Author: carmenhsu

August 22, 2019

Acts 4 – 2019-08-22

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  • Acts 4:13-22 (ESV)

    13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

  • Study Questions:
  • Acts 4:13-14
    • What do the rulers and elders observe in vv. 13-14? How do they respond to these observations, and how could they have responded instead? What lessons and warnings are there for me regarding pride and truth?

    Acts 4:18-20

    • Consider the parallels between what the rulers attempted and today’s social climate toward speech about Jesus. How have I experienced this?
    • What is behind Peter and John’s courage? How can I grow in my courage to speak for Jesus in a forbidding environment?
  • Prayer
August 21, 2019

Acts 4 – 2019-08-21

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  • Acts 4 Commentary

    v.4:  “This growth is phenomenal, considering that women and children are not included in this accounting.”[1]

    vv.8-12: “Peter proceeds to preach the gospel to his judges, and he bases his argument on a well-known Old Testament text.  ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner’ (Ps. 118:22) is one of the earliest messianic testimonies […]”[2]

    “When we read Peter’s speech, and remember to whom it was spoken, we recognize one of the world’s great demonstrations of courage.  It was spoken to an audience of the wealthiest, the most intellectual and the most powerful in the land, and yet Peter, the Galilean fisherman, stands before them rather as their judge than as their victim.  Further, this was the very court which had condemned Jesus to death.  Peter knew that he was taking his life in his hands.”[3]

    v.13: “In other words, though Peter and John are professionally unqualified, they are boldly conducting their own defense with great eloquence before this august assembly.  The Sanhedrin already knows that these men have been with Jesus.  But this performance reminds them afresh how they have been influenced by Jesus, who also ‘taught… as one who had authority’ (Mark 1:22).  Jesus’ ministry once prompted the Jews to ask (John 7:15), ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’”[4]

    vv.15-17: “It is particularly striking that neither on this nor on any subsequent occasion did the authorities take any serious action to disprove the apostles’ central affirmation – the resurrection of Jesus.  Had it seemed possible to refute them on this point, how eagerly would the opportunity have been seized!  Had their refutation on this point been achieved, how quickly and completely the new movement would have collapsed!  It is plain that the apostles spoke of a bodily resurrection when they said that Jesus had been raised form the dead; it is equally plain that the authorities understood them in this sense.  The body of Jesus had vanished so completely that all the resources at their command could not produce it.  The disappearance of his body, to be sure, was far from proving his resurrection, but the production of his body would have effectively disproved it.  Now the apostles’ claim that Jesus was alive had received public confirmation by the miracle of healing performed in his name.  It was, for the Sanhedrin, a disturbing situation.”[5]

    v.18: One lesson that can be learned from this antagonistic encounter with the Sanhedrin is that Christian life entails persecution and difficulties.  The notion that Christian life should be a life of smooth sailing is a false notion derived more from the materialistic Western culture than from the Bible.  “We live in an age that gives much attention to mastering the art of avoiding suffering.  We live in what may be called an ‘aspirin generation,’ which views pain and suffering as calamities that are to be avoided at all costs.”[6]

    The apostles themselves faced persecution from the onset from these religious leaders.  “We must, therefore, not be overly disillusioned when criticism and persecution come our way from those who should be encouraging us the most.  Parents, whose children’s lives are transformed for the better through a youth movement, may oppose the movement as they fear that their authority will be undermined and their hypocrisy exposed.  Our best efforts may be discounted on technicalities by those who do not like what we say or are threatened by our message.  For example, a powerful message through song, drama, or speech may be discounted because it took too long.  To our acts of deepest sacrifice selfish motives will be attributed.”[7]

    vv.23-24: “The individualism of contemporary society has caused us to lower our standards of fellowship.  One of the saddest results of this is that it leaves us ill-equipped for crises.  The apostles shared what happened and prayed together.”[8]

    vv.24-28: “We see a dual perspective in this prayer.  While the prayer takes evil into account, before and after that accounting is a description of God and his ways.  Evil is a reality, but God is a deeper and more powerful reality.”[9]

    v.29: “One would expect them to ask God for further deliverance.  They did not.  Instead they asked for more of the same, requesting of him boldness in witness and further miraculous signs.”

