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Bible Study: Acts 8 and 9

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Bible Study

Acts 8 and 9

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Bible Study: Acts 8 and 9

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Part 6 of an in-depth Bible study on the book of Acts.

Transcript

I want to just mention to you, we had a critical essence conference here, a seminar yesterday. It was very well received: a lot of discussion back and forth. I don’t know if Mr. Eddington wants to make any brief comments about it before we go into the Bible, into the book of Acts. He is going to start off and cover the first part of it, of chapter 8, several verses of it, and then he’ll turn it over to me and I’ll do the last part of it and some of chapter 9.

So we are going to see the early church persecuted. We’re going to see the growth of the early church. We’re going to see a noted antagonist. We are going to see the origin of the word simony, which is trying to buy the priest’s office. And then we are going to see miracles take place and we are going to see the conversion of  an Ethiopian eunuch. And then we are also going to see, in chapter 9, the conversion of the apostle Paul, which I consider one of the key chapters in the whole book of Acts. Because he would become the apostle to the gentiles. So, I will turn it over to Mr. Eddington for any introductory remarks he has say and his portion.

Thank you, Mr. Antion. Good evening, everyone, and welcome to Bible study, midweek. It’s an exciting time of year with the Holy Days just a few days away now, the Passover. So, we’ll be out of town for the first and last Holy Days and Passover visiting various church areas. So, we are looking forward to that. What Mr. Antion was referring to yesterday with the Critical Essence workshop was our writers and editors and producers getting together to discuss who and what we are and how best to preach the gospel and get the message of God out in a meaningful way, so, that was an all day seminar yesterday for our staff, which went very very smoothly. And you will hear more about that as the weeks and months go by, as well, I think.

Chapter 8 is where we are going to begin here tonight as Mr. Antion said. I might point out that if you look at the timeframe here Acts chapter 2, the Day of Pentecost, was 31 AD. That’s our calculation of that, 31 AD.  As we move to the end of chapter 7 verse 60, most scholars believe that is probably around 35 AD. So in those first few chapters, 4 or 5 years go by. Of course, we read through it quite fast. And there are just 4 or 5 stories there about so many thousand here and so many thousand there being converted. But it actually covers about 4 or 5 years in those first 6 or 7 chapters. A lot is compressed and encapsulated there. But now as we move into chapter 8, let’s read verse 1 and we will make some comment as we go along here. Now Saul was consenting to his death. That is Steven, who was stoned to death in the previous chapter. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem and they’re all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. So it appears the apostles were there together at that point. But the church was beginning to be scattered because of the persecution. When we read there that a great persecution arose against the church Saul was consenting to his death, to Steven’s death. It means that Saul was having almost a pleasure in the death of Steven. It was almost a brutal cruelty, as how some translations put it. A brutal cruelty, the was Steven was handled. Paul, who we will be reading about fairly soon tonight, Paul means builder but Saul means destroyer. And they are both originations of the same name whether it is in Greek or Hebrew. But Paul means builder and Saul means destroyer. And he was destroying the church at this time, having pleasure, or acting cruelly towards the church and, of course, Steven was stoned.

In verse 2 devout men carried Steven to his burial and made great lamentation over him. And, of course, those that would have taken Steven’s body would have been those that were sorrowful over his death. Those that made lamentation over him and, no doubt, followers of Jesus Christ that took Steven to burial after that horrible and terrifying ordeal that he faced. And as for Saul, the destroyer, he made havoc of the church. And that means he ravaged the church. He was destroying it; entering every house and dragging off men and women committing them to prison. Saul was thinking he was doing a good service, of course, but he was extremely deceived at this point.

The apostle Paul talks about this very event in Acts chapter 26 verses 10-11 where he admits what he did.

Acts 26:10 Acts 26:10Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
American King James Version×
he says “This I also did in Jerusalem and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests. And when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.”

