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Highlights for the Reading of the Bible: Acts of Apostles
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF Acts of Apostles
Acts of Apostles
*** it-1 pp. 42-44 Acts of Apostles ***This is the title by which one of the Bible books has been called since the second century C.E. It covers primarily the activity of Peter and Paul, rather than that of all the apostles in general; and it provides us with a most reliable and comprehensive history of the spectacular beginning and rapid development of the Christian organization, first among the Jews and then among the Samaritans and the Gentile nations.
The overriding theme of the entire Bible, Jehovah’s Kingdom, dominates the book (Ac 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:31), and we are constantly reminded of how the apostles bore "thorough witness" concerning Christ and that Kingdom and fully accomplished their ministry. (2:40; 5:42; 8:25; 10:42; 20:21, 24; 23:11; 26:22; 28:23) The book also provides a superb historical background against which to view the inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
The Writer. The opening words of Acts refer to the Gospel of Luke as "the first account." And since both accounts are addressed to the same individual, Theophilus, we know that Luke, though not signing his name, was the writer of Acts. (Lu 1:3; Ac 1:1) Both accounts have a similar style and wording. The Muratorian Fragment of the late second century C.E. also attributes the writership to Luke. Ecclesiastical writings of the second century C.E. by Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian of Carthage, when quoting from Acts, cite Luke as the writer.
When and Where Written. The book covers a period of approximately 28 years, from Jesus’ ascension in 33 C.E. to the end of the second year of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome about 61 C.E. During this period four Roman emperors ruled in succession: Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. Since it relates events through the second year of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, it could not have been completed earlier. Had the account been written later, it is reasonable to expect that Luke would have provided more information about Paul; if written after the year 64 C.E., mention surely would have been made of Nero’s violent persecution that began then; and if written after 70 C.E., as some contend, we would expect to find Jerusalem’s destruction recorded.
The writer Luke accompanied Paul much of the time during his travels, including the perilous voyage to Rome, which is apparent from his use of the first-person plural pronouns "we," "our," and "us" in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-37; 28:1-16. Paul, in his letters written from Rome, mentions that Luke was also there. (Col 4:14; Phm 24) It was, therefore, in Rome that the writing of the book of Acts was completed.
As already observed, Luke himself was an eyewitness to much of what he wrote, and in his travels he contacted fellow Christians who either participated in or observed certain events described. For example, John Mark could tell him of Peter’s miraculous prison release (Ac 12:12), while the events described in chapters 6 and 8 could have been learned from the missionary Philip. And Paul, of course, as an eyewitness, was able to supply many details of events that happened when Luke was not with him.
Authenticity. The accuracy of the book of Acts has been verified over the years by a number of archaeological discoveries. For example, Acts 13:7 says that Sergius Paulus was the proconsul of Cyprus. Now it is known that shortly before Paul visited Cyprus it was ruled by a propraetor, or legate, but an inscription found in Cyprus proves that the island did come under the direct rule of the Roman Senate in the person of a provincial governor called a proconsul. Similarly in Greece, during the rule of Augustus Caesar, Achaia was a province under the direct rule of the Roman Senate, but when Tiberius was emperor it was ruled directly by him. Later, under Emperor Claudius, it again became a senatorial province, according to Tacitus. A fragment of a rescript from Claudius to the Delphians of Greece has been discovered, which refers to Gallio’s proconsulship. Therefore, Acts 18:12 is correct in speaking of Gallio as the "proconsul" when Paul was there in Corinth, the capital of Achaia. (See GALLIO.) Also, an inscription on an archway in Thessalonica (fragments of which are preserved in the British Museum) shows that Acts 17:8 is correct in speaking of "the city rulers" ("politarchs," governors of the citizens), even though this title is not found in classical literature.
To this day in Athens the Areopagus, or Mars’ Hill, where Paul preached, stands as a silent witness to the truthfulness of Acts. (Ac 17:19) Medical terms and expressions found in Acts are in agreement with the Greek medical writers of that time. Modes of travel used in the Middle East in the first century were essentially as described in Acts: overland, by walking, horseback, or horse-drawn chariots (23:24, 31, 32; 8:27-38); overseas, by cargo ships. (21:1-3; 27:1-5) Those ancient vessels did not have a single rudder but were controlled by two large oars, hence accurately spoken of in the plural number. (27:40) The description of Paul’s voyage by ship to Rome (27:1-44) as to the time taken, the distance traveled, and the places visited is acknowledged by modern seamen familiar with the region as completely reliable and trustworthy.
Acts of Apostles was accepted without question as inspired Scripture and canonical by Scripture catalogers from the second through the fourth centuries C.E. Portions of the book, along with fragments of the four Gospels, are found in the Chester Beatty No. 1 papyrus manuscript (P45) of the third century C.E. The Michigan No. 1571 manuscript (P38) of the third or fourth century contains portions of chapters 18 and 19, and a fourth-century manuscript, Aegyptus No. 8683 (P8), contains parts of chapters 4 through 6. The book of Acts was quoted from by Polycarp of Smyrna about 115 C.E., by Ignatius of Antioch about 110 C.E., and by Clement of Rome perhaps as early as 95 C.E. Athanasius, Jerome, and Augustine of the fourth century all confirm the earlier listings that included Acts.
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HIGHLIGHTS OF ACTSThe beginning of the Christian congregation and a record of its zealous public witnessing in the face of fierce opposition
Time covered: 33 to c. 61 C.E.
Before ascending to heaven, Jesus commissions followers to be witnesses of him as Jehovah’s Messiah (1:1-26)
After receiving holy spirit, disciples boldly witness in many languages (2:1–5:42)
Jews in Jerusalem from many lands are given witness in their own languages; about 3,000 baptized
Peter and John are arrested and taken before Sanhedrin; fearlessly declare they will not stop witnessing
Filled with holy spirit, all the disciples speak the word of God boldly; multitudes become believers
Apostles are arrested; an angel releases them; brought before the Sanhedrin, they declare: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men"
Persecution results in expansion of the witness (6:1–9:43)
Stephen is seized, gives fearless witness, dies a martyr
Persecution scatters all but apostles; witness given in Samaria; Ethiopian eunuch baptized
Jesus appears to the persecutor Saul; Saul is converted, baptized, begins zealous ministry
Under divine direction the witness reaches uncircumcised Gentiles (10:1–12:25)
Peter preaches to Cornelius, his family, and his friends; these believe, receive holy spirit, and are baptized
Apostle’s report of this prompts further expansion among nations
Paul’s evangelizing tours (13:1–21:26)
First tour: To Cyprus, Asia Minor. Paul and Barnabas boldly witness publicly and in synagogues; thrown out of Antioch; mobbed in Iconium; first treated like gods in Lystra, then Paul is stoned
Circumcision issue decided by governing body at Jerusalem; Paul and Barnabas assigned to inform brothers that circumcision is not required but that believers must abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from fornication
Second tour: Back through Asia Minor, into Macedonia and Greece. Imprisoned in Philippi, but jailer and his family get baptized; Jews stir up trouble in Thessalonica and Beroea; in Athens, Paul preaches in synagogue, in the marketplace, then on the Areopagus; 18-month ministry in Corinth
Third tour: Asia Minor, Greece. Fruitful Ephesian ministry, then uproar by silversmiths; apostle admonishes elders
Paul is arrested, witnesses to officials, is taken to Rome (21:27–28:31)
After mobbing in Jerusalem, Paul before Sanhedrin
As prisoner, Paul gives fearless witness before Felix, Festus, and King Herod Agrippa II, also on boat en route to Rome
A prisoner in Rome, Paul continues to find ways to preach about Christ and the Kingdom
Zealous Witnesses of Jehovah on the March!*** w90 5/15 pp. 24-26 Zealous Witnesses of Jehovah on the March! ***
JEHOVAH’S first-century witnesses were a people of bold and zealous action. They eagerly carried out Jesus’ commission: "Go . . . make disciples of people of all the nations."—Matthew 28:19, 20.
But how do we know that Christ’s early followers took that commission seriously? Why, the Bible book Acts of Apostles proves that they were zealous witnesses of Jehovah, truly on the march!
BENEFITS AND OTHER FEATURESSimilarity in language and style between the third Gospel and the book of Acts indicates one writer—Luke, "the beloved physician." (Colossians 4:14) Among its unique features are the conversations and prayers preserved in Acts. About 20 percent of the book consists of speeches, such as those given by Peter and Paul in support of the true faith.
The book of Acts was written in Rome about 61 C.E. Apparently that is why it does not mention Paul’s appearance before Caesar or the persecution Nero waged against Christians about 64 C.E.—2 Timothy 4:11.
Like Luke’s Gospel, Acts was directed to Theophilus. It was written to bolster faith and report on the spread of Christianity. (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1, 2) The book proves that Jehovah’s hand was with his loyal servants. It makes us aware of the power of his spirit and strengthens our confidence in divinely inspired prophecy. Acts also helps us to endure persecution, moves us to be self-sacrificing Witnesses of Jehovah, and builds up our faith in the Kingdom hope.