    “Following their gaze at god, the problems facing these believers received only a glance, while their major request had to do with obedience (v.29).  Today too obedience to God should be our primary concern when we face crises.”[10]

    v.31: God immediately answered their prayers for boldness.  The place where they were meeting was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  In 4:8, 4:31, 13:9, and throughout the book of Acts, one can observe that the direct result of being filled with the Holy Spirit was to speak the truth boldly.  Likewise, the Holy Spirit enables God’s people today to speak the word of God and proclaim the gospel truth with great boldness.  When the Spirit prompts us to reach the lost world with His gospel and we do not obey, we are putting out the Spirit’s fire (1 Thess 5:19).

    vv.32-37: Many attempts have been made by our modern consumerist culture to minimize and explain away the portrayal of the early church in these verses, calling them “idealized” vision of the early church and so forth. Especially the description of selling possessions to support each other financially has caused an uneasy murmur among the churches.  The disproportionate discomfort at the challenge and the desire to explain the passage away (while trying to maintain the principle of generosity) points toward a tense struggle in Christendom to create a Christ-like community while at the same holding on to all the treasures of the world.  How did we come to this point?[11]

    “It is said that the theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) once called on Pope Innocent II when the latter was counting out a large sum of money.  The Pope remarked, “You see, Thomas, the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’  Aquinas replied, ‘True, holy father, but neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’’”[12]

    v.34: There were no needy persons among them. “Paul wrote, ‘Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality’ (2 Cor 8:13).  Relative equality is a goal every Christian should strive for.  I use the term relative because people’s spending can vary according to their culture and responsibilities.  But we must strive to have a situation where there are no needy people in the church.  Thus, Christians should not decide on their lifestyle by looking at their peers in society, but rather after looking at the needs of the believers around them.”[13]

    “Usually when we think of fellowship, we think of spiritual unity, of good relationships existing within the community, and of the sharing of good feelings towards each other.  But the characteristically Christian word for fellowship, koinonia, means much more than that.  Historian Justo L. Gonzales has shown that in the Bible, koinonia and its related words have the meaning of partnership as well.  Thus, we need to rethink our understanding of Christian fellowship in the light of what the New Testament records.  True fellowship includes the attitude ‘this is not my own’ to what one possesses.  True accountability must involve our finances as well as other aspects of our lives.”[14]

    [1] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.152

    [2] Bruce, F. F.  The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p.93

    [3] Barclay, William. Daily Study Bible Series: Acts, p.39

    [4] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.153

    [5] Bruce, F. F.  The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p.96

    [6] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.159

    [7] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.159

    [8] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, pp.170-171

    [9] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.175

    [10] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, pp.171-172

    [11] Hillimon, William.  Interpretation: Acts, p.53

    [12] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.149

    [13] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.191

    [14] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.189

    Acts 4:1-12 (ESV)

    1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

    5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

  • Study Questions:
  • Acts 4:1-4
    • Note how the message of the apostles is summarized in v. 2. Reread 1:1-3, and consider afresh the reality that Christianity began as a testimony to a fact—Jesus rose from the dead—rather than as a new moral or religious system. What are the implications for me?

    Acts 4:5-12

    • Consider this scene and Peter’s message to the rulers.What stands out as noteworthy? How does Peter’s confidence challenge me?

    Acts 4:12

    • What does this verse state regarding the source of salvation?
    • What is my response to the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to salvation?
  • Prayer
August 20, 2019

Acts 3 – 2019-08-20

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  • Acts 3:11-26 (ESV)

    11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

    17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

  • Study Questions:
  • Acts 3:11-26
    • Identify the elements of Peter’s second recorded message. Summarize the message in two or three sentences. How does this message address me?

    Acts 3:19-20

    • Consider the promise to those who repent. How is it that repentance leads to times of refreshing?
    • Reflect on the message of Psalm 32:

    Psalm 32:1–7 (ESV)

    1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

    whose sin is covered.

    2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,

    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

    3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away

    through my groaning all day long.

    4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

    5 I acknowledged my sin to you,

    and I did not cover my iniquity;

    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

    6 Therefore let everyone who is godly

    offer prayer to you

    at a time when you may be found;

    surely in the rush of great waters,

    they shall not reach him.

    7 You are a hiding place for me;

    you preserve me from trouble;

    you surround me

    with shouts of deliverance.