So maybe Saul was there casting his vote against Steven, too. In a previous Bible study there was some discussion about whether or not Saul may have even been there at the San Hedron, at the council meeting when this happened.

Acts 26:11 Acts 26:11And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even to strange cities.
American King James Version×
so Paul says “And I punished them often in every synagogue, compelled them to blaspheme” You know, like torturing people till they would blaspheme “and being exceedingly enraged against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”

Saul was a real destroyer of the church. And this was not a pleasant experience for the people of God.

Acts 8:4 Acts 8:4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
American King James Version×
“therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the word.”

Now if you read that you can just gloss over that but what is really happening is that even when under intense pressure, even when under intense stress, under opposition of the governing authorities of the land and of the priests. What did they do? What did the brethren do? What did the church do even more strongly. Because you suffer persecution doesn’t me you clam up. And the church here continued to preach the word even though they were under intense persecution and when they being shut up in prison and forced to blaspheme and even die.

Acts 8:5 Acts 8:5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.
American King James Version×
“Then Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.”

Phillip was among the first ordained deacons, you remember that from chapter 6 verse 5 when the deacons were ordained. And later he was an evangelist.

Acts 21:8 Acts 21:8And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came to Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and stayed with him.
American King James Version×
we read “On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea and came to the house of Phillip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.”

Now what I want to do is give you a little bit of background about Samaria for a moment. As we move now into verse 5 on down because there is a story that is about to unfold. And once I get through it we will see if Mr. Antion has any comments to add , as well, once we get down to about verse 25 and kind of wrap it up. Samaria was populated by quite a number of Babylonians. Now you remember that the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms: Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Well, Samaria was in the northern kingdom. The Samaritans, those who lived there, believed in a Babylonian-Assyrian religious philosophy. Long before the appearance of Christianity. Their beliefs were mixed with paganism and some valid Old Testament teachings. And here is what happened. I am going to turn to 2 Kings17, if you want to keep your thumb in Act 8 but we are going to turn to 2 Kings17. The Jews of Christ’s time did not respect the Samaritans. The Samaritans were seen as being intermixed and not pure Israelites. There were several centuries of intermarrying between Syrian, Babylonian, and Israelite peoples because of the Syrian and Babylonian invasions and captivities in the centuries before. Remember the Syrians invaded the land, the Babylonians invaded the land, they carried people off, some came back. There came t be intermarrying going on between the people of God and the Syrians and Babylonians that are coming into the land. That was particularly in the northern kingdom, headquartered in Samaria. And there was hatred between the Samarian and Jewish peoples, quite a bit.

Let’s go to 2 Kings17:24 where we read an explanation of what took place. “ Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cu‘thah, and from Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharva’im, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.”

Verse 25 “And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord send lion among them, which killed some of them.” So these pagans, these Babylonians were there and the Syrians were being killed by lions.

Verse 26 “So they spoke to the king of Assyra, saying, “the nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land.”

Verse 27 “Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land.” So, perhaps if we learn the Israelite religion, the lion killings will stop.

Verse 28 “Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritan had made, every nation in the cites where they dwelt.” So they a\started to mix their own gods with what they were being taught by the Israelite priests.

Verse 33 “They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods” (So they mixed them both)--“ according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.”

Verse 41 “So these nations feared the Lord, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children’s children have continued doing as their father did, even to this day.”

So these are the Samaritans and, of course, you hear of many Samaritan stories in the New Testament. And so the Samaritans were looked down upon for being religiously impure, and even racially for not being fully Israelite. But intermarried with the locals in the land and their religion was mixed. And so there was a disdain for the Samaritans. Remember the Samaritan woman at the well, things like that. They looked down on them, didn’t want to talk to them.

So this is who we’re now dealing with in Acts 8:5 Acts 8:5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.
American King James Version×
- “Then Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.” So the gospel was being opened up to them.

