Jesus, in His glory, appeared to Saul
1 And Saul, still breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 And asked from him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, so that if he found any of the way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?
- The Lord takes it personally when we are persecuted because He is one with us.
- John 17:23 I in them, and You in me, that they may be made perfect in one
- Revelation 1:16 … and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.
- Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, If you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
He prods us toward Him
5 And he said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks/prods.
- The NIV totally omits this phrase about ‘kick against the prods’, but it is in the Greek text.
- The phrase speaks of the ox goad that was used to prod cattle along.
- Jesus kept trying to prod Saul toward Him but Paul kept turning around to kick against the prods.
- Genesis 6:3 My Spirit will not always strive with man
6 And he, trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will you have me to do? And the Lord said to him, Get up and go into the city and it will be told you what you must do.
- Many are afraid to ask, Lord, what will you have me do? Because we fear He will send us to do something hard or distasteful.
- Jesus gave Paul a simple thing to do.
- He guides our lives one simple thing at a time in His love and goodness. And He is our helper.
- Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- Hebrews 13:6 we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man will do to me.
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul got up from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him to Damascus. 9 Three days he was without sight and ate and drank nothing.
God quiets our fears
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for behold, he is praying, 12 And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on your name. 15 But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to me, to carry my name to the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 17 And Ananias went his way and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales: and he received sight instantly and got up and was baptized. 19 And when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul was certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
- John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him nothing was made that was made.
God protected Paul
21 But all that heard him were amazed and said; Isn’t this the one that destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and came here to bring them bound to the chief priests? 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounded the Jews that lived at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ. 23 And after many days were fulfilled the Jews plotted to kill him: 24 But their plot was known by Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 So Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to kill him. 30 Which when the brothers learned of it they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him on to Tarsus. 31 Then the churches had rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied.
- Shouldn’t we fear the one who has all the power in the universe? The one who can bless us mightily or send us to hell.
- Fear is also reverence and continual awe.
- Job 28:28 Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
- Joshua 4:24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that you might fear the LORD your God forever.
- Psalm 34:9 O fear the LORD, you his saints: for there is no lack to them that fear him.
Jesus makes us whole
32 And it happened as Peter passed throughout all regions, he came down also to the saints that dwelt at Lydda. 33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas who had kept to his bed eight years and was sick of the palsy. 34 And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole: get up and make your bed. And he got up immediately. 35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and turned to the Lord.
- Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power
The Lord raised the dead through Peter
36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, called Dorcas: this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity that she did. 37 And it happened in those days that she fell sick and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent to him two men, asking him that he not delay to come to them. 39 Then Peter got up and went with them. When he came, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out and kneeled down and prayed; and turning to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 43 And it came to pass, that he remained many days in Joppa with one Simon, a tanner.
- Isaiah 26:19 Your dead men will live, together with my dead body will they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth will cast out the dead.
- John 10:28 And I give to them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither will any man pluck them out of my hand.
God has shown us not to call any man common or unclean
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian band, 2 A devout man and one that feared God with all his house who did many deeds of compassion to the people and always prayed to God. 3 He saw in a vision about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying to him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said to him, Your prayers and your deeds of compassion have come up for a memorial before God.
- Revelation 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
5 And now send men to Joppa and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodges with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside: he shall tell you what you ought to do. 7 And when the angel that spoke to Cornelius departed, he called two of his household servants and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8 And when he had declared all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 The next day as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they prepared food he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending to him, like a great sheet knit at the four corners and let down to the earth.
- This knit sheet was actually a prayer shawl (John Hagee).
12 In it were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spoke to him again the second time, What God has cleansed, do not call common. 16 This was done three times: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
- Ezekiel 36:25-29 Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
God guides by a holy angel
17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision that he had seen meant, behold, the men that were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men seek you. 20 Get up and go down and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men who were sent to him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am the one you seek: why have you come? 22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that fears God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by a holy angel to send for you to come his house, and to hear words from you. 23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And next day Peter went away with them, and certain brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the next day they entered Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
- Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See you do not do it: I am your fellow servant and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God…
27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many gathered together. 28 And he said to them, you know that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God has showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore came I to you without objection as soon as I was sent for: so I ask for what reason you have sent for me?