    Are there some sins I need to confess and repent of? What am I gaining by keeping silent? What am I forfeiting?

  • Prayer
August 19, 2019

Acts 3 – 2019-08-19

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  • CHAPTER 3 Commentary

    v.11: “Solomon’s Colonnade was the porch that ran along the east side of the Court of the Gentiles.  It had rows of 27-foot-high stone columns and a roof of cedar.  It was a good thirty yards wide and over five hundred yards long, so there was plenty of room for large gatherings.”[1]

    v.15: “When he talked of his witness, he said, ‘We are witnesses of this’ (3:15; cf. 2:32; 5:32).  Peter was not a lone voice; he had a ministry team backing him when he spoke.  Peter and John ministered as a team after this incident too (8:14). When the first missionary team for Gentile evangelization was commissioned, the Holy Spirit wanted two people set apart (13:2).  When this team broke up, both Paul and Barnabas took others along to form their own teams (15:39-40).  We know that Paul almost never traveled alone.  He had his traveling Bible school, where he trained ‘interns’ like Timothy and Titus.  Even when Paul went to Rome as a prisoner, Luke was with him (27:2).  In his last letter written from prison, Paul asked Timothy to join him quickly and to bring Mark along (2 Tim. 4:9,11).  Only in exceptional cases, such as Philip the evangelist, do we see ministry performed alone in the New Testament.”[2]

    v.19: “All they had to do to avail themselves of this salvation was to change their former attitude to Jesus and bring it into line with God’s attitude.  God had clearly declared his verdict by raising him from the dead.  Let them therefore repent, let them repudiate with abhorrence their acquiescence in the murder of their true Messiah, let them turn back in heart to God, and the salvation and blessing procured by their Messiah’s death would be theirs.  Their sins would be blotted out, even that sin of sins which they had unwittingly committed in consenting to the death of the Author of life.  Here is the heart of the gospel of grace.”[3]

    [1] Life Change Series: Acts

    [2] Fernando, Ajith.  The NIV Application Commentary, pp.141-142

    [3] Bruce, F.F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, pp.83-84

  • Acts 3:1-10 (ESV)

    1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

  • Study Questions: Acts 3:1-10
    • Consider the setting: the temple, the Beautiful Gate (famous for its imposing height and golden adornments), and the crippled beggar “lame from birth” begging for money. How are different versions of this picture played out in our world today?
    • Consider the truths that emerge from the contrast between the beggar’s highest hopes for the day vs. what was actually available to him from Peter and John.
    • What are some ways the elements of the passage – the beggar, silver and gold, Peter and John, the “name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” – resonate with my story and ultimately commission me?
  • Prayer
August 16, 2019

Acts 2 – 2019-08-16

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  • Bible Text: Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

    42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

  • Study Questions: Acts 2:42-47
    • According to this passage, what were the essential ingredients of the early church?
    • What are some concrete actions that must take place for such a community to form today?
    • If I were actually in a church like this, what adjustments would I need to make?
    • What do I find most inspiring about this picture of the first church?
  • Prayer
August 15, 2019

Acts 2 – 2019-08-15

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  • Bible Text: Acts 2:14-41 (ESV)14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

    17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
    18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
    19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
    20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
    21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

    22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

    “‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
    26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
    my flesh also will dwell in hope.
    27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One see corruption.
    28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

    29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,  31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.  32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

    “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Sit at my right hand,
    35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

    36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

    37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

  • Study Questions:
  • Acts 2:14-41
    • Peter speaks “with the eleven” (v. 14), signifying that this message is the testimony of the entire apostolic group. From Peter’s sermon, note several elements that commentators identify as standard features of apostolic preaching throughout the early church: (1) citation of Old Testament; (2) focus on Christ’s death and resurrection; (3) appeal to repent and offer of forgiveness. Identify the verses in which you find each of the above, and think about the relevance and significance of each of the elements.
    • In this sermon, note the words of comfort vs. words of confrontation. Note also the fact that Peter spoke “many other words” not recorded here. What can I learn about Christian communication through this?

