This is Episode #321 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 11-13 together. And they glorified God, saying, “So then, God has given repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles.”
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #321 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 11-13 together. And they glorified God, saying, “So then, God has given repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles.”
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Acts Chapter 11
Gentile Salvation Defended
The apostles and the brothers and sisters who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Peter began to explain to them step by step, “I was in the town of Joppa praying, and I saw, in a trance, an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners from heaven, and it came to me. When I looked closely and considered it, I saw the four-footed animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. I also heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’
“‘No, Lord! ’ I said. ‘For nothing impure or ritually unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a voice answered from heaven a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call impure.’
“Now this happened three times, and everything was drawn up again into heaven. At that very moment, three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to accompany them with no doubts at all. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we went into the man’s house. He reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa, and call for Simon, who is also named Peter. He will speak a message to you by which you and all your household will be saved.’
God Gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles
“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning. I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If, then, God gave them the same gift that he also gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God?”
When they heard this they became silent. And they glorified God, saying, “So then, God has given repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles.”
The Church in Antioch
Now those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.
But there were some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. News about them reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And large numbers of people were added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.
In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the reign of Claudius. Each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers and sisters who lived in Judea. They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.
Acts Chapter 12
James Martyred and Peter Jailed
About that time King Herod violently attacked some who belonged to the church, and he executed James, John’s brother, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After the arrest, he put him in prison and assigned four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying fervently to God for him.
When Herod was about to bring him out for trial, that very night Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while the sentries in front of the door guarded the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, “Quick, get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. “Get dressed,” the angel told him, “and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Wrap your cloak around you,” he told him, “and follow me.”
So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what the angel did was really happening, but he thought he was seeing a vision. After they passed the first and second guards, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and suddenly the angel left him.
When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected.” As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many had assembled and were praying. He knocked at the door of the outer gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. She recognized Peter’s voice, and because of her joy, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the outer gate.
“You’re out of your mind!” they told her. But she kept insisting that it was true, and they said, “It’s his angel.” Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.
Motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. “Tell these things to James and the brothers,” he said, and he left and went to another place.
At daylight, there was a great commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had searched and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution. Then Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. Together they presented themselves before him. After winning over Blastus, who was in charge of the king’s bedroom, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food from the king’s country. On an appointed day, dressed in royal robes and seated on the throne, Herod delivered a speech to them. The assembled people began to shout, “It’s the voice of a god and not of a man!” At once an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died.
But the word of God spread and multiplied. After they had completed their relief mission, Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, taking along John who was called Mark.
Acts Chapter 13
Preparing for the Mission Field
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
The Mission to Cyprus
So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant. When they had traveled the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (that is the meaning of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
But Saul — also called Paul — filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at Elymas and said, “You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery, you son of the devil and enemy of all that is right. Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? Now, look, the Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time.” Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
Then, when he saw what happened, the proconsul believed, because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Paul’s Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia
Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John left them and went back to Jerusalem. They continued their journey from Perga and reached Pisidian Antioch.On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”
Paul stood up and motioned with his hand and said, “Fellow Israelites, and you who fear God, listen! The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors, made the people prosper during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty arm. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness; and after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. This all took about 450 years. After this, he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.
After removing him, he raised up David as their king and testified about him, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my will.’
Descendant of David
“From this man’s descendants, as he promised, God brought to Israel the Savior, Jesus. Before his coming to public attention, John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. Now as John was completing his mission, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not the one. But one is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.’
“Brothers and sisters, children of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God, it is to us that the word of this salvation has been sent. Since the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him or the sayings of the prophets that are read every Sabbath,they have fulfilled their words by condemning him. Though they found no grounds for the death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him killed.
“When they had carried out all that had been written about him, they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and he appeared for many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm:
You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
As to his raising him from the dead,never to return to decay, he has spoken in this way, I will give you the holy and sure promises of David. Therefore he also says in another passage, You will not let your Holy One see decay. For David, after serving God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed, but the one God raised up did not decay. Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers and sisters, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you. Everyone who believes is justified through him from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
Look, you scoffers,
marvel and vanish away,
because I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will never believe,
even if someone were to explain it to you.”
Paul and Barnabas in Antioch
As they were leaving, the people urged them to speak about these matters the following Sabbath. After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and urging them to continue in the grace of God.
The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him.
Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
I have made you
a light for the Gentiles
to bring salvation
to the ends of the earth.”
When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
This is the story we touched on yesterday. The Jerusalem elders were not pleased with Peter. They hissed at him. They pointed that accusing finger at the report that he had eaten wlth Gentiles! But in the end, there was no denying that God was at work here.
I never fail to laugh out loud when I read the account of Rhoda. Here’s Peter, absolutely aware that he had been miraculously sprung from jail, but no doubt looking-over-his-shoulder nervously, thinking that he would be recaptured any minute. I always envision him patiently, quietly, but urgently knocking at the door. Rhoda? Rhoda! Why aren’t you opening the door?! I do believe she had just discovered in an undeniable way that there is power in prayer!
Let’s pray. Oh, Father, there is indeed power in prayer. Help us always to be like that widow and the judge. Not nagging You perhaps, but before You often; continually. And help us to do it together, that fragrant offering of the prayers of the saints that You love so much. We want to be faithful in that, Holy Spirit. Help us to do so. Amen.
What’s the first experience from your life that comes to mind when you think of the power of prayer? Tell me at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will be changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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