HISTORICAL ACCURACYAs Paul’s associate, Luke recorded their travels. He also spoke to eyewitnesses. These factors and thorough research make his writings a masterpiece as far as historical accuracy is concerned.
Scholar William Ramsay could therefore say: "Luke is a historian of the first rank: not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians."
PETER—A FAITHFUL WITNESSThe God-given work of declaring the good news can be carried out only in the power of Jehovah’s holy spirit. Thus, when Jesus’ followers receive holy spirit, they will become his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and "to the most distant part of the earth." At Pentecost 33 C.E., they are filled with holy spirit. Since it is only 9:00 a.m., they surely are not drunk, as some think. Peter gives a thrilling witness, and 3,000 are baptized. Religious opposers try to silence Kingdom proclaimers, but in answer to prayer, God enables his witnesses to speak his word with boldness. Threatened again, they respond: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men." The work goes on as they continue to preach from house to house.—1:1–5:42.
Reliance on Jehovah’s spirit enables his witnesses to endure persecution. Hence, after the faithful witness Stephen is stoned to death, Jesus’ followers are scattered, but this only spreads the word. Philip the evangelizer pioneers in Samaria. Surprisingly, the violent persecutor Saul of Tarsus is converted. As the apostle Paul, he feels the heat of persecution in Damascus but escapes the Jews’ murderous designs. Briefly, Paul associates with the apostles in Jerusalem and then moves on in his ministry.—6:1–9:31.
Jehovah’s hand is with his witnesses, as Acts goes on to show. Peter raises Dorcas (Tabitha) from the dead. Responding to a call, in Caesarea he declares the good news to Cornelius, his household, and friends. They are baptized as the first Gentiles to become Jesus’ disciples. The "seventy weeks" thus end, bringing us to 36 C.E. (Daniel 9:24) Shortly thereafter, Herod Agrippa I executes the apostle James and has Peter arrested. But the apostle experiences angelic deliverance from prison, and ‘the word of Jehovah goes on growing and spreading.’—9:32–12:25.
PAUL’S THREE MISSIONARY TOURSBlessings flow to those who expend themselves in God’s service, as Paul did. His first missionary tour begins at Antioch, Syria. On the island of Cyprus, the proconsul Sergius Paulus and many others become believers. At Perga in Pamphylia, John Mark departs for Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas press on to Antioch in Pisidia. In Lystra, Jews foment persecution. Though stoned and left for dead, Paul recovers and carries on in the ministry. Finally, he and Barnabas return to Antioch in Syria, ending the first tour.—13:1–14:28.
Like its first-century counterpart, today’s Governing Body resolves questions with guidance by the holy spirit. Circumcision was not among the "necessary things," which include "abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication." (15:28, 29) As Paul begins a second missionary tour, Silas accompanies him, and they are later joined by Timothy. Prompt action follows a call to step over into Macedonia. At Philippi, witnessing results in an uproar and imprisonment. But Paul and Silas are released by an earthquake and preach to the jailer and his household, and these become baptized believers.—15:1–16:40.
Jehovah’s servants should be diligent students of his Word, like Paul and the Scripture-searching Beroeans. On the Areopagus in Athens, he gives a witness about Jehovah’s creatorship, and some become believers. So much interest is manifested in Corinth that he remains in that city for 18 months. While there, he writes First and Second Thessalonians. Parting company with Silas and Timothy, the apostle sails to Ephesus, then embarks for Caesarea, and travels on to Jerusalem. When he returns to Syrian Antioch, his second missionary tour has ended.—17:1–18:22.
As Paul showed, house-to-house witnessing is a vital part of the Christian ministry. The apostle’s third tour (52-56 C.E.) largely retraces his second journey. Paul’s ministry stirs up opposition at Ephesus, where he writes First Corinthians. Second Corinthians is written in Macedonia, and he writes to the Romans while in Corinth. At Miletus, Paul meets with the elders of Ephesus and speaks of how he taught them publicly and from house to house. His third tour ends upon his arrival in Jerusalem.—18:23–21:14.
PERSECUTION INEFFECTIVEPersecution does not seal the lips of Jehovah’s faithful witnesses. So when mob violence breaks out against Paul at the temple in Jerusalem, he boldly witnesses to the seething rioters. A plot to murder him is frustrated when he is sent to Governor Felix at Caesarea with a military guard. Paul is kept in bonds for two years as Felix holds out for a bribe that never comes. His successor, Festus, hears Paul appeal to Caesar. Before heading for Rome, however, the apostle makes a stirring defense before King Agrippa.—21:15–26:32.
Undaunted by trials, Jehovah’s servants keep on preaching. This surely was true of Paul. Because of his appeal to Caesar, the apostle sets out for Rome with Luke about 58 C.E. At Myra in Lycia, they transfer to another ship. Though they are shipwrecked and land on the island of Malta, later another vessel takes them to Italy. Even under military guard in Rome, Paul calls people in and declares the good news to them. During this imprisonment, he writes to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, Philemon, and the Hebrews.—27:1–28:31.
EVER ON THE MARCHThe book of Acts demonstrates that the work begun by God’s Son was carried on in faithfulness by Jehovah’s witnesses of the first century. Yes, under the power of God’s holy spirit, they witnessed zealously.
Because Jesus’ early followers prayerfully relied on God, His hand was with them. Thousands thus became believers, and ‘the good news was preached in all creation under heaven.’ (Colossians 1:23) Indeed, both then and now, true Christians have proved to be zealous witnesses of Jehovah on the march!
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CORNELIUS THE CENTURION: Cornelius was an army officer, or a centurion. (10:1) A centurion’s annual wages were about five times those of an infantryman, or some 1,200 denarii, but could be much higher. Upon retirement, he received a grant in money or land. His military attire was colorful, from a silver helmet to a kiltlike garment, a fine woolen cloak, and decorated greaves. A centurion’s company theoretically consisted of 100 men, but at times there were only 80 or so. Recruits for "the Italian band" apparently came from among Roman citizens and freedmen in Italy.
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PRAYER ON A HOUSETOP: Peter was not being ostentatious when he prayed alone on the rooftop. (10:9) A parapet around the flat roof likely hid him from view. (Deuteronomy 22:8) The roof was also a place to relax and escape street noise in the evening.
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SUPPOSED GODS IN HUMAN FORM: Paul’s healing of a lame man made residents of Lystra think that gods had appeared as men. (14:8-18) Zeus, the chief Greek god, had a temple at that city, and his son Hermes, the messenger of the gods, was noted for eloquence. Since the people thought that Paul was Hermes because he took the lead in speaking, they viewed Barnabas as Zeus. It was customary to crown false-god idols with garlands of flowers or of leaves of cypress or pine, but Paul and Barnabas rejected such idolatrous treatment.
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THE JAILER BELIEVES: When an earthquake opened the prison doors and loosened the bonds of the inmates, the Philippian jailer was going to do away with himself. (16:25-27) Why? Because Roman law decreed that a jailer was to suffer an escapee’s penalty. The jailer apparently preferred to die a suicide rather than experience death by torture, which probably awaited some of the prisoners. However, he accepted the good news, and "he and his were baptized without delay."—16:28-34.
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AN APPEAL TO CAESAR: As a Roman citizen from birth, Paul had the right to appeal to Caesar and be tried in Rome. (25:10-12) A Roman citizen was not to be bound, scourged, or punished without a trial.—16:35-40; 22:22-29; 26:32.
Musei Capitolini, Roma
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TEMPLE KEEPER OF ARTEMIS: Upset over Paul’s preaching, the silversmith Demetrius incited a riot. But the city recorder dispersed the crowd. (19:23-41) The silversmiths made small silver shrines of the most sacred part of the temple in which the statue of the many-breasted fertility goddess Artemis was located. Cities competed with one another for the honor of being her ne•o•ko′ros, or "temple keeper."
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TROUBLE AT SEA: When the ship carrying Paul was battered by the tempestuous wind called Euroaquilo, ‘they were hardly able to get possession of the skiff at the stern.’ (27:15, 16) The skiff was a small boat that was usually towed by a vessel. A ship carried cables that could be passed around the hull to undergird it and spare it strain caused by the working of the mast during storms. (27:17) These mariners cast out four anchors and loosened the lashings of the rudder oars, or paddles, used to steer the vessel. (27:29, 40) The ship of Alexandria had the figurehead "Sons of Zeus"—Castor and Pollux, regarded as patrons of sailors.—28:11.
Jehovah Is Our Ruler!*** w90 6/1 pp. 10-15 Jehovah Is Our Ruler! ***
"We must obey God as ruler rather than men."—ACTS 5:29.
JEHOVAH GOD had allowed 12 men to be taken before a high court. The year was 33 C.E., and the court was the Jewish Sanhedrin. On trial were the apostles of Jesus Christ. Listen! ‘We ordered you not to teach on the basis of this name,’ says the high priest, ‘but you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.’ At that, Peter and the other apostles declare: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men." (Acts 5:27-29) In effect, they said: "Jehovah is our Ruler!"