Acts 8:6 Acts 8:6And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
American King James Version×
“And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” So miraculous events continued at the hands of the apostles through the power of the holy spirit that came upon them on the Day of Pentecost 4 years earlier. And because of the miracles people feared and they followed and they learned and they became converted. They heeded the things spoken by Philip because, notice verse 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.” So the early miracles in the church continued and the apostles had great power through the holy spirit. And there was great joy in that city, Samaria.

Verse 9 (Here is where the story gets a little more interesting, shall we say) “But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great.”

Let’s talk for a minute about Simon the sorcerer. History shows that this sorcerer was called Simon Magus. There is very compelling evidence that his full name was Simon Magus. He had a very popular following. He attempted to buy the power of God’s spirit from the apostles. And, as we’ll see, Peter soundly rebuked him for his self serving attitude. Simon Magus, Simon the Sorcerer, was a false teacher. And the apostle Paul, later in the epistle to the Corinthians, the Thessalonians, and to the Galatians spoke of many other false teachers in addition to this one. And near the end of the first century John, in his letters, wrote of the spirit of antichrist, of those that were anti-Christ. And said it was already at work in his time. And so we start to see a demonic influence on the church, a spiritual attack on the people of God. And this is one of the first notes of it here in the book of Acts.

I have 10 points for you to jot down in your notes about Simon the Sorcerer as we go forward. Just to kind of give you something to pinpoint as we go along. Of course we read in verse 9, first of all, that Simon was a Samaritan. So he was from that mixed background. The Assyrians and Babylonians in a mixed religion. Simon was a Samaritan. Secondly, Simon used demonistic powers. We read about that in verse 9. He practiced sorcery. We know that doesn’t come from God. That’s a demonic power, a demonic influence. And he claimed that he was someone great.

Another sorcerer was called Bar-jesus. And we read about him in Acts chapter 13, we will cover that in a couple weeks time. But Acts 13:6 Acts 13:6And when they had gone through the isle to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
American King James Version×
“Now when they had gone through the island to Pa’phos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a jew whose name was Bar-Jesus.”

It’s an interesting story I’ll read you a couple more verses.

Acts 13:7-10 Acts 13:7-10 [7] Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. [8] But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. [9] Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. [10] And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, you child of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
American King James Version×
“Bar-Jesus was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, o full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord” And here is what happened to Bar Jesus in verse 11 “and now indeed , the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time. And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.”

Acts 13:12 Acts 13:12Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
American King James Version×
“Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, very astonished by the teaching of the Lord.” So that’s another sorcerer that we read about later on in Acts chapter 13.

Let’s read Acts 8:10 Acts 8:10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
American King James Version×
now as we read more about Simon the sorceror. “He claimed that he was someone great to whom they all gave heed up in Samaria. From the least to the greatest saying this man is a great power of God.” I’d like to read you a note from our series on the Bible and archeology produced by the United Church of God. It from the chapter the book of Acts the church begins. These are written by Mario Seagley and this installment is from the Good news in September 2000. The 2 additionally points we glean here from verses 9 and 10 is, first of all, the Samaritans looked on Simon as a great prophet or man of God. And the 4th point I have here is that they actually saw Simon as a god, a great one. So some saw him as a great prophet and some saw him as a god. And we will see why in why in a moment. Here is what Mario Seagley said “As the gospel spread to the outlying areas of Israel, Peter arrived in Samaria to preach the word of God. There he met a magician named Simon who was baptized but was later rejected by Peter and John for trying to bribe his way into position of power and influence in the church. Nothing else is mentioned in scriptures about this shady character known in history as Simon Magus.” says Mr. Seagley. However about a century after Simon’s death writings appear after the apostles rejected him. I have a quote here from Justin Marter. Writing to the Romans, Justin Marter comments “There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gito, who in the reign of Claudius Caesar ad 41-54, in the royal city of Rome did mighty acts of magic by virtue of art of the devils creating in him.” So this is another historical record of what took place. “He was considered a God“, says Justin Marter. “And, as a god, was honored by a statue, erected by the river Tiber between 2 bridges and bore this inscription in the language of Rome: “ se money se money….” “to Simon the holy  god”. And to all the Samaritan and the nations worship him. That’s from the anti Nicene fathers publication. First apology of Justin. Page 171.

