried to.

Acts 10:26-28

“But Peter took him up, saying, `Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together (Gentiles). And he (Peter) said unto them (now watch this), `Ye know (these Romans knew the Jewish customs) how that it is an unlawful (what is Peter coming back to? The Law) thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.'”

When did God show him? In the vision he had with the sheet of the clean and unclean animals. And then Peter understood. He’s not talking about eating food, He’s talking about the human race. Now you remember the Apostle to the Gentiles was saved in Chapter 9, and so now the gates are being opened to Gentiles. And when we get into Chapter 11 it’s going to get wider. And then all of a sudden in Chapter 13, Paul and Barnabas go out on their missionary journeys. And for the most part they go to Gentiles; most Jews reject them. So keep all these things in your mind. Peter was uncomfortable going into the house of Cornelius, because it was unlawful for a Jew to go into a Gentile’s house But Peter says, God has shown me I cannot call anybody common or unclean.

220 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 1 - Part 4 - Book 19 - Saul's Conversion

220: Saul’s Conversion – Lesson 1 Part 4 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 19

SAUL’S CONVERSION

We are dealing with Saul’s conversion in Acts Chapter 9. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul writes this letter to the Galatians concerning his tremendous turn-around. He had been a zealous Jew, practicing Judaism (a man quite high in the religious hierarchy). Yet as a result of God’s Grace saving him on the road to Damascus, we are going to see him become the Apostle to the Gentiles. So turn to Galatians Chapter 1.

Other than Christ Himself, I think that Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul), and Moses were two of the greatest human beings that ever lived. Moses, of course, on the other side, and Paul on this side of the Cross. Here in Galatians Chapter 1, Paul has been explaining his past, and how God called him by His Grace, brought him from Damascus, and took him down into Arabia as we explained in our last program, probably to Mount Sinai. Now verse 18:

Galatians 1:18-20

“Then after three years (that’s where we get that he was in Arabia or Mt. Sinai for three years, and that’s a long time when you are alone. God was just pouring out all the things that now will come from the Apostle’s pen in these epistles, except for the prison epistles, which we feel are a further revelation, probably while he was in prison in Caesarea. Paul goes on to say) I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”

“But other of the apostles saw I none (in other words, he still doesn’t confer with the Twelve or the leaders of Judaism), save James the Lord’s brother.” We will see in Acts 15 that James has replaced Peter as moderator of the Twelve.

“Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.”

Now it’s rather interesting that throughout Paul’s Epistles he has to constantly defend his Apostleship. If Paul were alive today he would still have to be doing it. There are so many conservative Christians that won’t give Paul the time of day. They are so remiss in treating it that way. Let’s turn back to Romans Chapter 11. This is a verse again that has opened the eyes of so many people who have come into my classes. Most never knew that this verse was in their Bible, and yet it is so plain.

Romans 11:13

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles (Paul doesn’t share his Apostleship with anyone else. When it came to going to the Gentiles, he was the Apostle. And he wasn’t one of the Twelve, because they went to the Nation of Israel, the Jew), I magnify mine office:” He is going to make the most of his office, and indeed he did. Alright, now with that as the back drop, flip back to the Book of Galatians. So Paul is defending his Apostleship and says, “I lie not.” Over and over he’s going to say, “I guarantee what I say unto you has come from the ascended Lord.” Now Galatians 1:21:

Galatians 1:21

“Afterwards (that three years of seminary training at Mount Sinai) I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;” That would be Antioch and Tarsus.

After he left Sinai, it seems that he went back to Damascus for a short time, but we want to pick him up primarily here in Jerusalem. He meets with Peter for two weeks and also meets James, the Lord’s half brother. Then he is taken up to Caesarea again because the Jews are out to kill him, and from Caesarea he goes to Cilicia, which is a river valley where his hometown of Tarsus is located. Now let’s pick it up. Verse 22:

Galatians 1:22-24

“And was unknown by face unto the churches (assemblies of Jewish believers) of Judaea which were in Christ:” Remember all believers are in Christ.

“But they had heard only, `That he which persecuted us in times past now preached the faith which once he destroyed.'” Of course that would be that Christ was Who He said He was. But Paul now in his new revelations, which he refers to over and over as the `mysteries,’ will reveal that not only was He The Christ, but He died for the sins of the world and He arose from the dead in power and is able to justify all them that believe.