2 Yes, Jehovah is the Ruler of Jesus’ true followers. This is made clear in the Bible book Acts of Apostles, penned in Rome about 61 C.E. by "Luke the beloved physician." (Colossians 4:14) Like the apostles, Jehovah’s people today obey their heavenly Ruler when human demands conflict with his will. But what else can we learn from Acts? (In personal study, we suggest that you read the portions of the book specified in boldface citations.)
Jesus Commissions Witnesses3 The apostles could take a firm stand for God because they had been strengthened spiritually. Christ died on a torture stake, but they knew that he had been resurrected. (1:1-5) Jesus "showed himself alive" and taught Kingdom truths in materialized bodies throughout 40 days. He also told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for baptism "in holy spirit." Preaching would then be their prime concern, as it is for Jehovah’s Witnesses today.—Luke 24:27, 49; John 20:19–21:24.
4 Not yet baptized in holy spirit, the apostles wrongly thought of earthly rule to end Roman domination when they asked: "Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" (1:6-8) In effect, Jesus said no, for ‘it did not belong to them to know the times and seasons.’ ‘When the holy spirit arrived upon them,’ it would empower them to witness about God’s heavenly Kingdom, not one on this earth. They would preach in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, "and to the most distant part of the earth." With the spirit’s help, Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing such work on a globe-encircling scale in these last days.
5 Jesus had just issued that worldwide preaching commission when he began to ascend to heaven. That ascension started with upward movement away from his disciples, and later Jesus entered into his heavenly Ruler’s presence and into activity in the spirit realm. (1:9-11) After a cloud obscured the apostles’ view of Jesus, he dematerialized his fleshly body. Two angels appeared and said that he ‘would come in the same manner.’ And so it has been. Jesus’ disciples alone saw him depart, even as only Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize his invisible return.
Jehovah Makes a Choice6 Soon the apostles were back in Jerusalem. (1:12-26) In an upper chamber (perhaps in the home of Mark’s mother, Mary), the 11 loyal apostles persisted in prayer with Jesus’ half brothers, his other disciples, and his mother, Mary. (Mark 6:3; James 1:1) But who would receive Judas’ "office of oversight"? (Psalm 109:8) About 120 disciples were present when God chose a man to replace Jesus’ betrayer, Judas, restoring the apostolic number to 12. The choice had to be one who was a disciple during the time of Jesus’ ministry and a witness of his resurrection. Of course, the man also had to acknowledge Jehovah as his Ruler. After prayer, lots were cast over Matthias and Joseph Barsabbas. God made the lot fall upon Matthias.—Proverbs 16:33.
7 Judas Iscariot certainly had not acknowledged Jehovah as his Ruler. Why, he had betrayed God’s Son for 30 pieces of silver! Judas returned that money to the chief priests, but Peter said that the betrayer "purchased a field with the wages for unrighteousness." How so? Well, he provided the money and the reason to buy the "Field of Blood," as it was called. It has been identified with a level plot on the south side of the Valley of Hinnom. His relationship with the heavenly Ruler completely ruined, Judas "hanged himself." (Matthew 27:3-10) Perhaps the rope or tree limb broke, so that he ‘pitched head foremost, noisily bursting in his midst’ when he fell onto jagged rocks. May none of us be a false brother!
Filled With Holy Spirit!8 What about the promised baptism in holy spirit? It occurred at Pentecost 33 C.E., ten days after Jesus’ ascension. (2:1-4) What a thrilling event that baptism was! Imagine the scene. About 120 disciples were in the upper chamber when ‘suddenly from heaven a noise like that of a rushing stiff breeze filled the house.’ It was not a wind, but it sounded like one. A tongue "as if of fire" sat upon each disciple and apostle. "They all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues." When that baptism occurred, they were also begotten by holy spirit, anointed, and sealed in token of a spiritual inheritance.—John 3:3, 5; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; 1 John 2:20.
9 This event affected Jews and proselytes in Jerusalem from ‘every nation under heaven.’ (2:5-13) Amazed, they asked: ‘How is it that each of us is hearing in the language of his birth?’ It might be the tongue of such places as Media (east of Judea), Phrygia (in Asia Minor), and Rome (in Europe). As the disciples spoke in various languages "about the magnificent things of God," many listeners were astonished, but mockers suggested that they were drunk.
Peter Gives a Stirring Witness10 Peter began to witness by showing that nine in the morning was too early to be drunk. (2:14-21) Instead, this event was a fulfillment of God’s promise to pour out holy spirit upon his people. God inspired Peter to point to our time by adding the words "in the last days" and "they will prophesy." (Joel 2:28-32) Jehovah would give portents in heaven and signs on earth before his great day, and only those calling on his name in faith would be saved. Similar outpouring of the spirit upon anointed ones has enabled them to "prophesy" with great vitality and efficiency today.
11 Peter next identified the Messiah. (2:22-28) God attested to Jesus’ Messiahship by enabling him to perform powerful works, signs, and portents. (Hebrews 2:3, 4) But the Jews had him fastened to a stake "by the hand of lawless men," Romans not heeding God’s law. Jesus was "delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God" in that this was the divine will. God resurrected Jesus, however, and disposed of his human body in such a way that it did not experience corruption.—Psalm 16:8-11.
12 Messianic prophecy was further emphasized as Peter’s witness continued. (2:29-36) He said that David foresaw the resurrection of his greatest son, Jesus the Messiah. From an exalted place at God’s right hand in heaven, Jesus had poured out the holy spirit received from his Father. (Psalm 110:1) Peter’s hearers ‘saw and heard’ its operation in observing tongues as if of fire above the disciples’ heads and hearing the foreign languages they spoke. He also showed that salvation depends on acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Messiah.—Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:9-11.
Jehovah Gives the Increase13 How effective Peter’s words were! (2:37-42) His hearers were stabbed to the heart for having consented to Messiah’s execution. So he urged: "Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit." Jews and proselytes already acknowledged Jehovah as God and their need for his spirit. They now needed to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah in order to be baptized in the name (recognizing the office or function) of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit. (Matthew 28:19, 20) By witnessing to those Jews and proselytes, Peter used the first spiritual key Jesus gave him to open the door of knowledge and opportunity for believing Jews to enter the heavenly Kingdom. (Matthew 16:19) On that one day, 3,000 were baptized! Imagine that many witnesses of Jehovah preaching in the small territory of Jerusalem!
14 Many from distant places lacked provisions for an extended stay but desired to learn more about their new faith and preach to others. So Jesus’ early followers lovingly helped one another, even as Jehovah’s Witnesses do today. (2:43-47) Believers temporarily had "all things in common." Some sold property, and the funds were distributed to any in need. This got the congregation off to a fine start as ‘Jehovah joined to them daily those being saved.’
A Healing and Its Results15 Jehovah supported Jesus’ followers by means of "signs." (3:1-10) Thus, as Peter and John entered the temple at 3:00 p.m. for the hour of prayer associated with the evening sacrifice, a man lame from birth was near the Beautiful Gate asking for "gifts of mercy." ‘Silver and gold I do not possess,’ said Peter, ‘but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ The man was healed instantly! As he entered the temple "walking and leaping and praising God," people were ‘filled with ecstasy.’ Perhaps some recalled the words: "The lame one will climb up just as a stag does."—Isaiah 35:6.
16 The surprised people gathered at Solomon’s colonnade, a covered portico on the temple’s eastern side. There Peter gave a witness. (3:11-18) He showed that God empowered the apostles to cure the lame man through His glorified Servant, Jesus. (Isaiah 52:13–53:12) The Jews disowned "that holy and righteous one"; nevertheless, Jehovah resurrected him. Though the people and their rulers did not know that they were putting the Messiah to death, God thus fulfilled prophetic words that "his Christ would suffer."—Daniel 9:26.
17 For their treatment of the Messiah, Peter showed what the Jews should do. (3:19-26) They needed to "repent," or feel remorse over their sins, and "turn around," or be converted, taking an opposite course. If they exercised faith in Jesus as the Messiah, accepting the ransom, refreshment would come to them from Jehovah as those forgiven of sins. (Romans 5:6-11) The Jews were reminded that they were sons of the covenant that God made with their forefathers, telling Abraham: "In your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed." So God first sent his Messianic Servant to deliver repentant Jews. Interestingly, since the ‘sending forth of Christ’ in heavenly Kingdom power in 1914, there has been a refreshing restoration of truths and theocratic organization among Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18.
They Would Not Stop!18 Angry that Peter and John declared Jesus’ resurrection, the chief priests, temple captain, and Sadducees put them in custody. (4:1-12) The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, but many others became believers, the men alone numbering some 5,000. When questioned before Jerusalem’s high court, Peter said that the lame man was cured "in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene," impaled by them but resurrected by God. This "stone" rejected by Jewish "builders" had become "the head of the corner." (Psalm 118:22) "Furthermore," said Peter, "there is no salvation in anyone else."