God remembers our prayers and deeds of compassion
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, your prayer is heard and your deeds of compassion are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call here Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he comes, will speak to you. 33 So I immediately sent to you; and you have well done that you have come. Now therefore are we all present here before God, to hear all things that you are commanded of God.
- Notice that the Holy Spirit had prepared their hearts. Deut 1:30 tells us God goes ahead of us to prepare the way. He won’t fail us or forsake us—do not fear.
God has no prejudice
He accepts all who revere Him and do right
He brings peace
He is Lord of all
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Truly I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that fears him and works righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word that God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, you know, which was published throughout all Judea and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil; for God was with him.
- Roman 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
God raised Jesus from death on the third day
Jesus is ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they killed and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before by God, even to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is he who was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and dead.
- John 5:22 For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son
- Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross
43 To him all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him will receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter still spoke these words, the Holy Spirit fell on/embraced all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, those that came with Peter because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
- Pride causes us to think more highly of ourselves than is warranted.
- The Jews were God’s chosen nation, but all people of earth could have joined with them.
- God excludes no one.
- Over the centuries Jewish prejudice became colossal.
- They thought themselves so much better that they weren’t allowed to associate with Gentiles (verse 28).
- This gift of God is infinite because God is infinite. In the Holy Spirit He gave us Himself.
- John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever
1 The apostles and brothers that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those that were of the circumcision disputed with him, 3 saying, You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them. 4 But Peter explained the matter in order from the beginning to them saying, 5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descended, like a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners; it came right down to me. 6 Gazing on it, I observed and saw four-footed animals of the earth and wild beasts and creeping things and fowls of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, Rise up, Peter; kill and eat. 8 But I said, No way, Lord: for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.
God cleansed all in Jesus
9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God has cleansed, do not call common.
- God is holy. We are not. No matter how good we could become it wouldn’t be good enough to come into His presence. But God made a way.
- 1 Samuel 16:7 for the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
- Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they are things in earth, or things in heaven.
10 And this was done three times: and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, immediately three men had already come to the house where I was; they were sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the spirit bid me go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brothers accompanied me and we entered into the man's house: 13 And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, who stood and said to him, Send men to Joppa and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14 Who will tell you words by which you and all your house will be saved.
He gave eternal life and His Holy Spirit to the nations
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how that he said, John truly baptized with water; but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 17 Since God gave them the same gift as he did to us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; who was I to withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace and glorified God, saying, Then God has granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles also.
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.
The hand of the Lord was with them
19 Now those who were scattered abroad at the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who when they came to Antioch, spoke to the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord. 22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church that was in Jerusalem: and they sent Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart to cling to the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith: and many people were added to the Lord.
- The first use of this word ‘cling/cleave’ was in Genesis. It means to cling by pursuing.
- Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife: and they will be one flesh.
- John 17:21 That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us
God showed that a famine was coming
25 Then Barnabas departed to Tarsus to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. And that whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. 27 And in those days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and indicated by the spirit that there would be great famine throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who dwelt in Judea: 30 Which they did and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
- God uses famine to call the people of the world back to Himself (Deuteronomy 30:1-3).
- II Kings 8:1 Then spoke Elisha to the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go, you and your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn: for the LORD has called for a famine; and it will come on the land seven years.
SUMMARY: Acts 9-11
- Jesus, in His glory, appeared to Saul
- He prods us toward Him
- God quiets our fears
- God protected Paul
- Jesus makes us whole
- The Lord raised the dead through Peter
- God has shown us not to call any man common or unclean
- God guides by a holy angel
- God remembers our prayers and deeds of compassion
- God has no prejudice
- He accepts all who revere Him and do right
- He brings peace
- He is Lord of all
- God raised Jesus from death on the third day
- Jesus is ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead
- God cleansed all in Jesus
- He gave eternal life and His Holy Spirit to the nations
- The hand of the Lord was with them
- God showed that a famine was coming