The Apostle Paul
Paul the evangelist was known as Saul before he became a Christian. He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia in Asia Minor. His family was of the line of Benjamin. He grew up in Jerusalem and studied Jewish tradition under the elder Gamaliel, becoming a zealous Pharisee.
Paul was at first an active opponent of those that followed Jesus. He took care of the cloaks of those who threw stones at Stephen (Act 7:58, 22:20).
On his way to Damascus to persecute more believers of Jesus he was stopped by a blinding light: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him:
Saul, Saul, why persecuted thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do (Act 9:4-6).
Paul then became a servant to Christ. And his zeal to persecute the early Christians was re-channeled into preaching the Gospel.
Paul made three missionary journeys around Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia. He is the author of thirteen New Testament letters – Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
It is also possible that he might have written Hebrews. With the exception of Romans, all of Paul’s letters were written to churches or individuals whom he knew personally.
Damascus is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo. Commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine. Wikipedia
Population: 1.711 million (2009)
Area: 40.54 sq miles .
The focus of Paul’s writings is Jesus, through whom God has affected redemption for all people regardless of ethnic or social background.
Paul was willing to evangelize about Jesus despite great risk to himself. He was threatened, beaten, flogged, stoned and imprisoned on various occasions, but never gave up his preaching of Jesus Christ.
He might have been the most zealous and hardest working Apostle of all time. It is believed that Paul was beheaded in Rome under Nero in or about 67 A.D.
It appears that out of all the disciples Paul had done the most against the church, and also the most for the church. He was punished for his faith in Jesus Christ more than any of the others and he travelled the farthest to spread the Good News. All of this is in the Book of Act.
It is important to understand Paul because he tells his story throughout the New Testament, and explains a lot about Jesus.
The disciples were with Jesus for three years, but Paul knew as much as they did, if not more. That is proof that Jesus can and will give to each person what he chooses to give.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Ancient…
1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
The book of Acts is the greatest handbook of information on the workings of the Holy Spirit in the world today. It is the practical working out of the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20, Mk 16:15-20, and Lk 24:46-49) and literally fulfills Mk 16:20, “They went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” This relationship between the Holy Spirit and the believers is clearly portrayed throughout the book of Acts.
Whereas “the former treatise” (that is, the Gospel of Luke) dealt with “all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1), the book of Acts describes what Jesus continues to do and teach through the lives of the believers (His church). We might say, “These are the acts of the resurrected Christ through the believers.”
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
“Baptized with water…with the Holy Ghost” – being baptized with water only shows that you are a believer, like a wedding ring shows you are married. When the disciples were baptized with the Holy Ghost they had power to heal.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
“It is not for you to know” – God is a mystery and He has His reasons for us not to know everything – we live by faith, not by sight or knowledge.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
“Shall so come in like manner” – see Matt 24:30; 1 Thess 4:16-17.
More then a religious gesture, water baptism is a public declaration symbolizing you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as the one who is able to save you from your sin. By being baptized, you are identifying with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. It’s a public way of saying ‘goodbye’ to your old life and embracing new life through Jesus Christ.
12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
“Sabbath days’ journey” – about ¾ of a mile.
13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
“He burst asunder” – Judas Iscariot hanged himself.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
This is where the following occurred:
– The Last Supper was the meal Jesus shared with his apostles the night before he died. During this meal he instituted the Eucharist.
– The coming of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost, is recognised as marking the birth of the Christian Church.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two; Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
…Athens. Athens plays a good role in this book so I’m going to show you what Athens was and what it is today.