19 An attempt was made to stop such talk. (4:13-22) With the cured man present, it was impossible to deny this "noteworthy sign," yet Peter and John were charged ‘nowhere to speak or to teach on the basis of Jesus’ name.’ Their reply? ‘We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ They obeyed Jehovah as their Ruler!
Prayers Answered!20 As Jehovah’s Witnesses pray at meetings, so the disciples prayed when the released apostles reported what had happened to them. (4:23-31) It was noted that the rulers Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate, along with Gentile Romans and people of Israel, had gathered together against the Messiah. (Psalm 2:1, 2; Luke 23:1-12) In answer to the prayer, Jehovah filled the disciples with holy spirit, so that they spoke God’s word boldly. Their Ruler was not asked to end persecution but to enable them to preach boldly despite it.
21 Believers continued to have all things in common, and not one was in need. (4:32-37) One contributor was the Levite Joseph of Cyprus. The apostles gave him the surname Barnabas, meaning "Son of Comfort," likely because he was helpful and warmhearted. Surely, all of us want to be that kind of person.—Acts 11:22-24.
Liars Exposed22 Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, however, quit acknowledging Jehovah as their Ruler. (5:1-11) They sold a field and kept some of the money while pretending to give the apostles all of it. Knowledge imparted by God’s spirit enabled Peter to discern their hypocrisy, leading to their death. What a warning to those whom Satan tempts to be devious!—Proverbs 3:32; 6:16-19.
23 After this incident, no one with bad motives had the courage to join the disciples. Others did become believers. (5:12-16) Moreover, as the sick and those troubled with unclean spirits put faith in God’s power, ‘one and all were cured.’
Obey God Rather Than Men24 The high priest and the Sadducees now tried to block the marvelous growth by imprisoning all the apostles. (5:17-25) But that night God’s angel released them. And by daybreak they were teaching in the temple! Persecution cannot stop Jehovah’s servants.
25 Yet, pressure was applied when the apostles were taken before the Sanhedrin. (5:26-42) Ordered to stop teaching, however, they said: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men." This set a standard for Jesus’ disciples, one followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses today. After a warning from the Law teacher Gamaliel, the leaders beat the apostles, ordered them to stop preaching, and released them.
26 The apostles were joyful that they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of Jesus’ name. "And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news." Yes, they were house-to-house ministers. So are God’s modern-day Witnesses, who have also received his spirit because they obey him and say, "Jehovah is our Ruler!"
Jehovah’s People Made Firm in the Faith*** w90 6/15 pp. 10-14 Jehovah’s People Made Firm in the Faith ***
"The congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day."—ACTS 16:5.
JEHOVAH GOD used Saul of Tarsus as "a chosen vessel." As the apostle Paul, he ‘suffered many things.’ But through his work and that of others, Jehovah’s organization enjoyed unity and wonderful expansion.—Acts 9:15, 16.
2 Gentiles were becoming Christians in growing numbers, and a vital meeting of the governing body did much to promote unity among God’s people and make them firm in the faith. It will be highly beneficial to consider these and other developments recorded at Acts 13:1–16:5, for Jehovah’s Witnesses are now experiencing similar growth and spiritual blessings. (Isaiah 60:22) (In private study of the articles on Acts in this issue, we suggest that you read the passages from the book indicated by boldface type.)
Missionaries Go Into Action3 Men sent out by the congregation in Antioch, Syria, helped believers to become firm in the faith. (13:1-5) In Antioch were the "prophets and teachers" Barnabas, Symeon (Niger), Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, and Saul of Tarsus. Prophets explained God’s Word and foretold events, while teachers gave instruction in the Scriptures and in godly living. (1 Corinthians 13:8; 14:4) Barnabas and Saul received a special assignment. Taking along Barnabas’ cousin Mark, they went to Cyprus. (Colossians 4:10) They preached in synagogues in the eastern port of Salamis, but there is no record that the Jews responded well. Since such ones were well-off materially, what need did they have for the Messiah?
4 God blessed other witness work in Cyprus. (13:6-12) At Paphos, the missionaries encountered the Jewish sorcerer and false prophet Bar-Jesus (Elymas). When he tried to prevent Proconsul Sergius Paulus from hearing God’s word, Saul became filled with holy spirit and said: ‘O man full of fraud and villainy, you son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah?’ At that, God’s hand of punishment blinded Elymas for a time, and Sergius Paulus "became a believer, as he was astounded at the teaching of Jehovah."
5 From Cyprus, the party sailed to the city of Perga in Asia Minor. Paul and Barnabas then went northward through mountain passes, likely ‘in dangers from rivers and highwaymen,’ to Antioch, Pisidia. (2 Corinthians 11:25, 26) There Paul spoke in the synagogue. (13:13-41) He reviewed God’s dealings with Israel and identified David’s descendant Jesus as the Savior. Though Jewish rulers had demanded Jesus’ death, the promise to their forefathers was fulfilled when God resurrected him. (Psalm 2:7; 16:10; Isaiah 55:3) Paul warned his hearers not to scorn God’s gift of salvation through Christ.—Habakkuk 1:5, Septuagint.
6 Paul’s speech aroused interest, as do public talks given by Jehovah’s Witnesses today. (13:42-52) The next Sabbath nearly all the city gathered to hear Jehovah’s word, and this filled the Jews with jealousy. Why, in just one week, the missionaries had apparently converted more Gentiles than those Jews had all their life! Since the Jews blasphemously contradicted Paul, it was time for spiritual light to shine elsewhere, and they were told: ‘Since you are thrusting God’s word away and do not judge yourselves worthy of everlasting life, we turn to the nations.’—Isaiah 49:6.
7 Now the Gentiles began to rejoice, and all those rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers. As the word of Jehovah was carried throughout the country, however, the Jews stirred up reputable women (likely to pressure their husbands or others) and principal men to persecute Paul and Barnabas and throw them outside their boundaries. But that did not stop the missionaries. They simply "shook the dust off their feet against them" and went to Iconium (modern Konya), a major city in the Roman province of Galatia. (Luke 9:5; 10:11) Well, what about the disciples left in Pisidian Antioch? Having been made firm in the faith, they "continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit." This helps us to see that opposition need not hamper spiritual progress.
Firm in the Faith Despite Persecution8 Paul and Barnabas themselves proved firm in the faith despite persecution. (14:1-7) In response to their witnessing in the synagogue in Iconium, many Jews and Greeks became believers. When unbelieving Jews incited the Gentiles against the new believers, the two laborers spoke boldly by God’s authority, and he showed his approval by empowering them to perform signs. This split the mob, some being for the Jews and others for the apostles (ones sent forth). The apostles were not cowards, but when they learned of a plot to stone them, they wisely left to preach in Lycaonia, a region of Asia Minor in southern Galatia. By being prudent, we too can often remain active in the ministry despite opposition.—Matthew 10:23.
9 The Lycaonian city of Lystra next got a witness. (14:8-18) There Paul cured a man lame from birth. Not realizing that Jehovah was responsible for the miracle, the crowds cried out: "The gods have become like humans and have come down to us!" As this was said in the Lycaonian tongue, Barnabas and Paul did not know what was occurring. Since Paul took the lead in speaking, the people viewed him as Hermes (the eloquent messenger of the gods) and thought that Barnabas was Zeus, the chief Greek god.
10 The priest of Zeus even brought bulls and garlands in order to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. Likely speaking commonly understood Greek or using an interpreter, the visitors quickly explained that they also were humans with infirmities and that they were declaring the good news so that people would turn from "these vain things" (lifeless gods, or idols) to the living God. (1 Kings 16:13; Psalm 115:3-9; 146:6) Yes, God formerly allowed the nations (but not the Hebrews) to go their own way, though he did not leave himself without witness to his existence and goodness ‘in giving them rains and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts to the full with food and good cheer.’ (Psalm 147:8) Despite such reasoning, Barnabas and Paul scarcely restrained the crowds from sacrificing to them. Yet, the missionaries did not accept homage as gods, nor did they use such authority to found Christianity in that area. A fine example, especially if we are inclined to crave adulation for what Jehovah allows us to accomplish in his service!
11 Suddenly, persecution reared its ugly head. (14:19-28) How so? Persuaded by Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium, the crowds stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. (2 Corinthians 11:24, 25) But when the disciples surrounded him, he rose up and entered Lystra unnoticed, possibly under cover of darkness. The next day, he and Barnabas went to Derbe, where quite a few became disciples. Upon revisiting Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, the missionaries strengthened the disciples, encouraged them to remain in the faith, and said: "We must enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations." As Christians, we also expect to undergo tribulations and should not try to escape them by compromising our faith. (2 Timothy 3:12) At that time, elders were appointed in congregations to which Paul’s letter to the Galatians was written.
12 Going through Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas spoke the word in Perga, a prominent city of Pamphylia. In time, they returned to Antioch, Syria. Paul’s first journey now over, the two missionaries informed the congregation of "the many things God had done by means of them, and that he had opened to the nations the door to faith." Some time was spent with the disciples in Antioch, and this undoubtedly did much to make them firm in the faith. Visits by traveling overseers today have similar spiritual effects.