So the history of this biblical personage of Simon Magus, Simon the Sorceror, is also confirmed in other literature of the second and third centuries. Let’s read Acts 8:11 Acts 8:11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
American King James Version×
“And they heeded him, This is Simon the Sorceror, because he has astonished them with his sorcery a long time”

So this is kind of a 5th point about Simon that is he practiced these powers a long time. He wasn’t a newbie at this. He was quite an experienced preacher deceiving people. And now he came across this new message, this new religion, that the apostles were espousing. The apostles were having great success in preaching the truth, healing people, casting out evil spirits, and Simon took notice. He thought “This is an interesting situation that I might take advantage of in my work“. So Simon had practiced these powers for quite a long time.

And notice Acts 8:12 Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
American King James Version×
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” So the apostles’ preaching was effective, people were being baptized. And verses 12 through 17 are about baptism itself. Here we are reminded about the symbolism and the ritual practice of the baptism ceremony.

So this is 12 through 17. Notice Acts 8:13 Acts 8:13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
American King James Version×
“Then Simon himself also believed” (really? Ok, we’ll talk about that) “and when he was baptized he continued with Philip and was amazed seeing the miracles and signs that were done.” What we see here in verse 13 that Simon nominally became a Christian, in name only. Verse 13 says “He himself believed.” It was something he saw as an opportunity. This was not a deep conversion. He just, himself, believed. It wasn’t the holy spirit convicting his heart.

So that was my 6th point about Simon. He nominally became a Christian. And the 7th point I have about Simon is that he recognized Christ’s power was greater than his own. This was something he could really tap into and it would give him increased power and strength. He saw these miracles, he saw that it was greater than what he was doing, out of the miracles that he could perform with demonic help. He wanted a part of it.

Acts 8:14 Acts 8:14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John:
American King James Version×
(continuing on the baptism theme) : “And when the apostles of Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.” So the apostles went down to Jerusalem, they came up to Samaria, where Philip was preaching.

Acts 8:15 Acts 8:15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
American King James Version×
“Who, when they had come down preaching, prayed for them that they might receive the holy spirit” Now why is this necessary? 

Acts 8:16 Acts 8:16(For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
American King James Version×
“For as yet, it (the holy spirit) had fallen on none of them.” They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. This shows that when you are baptized there is also an additional step that is having hands laid upon you in order to complete the baptism ceremony and properly go through the procedure to receive the holy spirit. You recall that John the Baptist baptized many many people throughout the land, before Christ came on the scene with His ministry. Yet the many (I don’t know whether it was hundreds or thousands) that John the Baptist baptized, they had not yet had hands laid upon them. They had not received the Holy Spirit. And so the apostles came across several situations like this where people who had been baptized were ready to also have hands laid upon them and receive the holy spirit. A piece of the ceremony had not yet been performed or completed. Not that God cannot give you His holy spirit if He wishes, but the symbolism had not yet been completed. You’ll notice in Acts 8:17 Acts 8:17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
“they laid hands on them and they then received the holy spirit”.

And so these verses (12-17) are about baptism and the ceremony that we go through in that regard.

Acts 8:18 Acts 8:18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
American King James Version×
“And when Simon say that through the laying on of the apostles hand the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.” He saw that laying on of hands was necessary for receiving the holy spirit. And we are now entering a very very dangerous situation for Simon the Sorcerer. I might point out a couple of other instances that talk about the need of laying on of hands when being baptized in order to receive the holy spirit.

Acts 9:17 Acts 9:17And 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 Ghost.
American King James Version×
we read “and Ananias went his way and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said brother saw the Lord Jesus that appeared to you came and sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with holy spirit.” So Annanias had to lay hands on Paul for him to receive the holy spirit.