    Acts 2:37-40

    • Reflect on their dilemma in v. 37—“Brothers, what shall we do?”—and the promise of v. 39. Consider the extent of relief and gratitude that those who were “cut to the heart” must have felt at the offer of forgiveness. What can I learn about repentance through this?
  • Prayer
August 14, 2019

Acts 2 – 2019-08-14

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  • CHAPTER 2 COMMENTARY

    v.2-4: “The coming of the Spirit is described in three carefully constructed parallel statements, each pointing to an aspect of the even: a sound came…and it filled the house (v.2); tongues appeared…and one sat on each of them (v.3); they were filled with the Holy Spirit…and began to speak in other tongues (v.4). The emphasis is on the objectivity of the event.  It was audible, visible, and manifested itself in an outward demonstration of inspired speech.”[1]

    Two things happened to the disciples after the Spirit came: They ‘were filled with the Holy Spirit’ and ‘began to speak in other tongues’ (v.4).  The ‘tongues’ are different from those described in 1 Corinthians 12-14 because, unlike there, ‘God-fearing Jews’ from the Diaspora were able to understand what was being said.  They exclaimed, ‘We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ (Acts 2:11)…  At the start of what may be called ‘the era of the Spirit,’ he assisted in the work of witness in a way that depicts the gospel going to the ends of the earth.  The sign fit in with the Spirit’s role in enabling the church’s worldwide witness (Acts 1:8).  As a result, about three thousand people were ‘added to their number that day’ (2:41).”[2]

    v.12-13: “The miraculous is not self-authenticating, nor does it inevitably and uniformly convince. There must also be the preparation of the heart and the proclamation of the message if miracles are to accomplish their full purpose.[3]

    “Pentecost also signals the breaking of barriers that have separated the human race since Babel, with the formation of a new humanity in Christ.  In other words Pentecost reverses what happened at Babel.   […]  Moreover, people no longer need to build up to the heavens in search of the significance they lost when they were thrown out of the garden of Eden.  God has now sent his Spirit down to us and lifted our experience to a new level of significance. ‘Babel and Eden are not ’undone’ as much as they are redeemed and their negative effects nullified.’”[4]

    v.24-28: “The resurrection occupies nine verses of Peter’s sermon.  The language of verse 24 is graphic.  The bible often refers to the resurrection as an act of God (‘God raised him’), which is in keeping with the fact that it was God’s accreditation of the person and work of Christ […] The next statement, ‘It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him,’ clearly shows that Peter is using the resurrection as a validation of Jesus’ life and ministry.  Because he is Messiah, he cannot remain dead.  G. Bertram describes beautifully what Peter is saying: ‘The abyss can no more hold the Redeemer than a pregnant woman can hold the child in her body.’

    In verses 25-28 Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11, where David anticipates a resurrection.  Then he goes on to argue that, since David did not rise from the dead, this passage must be referring to David’s great Son, Jesus.  Longenecker explains how the apostles followed the exegetical precedent set by Jesus in interpreting Psalm 110 as a messianic psalm (cf. Mark 12:35-37) as well as Psalm 16 (which as similar phrases)[…] Peter clinches his argument for the resurrection with his claim: ‘We are all witnesses of the fact’ (v.32).”[5]

    v.36: “Peter claims first that Jesus is ‘Lord.’  With the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, the disciples now fully understand the implications of who he is….”[6]

    “His messiahship, acclaimed at his baptism, was confirmed by his resurrection; by it he was ‘designated Son of God in power’ (Rom. 1:4).  But he has been exalted not only as Messiah and Son of God, but as Lord.  The first apostolic sermon concludes with the first apostolic creed: ‘Jesus is Lord’ (cf. Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11) – ‘Lord’ not only as a bearer of a courtesy title but as bearer of ‘the name which is above every name’ (Phil. 2:9).  To a Jew there was only one name ‘above every name’ – the ineffable name of the God of Israel […] That the early Christians meant to give Jesus the title ‘Lord’ in this highest sense of all is indicated by their not hesitating on occasion to apply to him passages of Old Testament scripture referring to Yahweh.  Indeed, in this very context it may well be that the promise of Joel 2:32, ‘all who call on Yahweh’s name shall be delivered,’ is viewed as being fulfilled in those members of Peter’s audience who repentantly invoke Jesus as Lord.”[7]

    [1] John B. Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 97.

    [2] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 87-88.

    [3] Expositor’s Bible Commentary, New Testament. Acts. Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen.Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976-1992).

    [4] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 90-91.

    [5] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 103.

    [6] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 105-106.

    [7] F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 68.