A Vital Question Is Resolved13 Firmness in the faith called for unity of thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10) If Christianity was not to be split into Hebrew and non-Jewish factions, the governing body needed to decide whether Gentiles streaming into God’s organization had to keep the Mosaic Law and get circumcised. (15:1-5) Certain men from Judea had already traveled to Syrian Antioch and had begun teaching Gentile believers there that unless they got circumcised, they could not be saved. (Exodus 12:48) Hence, Paul, Barnabas, and others were sent to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Even there, believers who had once been legalistically minded Pharisees insisted that Gentiles had to get circumcised and observe the Law.
14 A conference was held to ascertain God’s will. (15:6-11) Yes, disputing took place, but there was no strife as men of strong convictions expressed themselves—a fine example for elders today! In time Peter said: ‘God chose that through my mouth Gentiles [such as Cornelius] should hear the good news and believe. He bore witness by giving them holy spirit and made no distinction between us and them. [Acts 10:44-47] So why are you testing God by imposing a yoke [an obligation to keep the Law] upon their neck that neither we nor our forefathers could bear? We [Jews according to the flesh] trust to get saved through the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus in the same way as those people.’ God’s acceptance of uncircumcised Gentiles showed that circumcision and keeping the Law were not required for salvation.—Galatians 5:1.
15 The congregation became silent when Peter concluded, but more was to be said. (15:12-21) Barnabas and Paul told about the signs God performed through them among the Gentiles. Then the chairman, Jesus’ half brother James, said: ‘Symeon [Peter’s Hebrew name] has related how God turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.’ James indicated that the foretold rebuilding of "the booth of David" (reestablishment of kingship in David’s line) was being fulfilled in the gathering of Jesus’ disciples (Kingdom heirs) from among both Jews and Gentiles. (Amos 9:11, 12, Septuagint; Romans 8:17) Since God purposed this, the disciples should accept it. James advised writing Gentile Christians to abstain from (1) things polluted by idols, (2) fornication, and (3) blood and what is strangled. These prohibitions were in Moses’ writings that were read in synagogues every Sabbath day.—Genesis 9:3, 4; 12:15-17; 35:2, 4.
16 The governing body now sent a letter to Gentile Christians in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. (15:22-35) Holy spirit and the letter writers called for abstinence from things sacrificed to idols; blood (regularly consumed by some people); things strangled without draining their blood (many pagans viewing such meat as a delicacy); and fornication (Greek, por•nei′a, denoting illicit sex relations outside of Scriptural marriage). By such abstinence, they would prosper spiritually, even as Jehovah’s Witnesses now do because they comply with "these necessary things." The words "Good health to you!" amounted to saying "Farewell," and it should not be concluded that these requirements primarily had to do with health measures. When the letter was read in Antioch, the congregation rejoiced over the encouragement it provided. At that time, God’s people in Antioch were also made firm in the faith by the encouraging words of Paul, Silas, Barnabas, and others. May we too seek ways to encourage and upbuild fellow believers.
Second Missionary Tour Begins17 A problem arose when a second missionary journey was proposed. (15:36-41) Paul suggested that he and Barnabas revisit the congregations in Cyprus and Asia Minor. Barnabas agreed but wanted to take along his cousin Mark. Paul disagreed because Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia. At that, "a sharp burst of anger" occurred. But neither Paul nor Barnabas sought personal vindication by trying to involve other elders or the governing body in their private affair. What a fine example!
18 This dispute caused a separation, however. Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus. Paul, with Silas as his associate, "went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the congregations." Barnabas may have been influenced by family ties, but he should have acknowledged Paul’s apostleship and selection as "a chosen vessel." (Acts 9:15) And what about us? This incident should impress us with the need to recognize theocratic authority and to cooperate fully with "the faithful and discreet slave"!—Matthew 24:45-47.
Progress in Peace19 This dispute was not allowed to affect the peace of the congregation. God’s people continued to be made firm in the faith. (16:1-5) Paul and Silas went to Derbe and on to Lystra. There lived Timothy, a son of the Jewish believer Eunice and her unbelieving Greek husband. Timothy was young, for even 12 to 15 years later, he was still told: "Let no man ever look down on your youth." (1 Timothy 4:12) Since he "was well reported on by the brothers in Lystra and [some 18 miles [29 km] away in] Iconium," he was well-known for his fine ministry and godly qualities. Christian youths today should seek Jehovah’s help to build up a similar reputation. Paul circumcised Timothy because they would be going to the homes and synagogues of Jews who knew that Timothy’s father was a Gentile, and the apostle wanted nothing to bar access to Jewish men and women who needed to learn about the Messiah. Without violating Bible principles, Jehovah’s Witnesses today also do what they can to make the good news acceptable to all sorts of people.—1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
20 With Timothy as an attendant, Paul and Silas delivered to the disciples for observance the decrees of the governing body. And what resulted? Apparently referring to Syria, Cilicia, and Galatia, Luke wrote: "The congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number from day to day." Yes, compliance with the governing body’s letter resulted in unity and spiritual prosperity. What a fine example for our critical times, when Jehovah’s people need to remain unified and firm in the faith!
Bible Book Number 44—Acts*** si pp. 199-205 Bible Book Number 44—Acts ***
Place Written: Rome
Writing Completed: c. 61 C.E.
Time Covered: 33–c. 61 C.E.
IN THE 42nd book of the inspired Scriptures, Luke gives an account covering the life, activity, and ministry of Jesus and his followers up to the time of Jesus’ ascension. The historical record of the 44th book of the Scriptures, Acts of Apostles, continues the history of early Christianity by describing the founding of the congregation as a result of the operation of the holy spirit. It also describes the expansion of the witness, first among the Jews and then to people of all the nations. The greater part of the material in the first 12 chapters covers the activities of Peter, and the remaining 16 chapters, the activities of Paul. Luke had an intimate association with Paul, accompanying him on many of his travels.
2 The book is addressed to Theophilus. Since he is referred to as "most excellent," it is possible that he occupied some official position, or it may simply be an expression of high esteem. (Luke 1:3) The account provides an accurate historical record of the establishment and growth of the Christian congregation. It commences with Jesus’ appearances to his disciples following his resurrection and then records important events of the period from 33 to about 61 C.E., covering approximately 28 years in all.
3 From ancient times the writer of the Gospel of Luke has been credited with the writing of Acts. Both books are addressed to Theophilus. By repeating the closing events of his Gospel in the opening verses of Acts, Luke binds the two accounts together as the work of the same author. It appears that Luke completed Acts about 61 C.E., probably toward the close of a two-year stay in Rome while in the company of the apostle Paul. Since it records events down to that year, it could not have been completed earlier, and its leaving Paul’s appeal to Caesar undecided indicates that it was completed by that year.
4 From the most ancient times, Acts has been accepted by Bible scholars as canonical. Parts of the book are to be found among some of the oldest extant papyrus manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures, notably the Michigan No. 1571 (P38) of the third or fourth century C.E. and Chester Beatty No. 1 (P45) of the third century. Both of these indicate that Acts was circulating with other books of the inspired Scriptures and hence was part of the catalog at an early date. Luke’s writing in the book of Acts reflects the same remarkable accuracy as we have already noted marks his Gospel. Sir William M. Ramsay rates the writer of Acts "among the historians of the first rank," and he explains what this means by saying: "The first and the essential quality of the great historian is truth. What he says must be trustworthy."
5 Illustrating the accurate reporting that so characterizes Luke’s writings, we quote Edwin Smith, commander of a flotilla of British warships in the Mediterranean during World War I, writing in the magazine The Rudder, March 1947: "The ancient vessels were not steered as those in modern times by a single rudder hinged to the stern post, but by two great oars or paddles, one on each side of the stern; hence the mention of them in the plural number by St. Luke. [Acts 27:40] . . . We have seen in our examination that every statement as to the movements of this ship, from the time when she left Fair Havens until she was beached at Malta, as set forth by St. Luke has been verified by external and independent evidence of the most exact and satisfying nature; and that his statements as to the time the ship remained at sea correspond with the distance covered; and finally that his description of the place arrived at is in conformity with the place as it is. All of which goes to show that Luke actually made the voyage as described, and has moreover shown himself to be a man whose observations and statements may be taken as reliable and trustworthy in the highest degree."
6 Archaeological findings also confirm the accuracy of Luke’s account. For example, excavations at Ephesus have unearthed the temple of Artemis as well as the ancient theater where the Ephesians rioted against the apostle Paul. (Acts 19:27-41) Inscriptions have been discovered that confirm the correctness of Luke’s use of the title "city rulers" as applying to the officials of Thessalonica. (17:6, 8) Two Maltese inscriptions show that Luke was also correct in referring to Publius as "the principal man" of Malta.—28:7.
7 Further, the various speeches made by Peter, Stephen, Cornelius, Tertullus, Paul, and others, as recorded by Luke, are all different in style and composition. Even the speeches of Paul, spoken before different audiences, changed in style to suit the occasion. This indicates that Luke recorded only what he himself heard or what other eyewitnesses reported to him. Luke was no fiction writer.