“And they (even those Jewish believers came to the place where they) glorified God in me.”

Let’s look at Chapter 2. When we get to Acts Chapter 15 you will see that Acts 15 and Galatians 2 fit perfectly together. They both record the same event, and that is the council in Jerusalem (we will come to that in a future study). Look at verse 2 of Galatians 2:

Galatians 2:2

“And I went up (that is from Antioch to Jerusalem, and Antioch is where Paul is dealing with Gentiles and the believing Jews didn’t like it. So Paul is called on the carpet and the Lord instructs him to go) by revelation, and communicated (when you communicate something, you get things across, and that is what he is saying here, that he got some things across to those people at Jerusalem) unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,”

Do you see what that says? There would be no need for language like that if he was preaching the same Gospel message that Peter did. But Paul is not preaching the same thing that Peter did. He’s enlarging on it. So that’s why he says, “That Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles.” And if only people could see that even today. That’s where you see that great separation now from Peter and Paul. Now verse 5. We’ll take this in detail in a future lesson.

Galatians 2:5

“To whom (the leaders at Jerusalem, the Twelve) we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour (do you know what that means? When Paul was under subjection, what’s he talking about? They were still trying to refute everything that he would say. And they were telling him that he was wrong, and they were subjecting him to that kind of pressure. But he says that he didn’t give in. And why didn’t he give in?); that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Gentiles.

Do you know what Paul is really saying? That if these Jewish believers at Jerusalem would have succeeded in putting Paul down and stopping his ministry among the Gentiles (which was what they really wanted to do), what would have happened for our chances of Salvation? We would not have had any, and that is exactly what he is saying. He withstood all this pressure that the Gentiles might continue to receive this Gospel of Grace. So everyone of us ought to thank the Lord that the Apostle Paul was true to his commission of taking the Gospel to our Gentile forefathers as well as to us. Now let’s read on for a little bit.

Galatians 2:6

“But of these who seemed to be somewhat (the Twelve in particular, thought they were still in control of the situation, and they didn’t realize that their program was slipping through the cracks. God was now turning to the Gentiles and, in just a few years, Israel is going to lose the Temple, the priesthood, their city, and their nation, and are going to be dispersed into every nation on the earth. So the Twelve were not aware of that), (whatsoever they were it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:” When the Twelve started to add two and two they couldn’t add anything to what Paul knew. They never had near the revelations that he now has so that’s why he said, “In conference they added nothing to me:” And I love that next verse:

Galatians 2:7,8

“But contrariwise (on the other hand what could they do for them? Oh, he had so much to tell them that they had never heard of) when they saw (but it took awhile) that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter;” Do you see that? And they understood that these were two separate entities.

“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same [that same God] was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)” God never changes.

Galatians 2:9

“And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars (Paul won’t let us forget that), perceived the grace that was given unto me (when they finally saw that, yes, God was doing something special through this Jew, Paul), they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship (they shook hands on the deal. And what did they agree on? This is so plain how can people miss it?); that we (Paul and Barnabas) should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they (Peter, James, and John) unto the circumcision (Jews).” See how plain that was, it was a gentlemen’s agreement that this is the way God intends, we are to stay with the Jew with the Gospel of the Kingdom, and you go to the Gentiles with the Gospel of Grace. Now verse 10: Paul says they only put one requirement on Barnabas and himself.

Galatians 2:10

“Only they would that we should remember the poor; they same which I also was forward to do.”

Now that brings up another point. Remember back in Acts Chapter 2 and 3, what did all those Jewish believers do with their material goods? They sold them and put the money in a common kitty. And remember I pointed out the reason they did that with such exuberance, was because they thought the Kingdom was just over the horizon, and who would need houses and land when the Kingdom would come in! There would be no poverty, poor, or need for personal wealth. Everybody would enjoy the wealth of the Kingdom so they did it gladly. But remember Israel didn’t respond to the message. The Kingdom didn’t come in, and what happened to their kitty? Theirs ran dry. Once you have relieved yourself of all your material wealth, and it’s gone, then it’s pretty hard to start over isn’t it? And it was back then. So they became poor. But God was gracious enough recognizing that those people had done it all under good intention, so He is going to take care of them for the rest of their physical lives with the offerings now from Paul’s converts among the Gentiles. Now come back to Acts Chapter 9 and we will study Galatians more in detail when we study Acts Chapter 15. But in the meantime you can read for yourself Acts Chapter 15 and Galatians Chapter 1 and 2. Just read them carefully and begin to compare and you will see they dovetail together so beautifully because they are the same event. Let’s begin with verse 26: So after that three years have gone by:

Acts 9:26-29

“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed (or intended) to join himself to the disciples (Jewish believers there in Jerusalem); but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles (the Twelve), and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians (remember these are not Gentiles. They were non-Palestine Jews): but they went about to slay him.”

They couldn’t stand anyone doing anything against Judaism. and so as you know there is nothing that stirs up murderous attitudes faster than religion. If they had opposition to Judaism, the best way to get rid of that opposition was to kill them, and that is what they attempted to do with Saul. Now verse 30:

Acts 9:30

“Which when the brethren knew (when Barnabas and some of the others found out what was planned for Saul by the unbelieving Jews) they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”

He has come back from his three years at Sinai, and has stopped in Jerusalem for those two weeks with Peter. And now they send him up to Caesarea which was a seaport town. From there he went up to the area of his home city of Tarsus and began his ministry to the Jews and Gentiles. I think Paul always went first to the synagogue of the Jew, but then when they would reject his message, he would go to the Gentile. And it’s amazing, we are going to leave Saul for a little while, and go back to Peter in Acts Chapter 10, but when we pick Paul up again in Chapter 11, that’s when it gets interesting again. As soon as the church at Antioch is beginning to show signs of Gentile interest, then good old Barnabas, led Sovereignly by the Holy Spirit, will go up to Cilicia in the area of Tarsus, and he is going to look for Saul. Look for him, the Scriptures says, and that means he had a purpose. And when he had found him, what does he do? He brings him back to Antioch and that’s where Gentile Christianity begins to flower. And it was at Antioch the Scripture says that the believers were first called Christians. (Reference Acts 11:26) Never do you see The Bible call these Jewish believers in Jerusalem Christians. At least mine doesn’t and I don’t think your does. So Gentiles were the first to be called Christians. Verse 31:

Acts 9:31

“Then had the churches (assemblies of Jewish believers) rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria (because the chief persecutor was now a saved believer), and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” Now archaeology is supporting that. There were thousands of Jews who became adherents to the fact that Jesus was The Messiah. They embraced that, and of course they were under constant pressure from the Judaising Jews, but nevertheless we know a lot of Jews became believers, by believing that Jesus was indeed their Messiah, The Christ. Now in verse 32 we leave Paul, he’s had his seminary experience and is back home in Tarsus. And we pick up with Peter again.

Acts 9:32-38

“And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy and Peter said unto him `Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed,’ And he arose immediately (what are we back to? Peter is ministering to Jews and performing miracles). And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber (ready for burial).”

Acts 9:38-42

“And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, `Tabitha, arise,’ And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up (now that’s a miracle. She was dead! This was a carry-over from Christ’s earthly ministry). And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was know throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord (remember these are all Jews). And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner. “

Now the Sovereign God is setting the stage for the next great event in the Book of Acts. And again it’s going to be so evident that God is not just looking at the near term, but also the long term. I always like to point out, this experience in the house of Cornelius doesn’t really have an impact on Christianity (that is, the Gospel going to the Gentiles), until we get to Acts Chapter 15. And that will be twelve years later. When Peter goes up to the house of Cornelius and witnesses the Salvation of that Gentile household, he goes back to Jerusalem, and there is no indication that now he’s had his eyes opened and he can go to Gentiles. But on the contrary, he forgets about it until twelve years later in Acts Chapter 15 when Paul is called on the carpet by the Jewish leadership (The twelve) for going to Gentiles. Finally, after a lot of disputing and arguing that Paul was wrong and that he was a heretic, we find old Peter coming to Paul’s defense. And what does Peter say?

Acts 15:7

And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, `Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago (twelve years ago) God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.'” And that is what spared Paul’s ministry.