  • Bible Text: Acts 2:1-13 (ESV)1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

    5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews andproselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

  • Study Questions:
  • Acts 2:5-13
    • Consider this picture of “men from every nation under heaven” (v. 5) listening to the disciples declaring “the mighty works of God” (v. 11) in their own languages. What does this dissolving of communication barriers signify regarding the mission of the newly Spirit-filled believers?
    • What words describe the various responses of the listeners to this event? What are some parallels to the range of modern-day responses to the preaching of the gospel?

    Acts 2:1-13

    • In what ways does this passage challenge me, resonate with parts of my own story, or identify where I am today?
  • Prayer
August 13, 2019

Acts 1 – 2019-08-13

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  • Bible Text: Acts 1:12-26 (ESV)

    12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

    15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

    “‘May his camp become desolate,
    and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

    and

    “‘Let another take his office.’

    21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

  • Study Questions:Acts 1:12-26
    • Consider Peter’s wisdom in dealing squarely with the painful issue of Judas. What can I learn from the interaction in this text between prayer, Peter’s leadership, scripture and God’s guidance?
    • Reflect on the tragedy of Judas, especially as highlighted in verses 17 and 25. Think of what Judas had, and the act of his turning aside to “go to his own place.” What are the parallels, warnings, or lessons for me as a follower of Jesus who has also received a “share in this ministry”?
  • Prayer
August 12, 2019

Acts 1 – 2019-08-12

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  • CHAPTER 1 Commentary
    Introduction to the Book of Acts

    “Some scholars have regarded Acts as the most important book in the New Testament, or at least as its pivotal book, coming as it does between the Gospels and the letters.  It records the origin and growth of the Christian movement, telling us how the first believers lived out Christianity.  It describes its message and ministry, and its life – including its triumphs and trials, the passions that drove it, and the source of the power that energized it.  Any Christian wanting to know how to be a disciple of Christ in this world should turn to Acts to know how the first Christians lived.”[1]

    “Contemporary Christians who read Acts with an open mind will find themselves challenged with pointed applications by what happened in the early church.

    • To a society where individualism reigns and where the church also seems to have adopted a style of community life that “guards the privacy of the individual,” the early church presents a radical community where members held all things in common.
    • To a society where selfishness is sometimes admired and each one is left to fend for himself or herself, Acts presents a group of Christians who were so committed to Christ and the cause of the gospel that they were willing to sacrifice their desires for the good of others.
    • To a society where pluralism defines truth as something subjective and personal, Acts presents a church that based its life on certain objective facts about God and Christ – facts that were not only personally true but also universally valid and therefore had to be presented to the entire world.
    • To a society that denies absolute truth and therefore shuns apologetics and persuasion in evangelism in favor of dialogue, Acts presents a church that persuaded people until they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. Instead of aiming at mutual enrichment as the main aim of interreligious encounter, as many do today, the early church proclaimed Christ as supreme Lord with conversion in view.
    • In an age when many churches spend so much time, money, and energy on self-preservation and improvement, Acts presents churches that released their most capable people for reaching the lost.
    • In an age where many churches look to excellence in techniques to bring success, Acts presents a church that depended on the Holy Spirit and gave top priority to prayer and moral purity.
    • In an age when many avenues are available to avoid suffering and therefore many Christians have left out suffering from their understanding of the Christian life, Acts presents a church that took on suffering for the cause of Christ and considered it a basic ingredient of discipleship.”[2]

    v.1: The author of Acts, Luke, refers to his “former book”, the gospel of Luke.  The books of Luke and Acts are considered by scholars to be actually one book entitled “Luke-Acts”.

    “Theophilus means “friend of God” or “loved by God,” but it is unlikely, as some (e.g. Origen) have suggested, that this name is a symbol for an anonymous person or group of people.  This particular name was in use at that time, and the description of Theophilus as “most excellent” (Luke 1:3) suggests that a real person is meant.”[3]

    v.3: “Luke then reports that Jesus’ appearances were proof of his resurrection (v.3a). The objective reality of the resurrection was the ultimate proof of the amazing claims that the apostles were to make about Jesus (Acts 17:31).  The fact that the apostles were witnesses to this resurrection was a key to their preaching.  So right at the start of his book, Luke presents the resurrection as an event attested by ‘many convincing proofs.’”[4]