8 Very little is known of the personal life of Luke. Luke himself was not an apostle but was associated with those who were. (Luke 1:1-4) In three instances the apostle Paul mentions Luke by name. (Col. 4:10, 14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24) For some years he was the constant companion of Paul, who called him "the beloved physician." There is a shifting back and forth in the account between "they" and "we," indicating that Luke was with Paul at Troas during Paul’s second missionary tour, that he may have remained behind at Philippi until Paul returned some years later, and that he then rejoined Paul and accompanied him on his trip to Rome for trial.—Acts 16:8, 10; 17:1; 20:4-6; 28:16.
CONTENTS OF ACTS9 Events till Pentecost (1:1-26). As Luke opens this second account, the resurrected Jesus tells his eager disciples that they will be baptized in holy spirit. Will the Kingdom be restored at this time? No. But they will receive power and become witnesses "to the most distant part of the earth." As Jesus is lifted up out of their sight, two men in white tell them: "This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner."—1:8, 11.
10 The memorable day of Pentecost (2:1-42). The disciples are all assembled in Jerusalem. Suddenly a noise like a rushing wind fills the house. Tongues as if of fire rest on those present. They are filled with holy spirit and begin speaking in different languages about "the magnificent things of God." (2:11) Onlookers are perplexed. Now Peter stands up and speaks. He explains that this outpouring of the spirit is in fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (2:28-32) and that Jesus Christ, now resurrected and exalted to God’s right hand, ‘has poured out this which they see and hear.’ Stabbed to the heart, about 3,000 embrace the word and are baptized.—2:33.
11 The witness expands (2:43–5:42). Daily, Jehovah continues to join to them those being saved. Outside the temple Peter and John come upon a crippled man who has never walked in his life. "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!" commands Peter. Immediately the man begins "walking and leaping and praising God." Peter then appeals to the people to repent and turn around, "that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah." Annoyed that Peter and John are teaching Jesus’ resurrection, the religious leaders arrest them, but the ranks of the believers swell to about 5,000 men.—3:6, 8, 19.
12 The next day, Peter and John are taken before the Jewish rulers for questioning. Peter testifies outspokenly that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, and when commanded to stop their preaching work, both Peter and John reply: "Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard." (4:19, 20) They are released, and all the disciples continue to speak the word of God with boldness. Because of the circumstances, they pool their material possessions and make distributions according to the need. However, a certain Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sell some property and secretly keep back part of the price while giving the appearance of turning in the entire sum. Peter exposes them, and they drop dead because they have played false to God and the holy spirit.
13 Again the outraged religious leaders throw the apostles into jail, but this time Jehovah’s angel releases them. The next day they are again brought before the Sanhedrin and charged with ‘filling Jerusalem with their teaching.’ They reply: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men." Though flogged and threatened, they still refuse to stop, and ‘every day in the temple and from house to house they continue without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.’—5:28, 29, 42.
14 Stephen’s martyrdom (6:1–8:1a). Stephen is one of seven appointed by holy spirit to distribute food to tables. He also witnesses powerfully to the truth, and so zealous is his support of the faith that his enraged opponents have him brought before the Sanhedrin on the charge of blasphemy. In making his defense, Stephen tells first of Jehovah’s long-suffering toward Israel. Then, in fearless eloquence, he comes to the point: ‘Obstinate men, you are always resisting the holy spirit, you who received the Law as transmitted by angels but have not kept it.’ (7:51-53) This is too much for them. They rush upon him, throw him outside the city, and stone him to death. Saul looks on in approval.
15 Persecutions, Saul’s conversion (8:1b–9:30). The persecution that begins that day against the congregation in Jerusalem scatters all except the apostles throughout the land. Philip goes to Samaria, where many accept the word of God. Peter and John are sent there from Jerusalem so that these believers may receive holy spirit "through the laying on of the hands of the apostles." (8:18) An angel then directs Philip south to the Jerusalem-Gaza road, where he finds a eunuch of the royal court of Ethiopia riding in his chariot and reading the book of Isaiah. Philip enlightens him as to the meaning of the prophecy and baptizes him.
16 Meanwhile, Saul, "still breathing threat and murder against the disciples of the Lord," sets out to arrest those ‘belonging to The Way’ in Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashes around him, and he falls to the ground blinded. A voice from heaven tells him: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." After three days in Damascus, a disciple named Ananias ministers to him. Saul recovers his sight, gets baptized, and becomes filled with holy spirit, so that he becomes a zealous and able preacher of the good news. (9:1, 2, 5) In this amazing turn of events, the persecutor becomes the persecuted and has to flee for his life, first from Damascus and then from Jerusalem.
17 The good news goes to uncircumcised Gentiles (9:31–12:25). The congregation now ‘enters into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walks in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit, it keeps on multiplying.’ (9:31) At Joppa, Peter raises the beloved Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead, and it is from here that he receives the call to go to Caesarea, where an army officer named Cornelius awaits him. He preaches to Cornelius and his household and they believe, and the holy spirit is poured out upon them. Having perceived "that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him," Peter baptizes them—the first uncircumcised Gentile converts. Peter later explains this new development to the brothers in Jerusalem, at which they glorify God.—10:34, 35.
18 As the good news continues to spread rapidly, Barnabas and Saul teach quite a crowd in Antioch, ‘and it is first in Antioch that the disciples are by divine providence called Christians.’ (11:26) Once again persecution breaks out. Herod Agrippa I has James the brother of John killed with the sword. He also throws Peter into prison, but once again Jehovah’s angel sets Peter free. Too bad for the wicked Herod! Because he fails to give glory to God, he is eaten up with worms and dies. On the other hand, ‘the word of Jehovah goes on growing and spreading.’—12:24.
19 Paul’s first missionary trip, with Barnabas (13:1–14:28). Barnabas and "Saul, who is also Paul," are set apart and sent forth from Antioch by holy spirit. (13:9) On the island of Cyprus, many become believers, including the proconsul Sergius Paulus. On the mainland of Asia Minor, they make a circuit of six or more cities, and everywhere it is the same story: A clear division appears between those who gladly accept the good news and the stiff-necked opponents who incite rock-throwing mobs against Jehovah’s messengers. After making appointments of older men in the newly formed congregations, Paul and Barnabas return to Syrian Antioch.
20 Settling the circumcision issue (15:1-35). With the great influx of non-Jews, the question arises whether these should be circumcised. Paul and Barnabas take the issue to the apostles and the older men in Jerusalem, where the disciple James presides and arranges to send out the unanimous decision by formal letter: "The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication." (15:28, 29) The encouragement of this letter causes the brothers in Antioch to rejoice.
21 Ministry expands with Paul’s second trip (15:36–18:22). "After some days" Barnabas and Mark sail for Cyprus, while Paul and Silas set out through Syria and Asia Minor. (15:36) The young man Timothy joins Paul at Lystra, and they journey on to Troas on the Aegean seacoast. Here in a vision Paul sees a man entreating him: "Step over into Macedonia and help us." (16:9) Luke joins Paul, and they take a ship to Philippi, the principal city of Macedonia, where Paul and Silas are thrown into prison. This results in the jailer’s becoming a believer and getting baptized. After their release, they push on to Thessalonica, and there the jealous Jews incite a mob against them. So by night the brothers send Paul and Silas out to Beroea. Here the Jews show noble-mindedness by receiving the word "with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily" in search of confirmation of the things learned. (17:11) Leaving Silas and Timothy with this new congregation, as he had left Luke in Philippi, Paul continues on south to Athens.
22 In this city of idols, high-minded Epicurean and Stoic philosophers deride Paul as a "chatterer" and "a publisher of foreign deities," and they take him up to the Areopagus, or Mars’ Hill. With skillful oratory Paul argues in favor of seeking the true God, the "Lord of heaven and earth," who guarantees a righteous judgment by the one whom He has resurrected from the dead. Mention of the resurrection divides his audience, but some become believers.—17:18, 24.
23 Next, in Corinth, Paul stays with Aquila and Priscilla, joining with them in the trade of tentmaking. Opposition to his preaching compels him to move out of the synagogue and to hold his meetings next door, in the home of Titius Justus. Crispus, the presiding officer of the synagogue, becomes a believer. After a stay of 18 months in Corinth, Paul departs with Aquila and Priscilla for Ephesus, where he leaves them and continues on to Antioch in Syria, thus completing his second missionary tour.
24 Paul revisits congregations, third tour (18:23–21:26). A Jew named Apollos comes to Ephesus from Alexandria, Egypt, speaking boldly in the synagogue about Jesus, but Aquila and Priscilla find it necessary to correct his teaching before he goes on to Corinth. Paul is now on his third journey and in due course comes to Ephesus. Learning that the believers here have been baptized with John’s baptism, Paul explains baptism in Jesus’ name. He then baptizes about 12 men; and when he lays his hands upon them, they receive the holy spirit.