219 - Les Feldick Bible Study Lesson 1 - Part 3 - Book 19 - Acts 9

219: Acts 9 – Lesson 1 Part 3 Book 19

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 19

ACTS 9

In our last lesson in Acts Chapter 9, we talked about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, a religious Jew, who was a fanatic and a zealot. But we saw the Grace of God stop him in his tracks and save him because he had no merit whatsoever, and that’s Grace. But how much does Saul know on the road to Damascus? That Christ died for his sins and that he rose from the grave for him? No! That isn’t the basis yet. He has only recognized Who Jesus really was. So let’s start where we left off. God is dealing with Ananias in verse 10:

Acts 9:10-14

“And there was a certain disciple (or believer) at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, `Ananias,’ And he said, `Behold, I am here, Lord.’ And the Lord said unto him, `Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth (Saul is on communication ground now with the Lord Himself).’ And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here, he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.'” In Chapter 22, we see what kind of man Ananias really was. Paul is speaking in the first person many years after the Damascus experience, and is recounting his conversion to the multitude of Jews.

Acts 22:11,12

“And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias (the one spoken of in Chapter 9), a devout man according to the (what?) Law!….”

So what is Ananias? He is a believing but Law-keeping Jew. No one has told Ananias yet, “You’re not under the Law, you’re under Grace.” No one has told these Jewish believers to quit Temple worship and stop legalism. They have maintained their Judaism, but they have also recognized that Jesus was The Christ. Do you see the difference? That is what we call the Gospel of the Kingdom – that Christ was the King of Israel; He was ready to give them the Kingdom, but they had to repent and be water baptized in order to be ready for that Kingdom. So Ananias is a believer that Saul was coming after. Turn to Chapter 26. Again, Paul is rehearsing in the first person all of this. Come down to verse 9:

Acts 26:9,10

“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” He never got over it. But nevertheless, he had to recognize that this was what he had to go through before God could use him.

“Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints (these Jewish believers) did I (he takes responsibility for it himself. So he had to be a pretty big wheel in Judaism to have that kind of authority) shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death….”

They actually killed those Jewish believers as being heretics, they were offscouring of Judaism and they put them to death. And Paul takes responsibility for it. We often wonder how the Jews maintained the kind of authority that could keep their Temple going. In fact, I was reading a book just a few weeks ago, where every Jew out in dispersion would send fairly good-sized sums of money back to the Temple. The Romans never intercepted any of that. The Romans actually guaranteed safe delivery for these offerings of these Jewish people that went back to the Temple in Jerusalem. So, Rome sort of condescended to Judaism. They even gave permission to put their own people to death and that’s why Paul could say that he put them in prison and voted to put them to death. Rome would never have allowed that to happen to a Gentile. But you see, they put up with Judaism. The best explanation I’ve read on it is that the Romans had great respect for ancient religions, including their own mythologies. And Judaism is an ancient religion.

But when Christianity made its appearance under the Roman empire, that was not an ancient religion, that was something new and so they tried every which way to stamp it out. That’s why Christians came under such massive persecution under Rome. And yet the Jews didn’t. But notice that Paul even recounts in his own experience how he persecuted those Jewish believers, but they were Jews still under the Law. When we get to Chapter 10 I’ll show you that Peter is still a Law-keeper. But that’s for another time. Let’s move on. The Lord is speaking to Ananias here.

Acts 9:15

“But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.'”

We haven’t seen that name `Gentile’ much before because it’s been all Jewish. But here is the big turning point in the Book of Acts. I’m going to send him, God said, to the Gentiles. He’s also going to kings and the children of Israel. Let’s go on to verse 16. And if you know anything about Paul’s missionary journeys you know how that man suffered. Starvation, deprivation, imprisonment, stoning, wrecked at sea, and it was all, I think, a flashback on how he himself had caused so many to suffer, for God says, in verse 16:

Acts 9:16-18

“I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake (in the ministry. And he was finally martyred because of it.).”

“And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house (the house that was of Judas,’ back in verse 11) and putting his hands on him said, `Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus (see how he’s emphasizing who He is), that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost (that hadn’t happened yet).’ And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” Of course there’s no doubt about it, he was baptized because he was still under that Jewish economy that demanded it. Now verse 19:

Acts 9:19,20

“And when he had received meat, he was strengthened, Then was Saul certain days with the disciples (these believing Jews) which were at Damascus.” Now let’s look at verse 20. Highlight it, or underline it, or do something with it so you won’t lose it.