    “Over a period of forty days between his resurrection and ascension Jesus appeared at intervals to his apostles and other followers in a manner which could leave no doubt in their minds that he was really alive again, risen from the dead.  The most primitive and comprehensive list of these appearances is that given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, although the Gospel narratives indicate that even Paul’s list is not exhaustive.”[5]

    v.6: “It must have saddened the heart of Jesus to hear his disciples ask about the time of restoring the kingdom to Israel (v.6).  He had taught them about the kingdom of God, but they talk about the kingdom of Israel.  John Stott points out that the verb, the noun and the adverb of their sentence all betray doctrinal confusion about the kingdom.  The verb restore shows that they were expecting political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment.”[6]

    v.7-8: The disciples were to be the true, “restored” Israel, fulfilling its mission to be a “light for the Gentiles” so that God’s salvation might reach “to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6).

    The geographical scope of Acts 1:8 provides a rough outline of the entire book: Jerusalem (1-7), Judea and Samaria (8-12), the ends of the earth (13-28).  As such it can be considered the “theme” verse of Acts[…] [7]

    v.21-22: “Peter laid down the qualifications for Judas’ replacement.  He had to be one who had witnessed the entire ministry of Jesus from the time of baptism by John to the ascension.  Above all he had to have witnessed the resurrection appearances.  Here we have the basic understanding of the apostles’ role in Acts.  They were primarily ‘witnesses’ to Jesus, eyewitnesses who could share his teaching and confirm his resurrection and ascension.  As such, the role of apostle was limited to the Twelve.  It was a unique, irreplaceable office (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14).  There could be no apostolic succession, since there were no further eyewitnesses to succeed them.  …

    Luke 22:28-30 speaks of the apostles’ unique role of sitting in the kingdom and judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Their number corresponds to the tribes of Israel, for in a real sense they represent the restored Israel, the people of God.  The continuity with Israel necessitates the restoration of the full number of twelve.[8]

    [1] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 21.

    [2] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 40-41.

    [3] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 50

    [4] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 50.

    [5] F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 31.

    [6] Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 51-52.

    [7] John B. Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 84-86.

    [8] John B. Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 93-94.

  • Bible Text: Acts 1:1-11 (ESV)

    1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

    4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

    6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

  • Study Questions:Acts 1:3
    • Reflect on what this period with Jesus must have been like for the disciples.

    Acts 1:6-8

    • In the exchange between the apostles and Jesus, note the difference in scope between their perspectives. In what ways has walking with Christ enlarged the scope of my life?

    Acts 1:1-11

    • What is the primary role of the Holy Spirit’s coming?
    • Who are the people in my spheres of influence to whom Jesus is sending me as his witness?
  • Prayer
August 9, 2019

Proverbs 31 – 2019-08-09

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  • Bible Text & Personal Reflection: Read today’s proverbs and notice repeated words and phrases, images, or metaphors. What themes emerge? Consider the wisdom, truths, and lessons about life, the gospel, or Christian life. Engage in personal reflection and respond to how God is using these proverbs to speak to you today. Afterwards, choose one key proverb for the day, and spend a few minutes committing it to memory!
  • Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV)

    10  An excellent wife who can find?

    She is far more precious than jewels.

    11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,

    and he will have no lack of gain.

    12 She does him good, and not harm,

    all the days of her life.

    13 She seeks wool and flax,

    and works with willing hands.

    14 She is like the ships of the merchant;

    she brings her food from afar.

    15 She rises while it is yet night

    and provides food for her household

    and portions for her maidens.

    16 She considers a field and buys it;

    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

    17 She dresses herself with strength

    and makes her arms strong.

    18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

    Her lamp does not go out at night.

    19 She puts her hands to the distaff,

    and her hands hold the spindle.

    20 She opens her hand to the poor

    and reaches out her hands to the needy.

    21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,

    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

    22 She makes bed coverings for herself;

    her clothing is fine linen and purple.

    23 Her husband is known in the gates

    when he sits among the elders of the land.

    24 She makes linen garments and sells them;

    she delivers sashes to the merchant.

    25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,

    and she laughs at the time to come.

    26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,

    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

    27 She looks well to the ways of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

    28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

    29 “Many women have done excellently,

    but you surpass them all.”

    30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

    31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,

    and let her works praise her in the gates.

  • Prayer
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