25 During Paul’s three-year stay in Ephesus, ‘the word of Jehovah keeps growing and prevailing in a mighty way,’ and many give up their worship of the city’s patron goddess, Artemis. (19:20) Angered at the prospective loss of business, the makers of silver shrines throw the city into such an uproar that it takes hours to disperse the mob. Soon afterward Paul leaves for Macedonia and Greece, visiting the believers along the way.
26 Paul stays three months in Greece before returning by way of Macedonia, where Luke rejoins him. They cross over to Troas, and here, as Paul is discoursing into the night, a young man falls asleep and tumbles out of a third-story window. He is picked up dead, but Paul restores him to life. The next day Paul and his party leave for Miletus, where Paul stops over en route to Jerusalem, to have a meeting with the older men from Ephesus. He informs them they will see his face no more. How urgent, then, it is for them to take the lead and shepherd the flock of God, ‘among which the holy spirit has appointed them overseers’! He recalls the example he has set among them, and he admonishes them to keep awake, not sparing themselves in giving in behalf of the brothers. (20:28) Though warned against setting foot in Jerusalem, Paul does not turn back. His companions acquiesce, saying: "Let the will of Jehovah take place." (21:14) There is great rejoicing when Paul reports to James and the older men concerning God’s blessing on his ministry among the nations.
27 Paul arrested and tried (21:27–26:32). When Paul appears in the temple in Jerusalem, he is given a hostile reception. Jews from Asia stir up the whole city against him, and Roman soldiers rescue him just in the nick of time.
28 What is all the uproar about? Who is this Paul? What is his crime? The puzzled military commander wants to know the answers. Because of his Roman citizenship, Paul escapes the whipping rack and is brought before the Sanhedrin. Ah, a divided court of Pharisees and Sadducees! Paul therefore raises the question of the resurrection, setting them one against another. As the dissension becomes violent, the Roman soldiers have to snatch Paul from the midst of the Sanhedrin before he is pulled to pieces. He is sent secretly by night to Governor Felix in Caesarea with heavy soldier escort.
29 Charged with sedition by his accusers, Paul ably defends himself before Felix. But Felix holds out in hopes of getting bribe money for Paul’s release. Two years pass. Porcius Festus succeeds Felix as governor, and a new trial is ordered. Again, serious charges are made, and again Paul declares his innocence. But Festus, to gain favor with the Jews, suggests a further trial before him in Jerusalem. Paul therefore declares: "I appeal to Caesar!" (25:11) More time passes. Finally, King Herod Agrippa II pays a courtesy visit to Festus, and Paul is again brought into the judgment hall. So forceful and convincing is his testimony that Agrippa is moved to say to him: "In a short time you would persuade me to become a Christian." (26:28) Agrippa likewise recognizes Paul’s innocence and that he could be released if he had not appealed to Caesar.
30 Paul goes to Rome (27:1–28:31). The prisoner Paul and others are taken on a boat for the first stage of the journey to Rome. The winds being contrary, progress is slow. At the port of Myra, they change ships. On reaching Fair Havens, in Crete, Paul recommends wintering there, but the majority advise setting sail. They have hardly put to sea when a tempestuous wind seizes them and drives them along unmercifully. After two weeks their vessel is finally pounded to pieces on a shoal off the coast of Malta. True to Paul’s previous assurance, not one of the 276 aboard loses his life! The inhabitants of Malta show extraordinary human kindness, and during that winter, Paul cures many of them by the miraculous power of God’s spirit.
31 The next spring Paul reaches Rome, and the brothers come out on the roadway to meet him. The sight of them causes Paul to ‘thank God and take courage.’ Though still a prisoner, Paul is permitted to stay in his own hired house with a soldier guard. Luke ends his account, describing Paul’s kindly receiving all those who came in to him and "preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance."—28:15, 31.
WHY BENEFICIAL32 The book of Acts adds testimony to that of the Gospel accounts in confirming the authenticity and inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures. As Pentecost approached, Peter cited the fulfillment of two prophecies that "the holy spirit spoke beforehand by David’s mouth about Judas." (Acts 1:16, 20; Ps. 69:25; 109:8) Peter also told the astonished Pentecost crowd that they were actually witnessing fulfillment of prophecy: "This is what was said through the prophet Joel."—Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32; compare also Acts 2:25-28, 34, 35 with Psalm 16:8-11 and 110:1.
33 To convince another crowd outside the temple, Peter again called upon the Hebrew Scriptures, first quoting Moses and then saying: "And all the prophets, in fact, from Samuel on and those in succession, just as many as have spoken, have also plainly declared these days." Later, before the Sanhedrin, Peter quoted Psalm 118:22 in showing that Christ, the stone that they rejected, had become "the head of the corner." (Acts 3:22-24; 4:11) Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch how the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7, 8 had been fulfilled, and on being enlightened, this one humbly requested baptism. (Acts 8:28-35) Likewise, speaking to Cornelius concerning Jesus, Peter testified: "To him all the prophets bear witness." (10:43) When the matter of circumcision was being debated, James backed up his decision by saying: "With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written." (15:15-18) The apostle Paul relied on the same authorities. (26:22; 28:23, 25-27) The evident ready acceptance by the disciples and their hearers of the Hebrew Scriptures as part of God’s Word sets the seal of inspired approval on those writings.
34 Acts is most beneficial in showing how the Christian congregation was founded and how it grew under power of holy spirit. Throughout this dramatic account, we observe God’s blessings of expansion, the boldness and joy of the early Christians, their uncompromising stand in the face of persecution, and their willingness to serve, as exemplified in Paul’s answering the calls to enter foreign service and to go into Macedonia. (4:13, 31; 15:3; 5:28, 29; 8:4; 13:2-4; 16:9, 10) The Christian congregation today is no different, for it is bound together in love, unity, and common interest as it speaks "the magnificent things of God" under guidance of holy spirit.—2:11, 17, 45; 4:34, 35; 11:27-30; 12:25.
35 The book of Acts shows just how the Christian activity of proclaiming God’s Kingdom should be carried out. Paul himself was an example, saying: "I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house." Then he goes on to say: "I thoroughly bore witness." This theme of ‘thorough witnessing’ strikes our attention throughout the book, and it comes impressively to the fore in the closing paragraphs, where Paul’s wholehearted devotion to his preaching and teaching, even under prison bonds, is borne out in the words: "And he explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening." May we ever be as singlehearted in our Kingdom activity!—20:20, 21; 28:23; 2:40; 5:42; 26:22.
36 Paul’s discourse to the overseers from Ephesus contains much practical counsel for overseers today. Since these have been appointed by holy spirit, it is most important that they ‘pay attention to themselves and to all the flock,’ shepherding them tenderly and guarding them against oppressive wolves that seek their destruction. No light responsibility this! Overseers have need to keep awake and build themselves up on the word of God’s undeserved kindness. As they labor to assist those who are weak, they "must bear in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’"—20:17-35.
37 The other discourses of Paul also sparkle with clear exposition of Bible principles. For example, there is the classic argumentation of his talk to the Stoics and Epicureans on the Areopagus. First he quotes the altar inscription, "To an Unknown God," and uses this as his reason for explaining that the one true God, the Lord of heaven and earth, who made out of one man every nation of men, "is not far off from each one of us." Then he quotes the words of their poets, "For we are also his progeny," in showing how ridiculous it is to suppose that they sprang from lifeless idols of gold, silver, or stone. Thus Paul tactfully establishes the sovereignty of the living God. It is only in his concluding words that he raises the issue of the resurrection, and even then he does not mention Christ by name. He got across his point of the supreme sovereignty of the one true God, and some became believers as a result.—17:22-34.
38 The book of Acts encourages continuous, diligent study of "all Scripture." When Paul first preached in Beroea, the Jews there, because "they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so," were commended as being "noble-minded." (17:11) Today, as then, this eager searching of the Scriptures in association with Jehovah’s spirit-filled congregation will result in the blessings of conviction and strong faith. It is by such study that one may come to a clear appreciation of the divine principles. A fine statement of some of these principles is recorded at Acts 15:29. Here the governing body of apostles and older brothers in Jerusalem made known that while circumcision was not a requirement for spiritual Israel, there were definite prohibitions on idolatry, blood, and fornication.
39 Those early disciples really studied the inspired Scriptures and could quote and apply them as needed. They were strengthened through accurate knowledge and by God’s spirit to meet fierce persecutions. Peter and John set the pattern for all faithful Christians when they boldly told the opposing rulers: "Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard." And when brought again before the Sanhedrin, which had "positively ordered" them not to keep teaching on the basis of Jesus’ name, they said unequivocally: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men." This fearless testimony resulted in a fine witness to the rulers, and it led the famous Law teacher Gamaliel to make his well-known statement in favor of freedom of worship, which led to the apostles’ release.—4:19, 20; 5:28, 29, 34, 35, 38, 39.