“Straightway (in other words, from his receiving strength, his sight and his baptism, he is now ready to get after it. Now watch the text again carefully) he preached Christ in the(marketplace? among the Gentiles? No, that’s not what it says. It says he preached Christ in the) synagogues,…”

So who is he preaching to? Jews! He preached Christ to the Jews. What did he preach? That he is the Son of God, Who died for him and rose from the dead? No! What am I trying to drive home? Even Saul of Tarsus was saved under the Kingdom Gospel, believing Who Jesus was. And Who was He? The Son of God. The Messiah of Israel. The promised One out of the Old Testament as coming to the Jews under the Covenant promises. That’s all he understood because that’s as much as God had revealed to him this time. Remember, this man is not going to continue just preaching to the Jews in the synagogue. God’s got a path for him among the Gentiles. So what is He going to have to do? He’s going to have to get him out of town to some place where he can enlighten him as to what He wants. Let’s see what happened. Again, remember that verse 20 was the same confession that Peter spoke, Martha spoke and that all the others spoke, including the Ethiopian eunuch. But that’s not enough now, so God’s going to move him out.

Acts 9:21a

“”But all that heard him were amazed, and said, `Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem…'”

You see what I emphasized in the early chapters of Acts? What did they place their faith in? His Name! And what did His Name indicate? Who He was! He was The Christ, The Son of God.

Acts 9:21b-22

“…and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews (he isn’t going to Gentiles yet) which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this (Jesus) is very Christ.”

This was the whole purpose of that miraculous three years of earthly ministry, to prove to the whole Nation of Israel Who He was. And to those Jews who could believe, they had Salvation and became disciples. This is as much as even Saul knows at this time – that Jesus was The Christ. But God’s got greater things for him to understand. And so God is going to have to pull him out and how does He do it? Verse 23 explains that. It is so easy to understand. God has to get Saul out of town. He could have done it like He moved Philip, but He didn’t, He used circumstances. In fact when people ask me, “Well, Les, how can I know the will of God?” Do you know what my first answer is? “Circumstances.” When God slams the door in your face, what are you to realize? That’s not where He wants you. And every time He closes the door, He opens another one. And so you follow your circumstances, as well as the Scriptures and prayer. But God is going to move in circumstances, and that is what He is doing here. Circumstances are going to arise, and Saul is going to have to move out. And what is it? Verse 23:

Acts 9:23-25

“And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:” There is a conspiracy about. Not from the believing Jews, but the orthodox, the ones who were still back where Saul was before he was converted.

“But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.” Somebody let the cat out of the bag, and Saul found out about it. There’s a bunch of Jews out to kill him. Those people were just as normal as we are today, What does Saul do? He makes arrangement to get out of Damascus.

“Then the disciples (those Jewish believers) took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.”

So Saul takes off, and God is going to lead him. Between verse 25 and verse 26 we’ve got a three-year gap in here. We have to go back to the Book of Galatians Chapter 1 to pick that up. When people have doubts or wonder about my approach to the difference between Peter and Paul, I usually ask them to read Galatians Chapters 1 and 2 carefully and slowly, and with an open mind. Don’t read a commentary. Don’t listen to what I say, but just read these two chapters very carefully, and if that doesn’t open your mind then I don’t see how anything else can. Galatians Chapter 1. Drop down to verse 16, where Paul now many years later is writing this little epistle to the Gentile believers up there in Galatia.

Galatians 1:16,17a

“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen (Gentiles the non Jews); immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:” In other words, in Damascus after his conversion, there were several days involved, but time-wise it was short. “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me;….”

Paul didn’t go back to Jerusalem and check in with the Twelve. He didn’t go back and ask Peter to fill him in regarding the three years Peter was with The Lord, or the forty days after His Resurrection. Paul didn’t say, “Fill me in so I can go out and preach with some authority.” He makes it so plain that he did not do that. He did not have contact with the leadership in Jerusalem.

Galatians 1:17b

“…but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”

From Damascus he made his way down to, I’m sure, Mount Sinai in Arabia. The reason I think that, is because in Galatians Chapter 4, Paul is using the allegory of Ishmael and Isaac. And look at the geography that comes up in verse 25:

Galatians 4:25a

“For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia,…”

We know that Mount Sinai was the place where God gave the Law to Moses. Isn’t it appropriate to feel that this is the place in Arabia that God took Saul to reveal to him the doctrines of Grace? Three years he spent in a private seminary. No one except him and the Lord so far as we know. That’s a long time. But he had a lot to soak up and, consequently, from this three years of being alone with the ascended Lord, out of it comes this Apostle prepared to go to the Gentiles, not with Judaism and the Law, but with Grace. Not with just the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus was The Christ, but with the Gospel of Grace which is that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of the living God, Who died for our sins, shed His blood, was buried, and rose from the dead. Do you see the difference? That is all that Paul can write and talk about. I had a letter recently that asked, “Didn’t Peter ever come to understand Paul revelations; his uniqueness as an Apostle?” Yes he did, it took a while, but come back for a moment to Peter’s little epistle and I’ll show you. Peter is writing this little epistle just shortly before he is martyred. This would be about 66 or 67 A.D. or about 30 years after Saul’s conversion. So at least thirty years have elapsed since Peter and Paul had their meeting in Jerusalem. Let’s begin at verse 15:

II Peter 3:15a

“And account (understand) that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation;…”

That’s what the whole Bible is about. Beginning in Genesis, as soon as man fell, God begins to put a plan of Salvation on the human race. He’s not willing that any should perish. Cain and Abel certainly didn’t understand crucifixion, but Abel did what God said to do. Moses and the Law didn’t understand what we call the Gospel of our Salvation that Christ died for our sins. But they did what God told them to do. Let’s see what Peter says in verses 15 and 16:

II Peter 3:15,16

“And account (understand) that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him (by revelation from the Lord Himself) hath written unto you;” Do you see where Peter is putting Paul? Not as some heretic, but someone who has now been part and parcel of the very working of God Himself.

“As also in all his epistles (now what part of your Bible is that? Romans through Hebrews. That’s the heart of our New Testament), speaking in them of these things (that’s Salvation in verse 15); in which are some things hard to be understood,…”

Thirty years afterwards, Peter is still having trouble with Paul’s message, and Paul’s going to the Gentiles. But he has to agree. Paul is on the right track. Now why was it so hard for Peter to understand? He was steeped in Judaism, and legalism. You know this is what is so hard for people even today. It’s like pulling teeth to see someone come out from under legalism, and step into the glory of God’s Grace. They fight it tooth and nail. And Peter’s no different. Bless his heart, I’m anxious to see old Peter, and I don’t think it will be that much longer. We as Christians are all going to be meeting one another. But Peter still couldn’t quite comprehend that God would save those pagan heathen, without at least coming in to embrace the Mosaic system, keeping the Law, circumcision, and every other command that was demanded of a proselyte. But to save them by Grace plus nothing was hard for him to understand.

II Peter 3:15

“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Are people twisting the scriptures? You’d better believe it. Peter is saying, “Look, if you want Salvation today read Paul’s writings.” He doesn’t say go back to the Four Gospels, or Christ’s earthly ministry or to Pentecost and his great sermon. Peter doesn’t say to look at what he told the Nation of Israel, but rather to go to Paul’s epistles. In them you will find Salvation, the Christian walk, and all the things that God expects of a believer today. Now let’s go back to Galatians Chapter 1 verse 17 again:

Galatians 1:17,18a

“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and (now the last part of this verse is there for a reason, and I don’t know why. If it wasn’t there it could be explained so much easier, but it’s there) returned again unto Damascus.” Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem…”

If Paul hadn’t put in that he returned to Damascus in verse 17, then you could follow his course more easily. We know that he left Damascus over a wall in a basket and went to Mount Sinai in Arabia where he spent three years. From there, with all these new revelations, it would be logical to expect that he stopped in Jerusalem, visited with Peter, went up to Caesarea, probably took a ship up the river that came down from Cilicia, and then went back to his home city of Tarsus. So that’s the route now that Paul will be taking as he begins his ministries to Gentiles in his home area of Tarsus.