40 Jehovah’s glorious purpose concerning his Kingdom, which runs like a golden thread throughout the entire Bible, stands out very prominently in the book of Acts. At the outset Jesus is shown during the 40 days prior to his ascension "telling the things about the kingdom of God." It was in answer to the disciples’ question about the restoration of the Kingdom that Jesus told them that they must first be his witnesses to the most distant part of the earth. (1:3, 6, 8) Starting in Jerusalem, the disciples preached the Kingdom with unflinching boldness. Persecutions brought the stoning of Stephen and scattered many of the disciples into new territories. (7:59, 60) It is recorded that Philip declared "the good news of the kingdom of God" with much success in Samaria and that Paul and his associates proclaimed "the kingdom" in Asia, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome. All these early Christians set sterling examples of unswerving reliance on Jehovah and his sustaining spirit. (8:5, 12; 14:5-7, 21, 22; 18:1, 4; 19:1, 8; 20:25; 28:30, 31) Viewing their indomitable zeal and courage and noting how abundantly Jehovah blessed their efforts, we also have wonderful incentive to be faithful in "bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God."—28:23.
Highlights From the Book of Acts*** w08 5/15 p. 30 - p. 32 Highlights From the Book of Acts ***
THE Bible book of Acts provides a comprehensive history of the establishment of the Christian congregation and its subsequent expansion. Written by the physician Luke, it presents a dynamic account of Christian activity over a period of some 28 years—from 33 C.E. to 61 C.E.
The first part of Acts is primarily about the activity of the apostle Peter, and the latter part is about that of the apostle Paul. By using such pronouns as "we" and "us," Luke indicates that he was present when certain events occurred. Paying attention to the message of the book of Acts will heighten our appreciation for the power of God’s written Word and his holy spirit. (Heb. 4:12) It will also move us to be self-sacrificing and will build up our faith in the Kingdom hope.
PETER USES "THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM"(Acts 1:1–11:18)
After receiving the holy spirit, the apostles give a bold witness. Peter uses the first of "the keys of the kingdom of the heavens" to open the door of knowledge and opportunity for Jews and proselytes who "embraced his word" to enter the Kingdom. (Matt. 16:19; Acts 2:5, 41) A wave of persecution scatters disciples, but this results in expansion of the preaching work.
Upon hearing that Samaria has accepted the word of God, the apostles in Jerusalem dispatch Peter and John to them. By opening up the Kingdom opportunity to the Samaritans, Peter uses the second key. (Acts 8:14-17) Perhaps within a year of Jesus’ resurrection, an amazing transformation takes place in Saul of Tarsus. In 36 C.E., Peter uses the third key, and the free gift of the holy spirit is poured out upon uncircumcised people of the nations.—Acts 10:45.
Scriptural Questions Answered:2:44-47; 4:34, 35—Why did believers sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds? Many who became believers had come from faraway places and were without enough provisions to extend their stay in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, they desired to remain there longer in order to learn more about their new faith and to bear witness to others. To help such ones, some Christians sold their property, and the funds were distributed to the needy.
4:13—Were Peter and John illiterate or uneducated? No, they were not. They were called "unlettered and ordinary" because they did not attend rabbinic schools for religious training.
5:34-39—How could Luke know what Gamaliel had said in a closed session of the Sanhedrin? There are at least three possibilities: (1) Paul, formerly a student of Gamaliel, informed Luke; (2) Luke consulted a sympathetic member of the Sanhedrin, such as Nicodemus; (3) Luke received this information through divine inspiration.
7:59—Was Stephen praying to Jesus? No, he was not. One’s worship—and therefore one’s prayers—should go only to Jehovah God. (Luke 4:8; 6:12) Under normal circumstances, Stephen would have appealed to Jehovah in the name of Jesus. (John 15:16) In this instance, though, Stephen had a vision of "the Son of man standing at God’s right hand." (Acts 7:56) Fully aware that Jesus had been given the power to resurrect the dead, Stephen spoke, but did not pray, directly to Jesus, asking Him to safeguard his spirit.—John 5:27-29.
Lessons for Us:1:8. The worldwide work of witnessing done by Jehovah’s worshippers cannot be accomplished without the help of the holy spirit.
4:36–5:11. Joseph of Cyprus was surnamed Barnabas, which means "Son of Comfort." The apostles may have given him the name Barnabas because he was warmhearted, kind, and helpful to others. We should be like him and not like Ananias and Sapphira, who resorted to pretense, hypocrisy, and deviousness.
9:23-25. To elude our enemies in order to continue preaching is not cowardly.
9:28-30. If witnessing in certain neighborhoods or to some individuals becomes physically, morally, or spiritually hazardous, we need to be prudent and selective about where and when we preach.
9:31. During relatively peaceful times, we should strive to fortify our faith through study and meditation. This will help us to walk in the fear of Jehovah by applying what we learn and to be zealous in the ministry.
PAUL’S ZEALOUS MINISTRY(Acts 11:19–28:31)
In 44 C.E., Agabus comes to Antioch, where Barnabas and Saul have been teaching "for a whole year." Agabus foretells "a great famine," which takes place two years later. (Acts 11:26-28) "After having fully carried out the relief ministration in Jerusalem," Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch. (Acts 12:25) In 47 C.E.—about 12 years after Saul’s conversion—Barnabas and Saul are sent out by the holy spirit on a missionary tour. (Acts 13:1-4) In 48 C.E., they return to Antioch, "where they had been entrusted to the undeserved kindness of God."—Acts 14:26.
Some nine months later, Paul (also known as Saul) selects Silas as his companion and sets out on his second tour. (Acts 15:40) Timothy and Luke join Paul along the way. Luke stays in Philippi as Paul continues on to Athens and then to Corinth, where he meets Aquila and Priscilla and spends a year and six months. (Acts 18:11) Leaving Timothy and Silas in Corinth, Paul takes Aquila and Priscilla with him and sails away for Syria early in 52 C.E. (Acts 18:18) Aquila and Priscilla accompanied him as far as Ephesus, where they remained.
After spending some time in Syrian Antioch, Paul embarks upon his third tour, in 52 C.E. (Acts 18:23) In Ephesus, "the word of Jehovah [keeps] growing and prevailing." (Acts 19:20) Paul spends about three years there. (Acts 20:31) By Pentecost of 56 C.E., Paul is in Jerusalem. After being arrested, he gives a fearless witness before the authorities. In Rome, the apostle is placed under house arrest for two years (c. 59-61 C.E.), and from there he finds ways to preach about the Kingdom and teach "the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ."—Acts 28:30, 31.
Scriptural Questions Answered:14:8-13—Why did people in Lystra call "Barnabas Zeus, but Paul Hermes"? Zeus was the ruler of the gods in Greek mythology, and his son Hermes was known for his eloquence. Since Paul took the lead in speaking, the people of Lystra called him Hermes and Barnabas they called Zeus.
16:6, 7—Why did the holy spirit forbid Paul and his associates to preach in the district of Asia and Bithynia? There were just a few workers. Hence, the holy spirit directed them to more fruitful fields.
18:12-17—Why did Proconsul Gallio not interfere when onlookers began beating Sosthenes? Gallio perhaps thought that the man who seemed to be the leader of the mob action against Paul was getting what he deserved. However, this incident apparently had a good outcome in that it led to Sosthenes’ conversion to Christianity. Later, Paul speaks of Sosthenes as "our brother."—1 Cor. 1:1.
18:18—What vow did Paul make? Some scholars suggest that Paul had taken a Nazirite vow. (Num. 6:1-21) However, the Bible does not state what Paul’s vow was. Moreover, the Scriptures are silent as to whether the vow was made before or after Paul’s conversion or if he was starting or ending the vow. Whatever was the case, the taking of such a vow was not sinful.
Lessons for Us:12:5-11. We can and should pray for our brothers.
12:21-23; 14:14-18. Herod readily accepted glory that should be given only to God. How that differed from the immediate and emphatic rejection of undue praise and honor by Paul and Barnabas! We should not desire glory for whatever accomplishments we may have in Jehovah’s service.
14:5-7. Exercising prudence can help us remain active in service.—Matt. 10:23.
14:22. Christians expect tribulations. They do not try to escape them by compromising their faith.—2 Tim. 3:12.
16:1, 2. Christian youths should apply themselves spiritually and seek Jehovah’s help to build up a good reputation.
16:3. We should do all we can within Scriptural bounds to make the good news acceptable to others.—1 Cor. 9:19-23.
20:20, 21. House-to-house witnessing is an essential aspect of our ministry.
20:24; 21:13. Maintaining integrity to God is more important than preserving our life.
21:21-26. We should be willing and eager to accept good advice.
25:8-12. Christians today can and should make use of available legal provisions "in the defending and legally establishing of the good news."—Phil. 1:7.
26:24, 25. We should declare "sayings of truth and of soundness of mind" even though they are foolishness to "a physical man."—1 Cor. 2:14.
"Bearing Thorough Witness" About God’s KingdomHere is a Table of Contents of the book "‘Bearing Thorough Witness’ About God’s Kingdom" who believes each chapter of the book of Acts of Apostles in the Watchtower Online Library.
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