2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
American King James Version×
is just one more example of many.  Paul reminded Timothy: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.”  Laying on of hands being part of the baptism ceremony.

So, Acts 8:18 Acts 8:18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
American King James Version×
“when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles hands the holy spirit was given he offered them money.” Simon say that baptism was not enough. You had to have laying on of hands as well. So he wanted to buy his way in to this process so that he could he could do it to other people too. He thought that with money he could get the holy spirit and that he could go do it as well. Simon tried to buy apostleship. That’s the eighth point I have about Simon. He tried to buy apostleship. And that is in verses 18 through 21 where you see this. After all, the Samaritans saw him as the greatest religious leader of the age. They saw him even as a great God, according to Justin Marter. Simon was not so much interested in receiving the holy spirit for conversion himself as he was to receive the power and prestige it would bring to him personally so that he could have the power to go do what the apostles were doing. Maybe he thought it would produce in him more miracles himself. It was for his own exultation and he offered money, a bribe.

Acts 8:19 Acts 8:19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
“He said give me this power also so that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the holy spirit” This is an amazing account of an attempt to buy ones way into God’s kingdom. Simon Magus was looking for power to add to his sorcery. Acts 8:20 Acts 8:20But Peter said to him, Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
American King James Version×
“and Peter said to him, your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money.” And the New Kings James version has an exclamation point at the end of that sentence. You thought that you could buy the gift of God. You thought you could buy your way into the Kingdom of God. May you perish with your money. The Holy Spirit is a gift. It cannot be bought for money. You cannot buy your way into God’s church. You cannot buy your way into apostleship, or anything like that.

Now, as Mr. Antion alluded to at the beginning of the Bible study, Simony in our modern language in the dictionary, means the unworthy buying and selling of ecclesiastical offices. So, from this, we now say that if someone tries to buy their way into the priesthood, it’s an act of simony. Acts 8:21 Acts 8:21You have neither part nor lot in this matter: for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
American King James Version×
“You have neither part nor portion in this matter says Peter for your heart is not right in the sight of God.” So it is about Godly character not money. Character cannot be purchased. Acts 8:22 Acts 8:22Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
American King James Version×
“Repent therefore of this, your wickedness. And pray god if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” This was a wicken satanic attempt to grab power, to go around the process. And it required forgiveness of a very sinful act.

The 9th point I have about Simon here is that the original text indicates that peter pretty much knew that Simon would not repent, in verse 22. Peter was not expecting Simon to repent. And to heed these words. One translation says “Pray God that, if possible, the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” Peter doubted that it was even possible that Simon would repent of this. He asked for it but he did not believe that it would happen. Simon Magus was set in his ways and the path that he was taking.

Acts 8:23 Acts 8:23For I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
American King James Version×
“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Iniquity of course is lawlessness. “I see you have been poisoned by bitterness.” Simon Magus, the sorcerer had crossed a dangerous line, when it came to trying to buy his way into the church and verse 23 is seen as a prophecy. The Greek, more directly, is translated “Simon you art for a goal of bitterness and a fetter of unrighteousness.” This means that you are a cause of bitterness and corruption to others. Simon would become the adversary of the true church in the future. He was to be a fetter of unrighteousness of and gall of bitterness. A gall of bitterness is a figure of speech referring to idols and abominations of the heathen. And you read about that in Deuteronomy 29:16-18 Deuteronomy 29:16-18 [16] (For you know how we have dwelled in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which you passed by; [17] And you have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) [18] Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;
American King James Version×
“Their abominations and their idols which are among them are a root bearing bitterness among them or a wormwood” and that is what Peter was referring back to. This was a pagan satanic abomination of the heathen that he was placing upon Simon and saying in verse 23 that you are poisoned by this and you are this gall of bitterness that is spoken of through the history of Israel.

Simon was prophesied to bring idolatry and pagan beliefs into Christianity, is how I read it. Remember the warning in Revelation 3:9 Revelation 3:9Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
American King James Version×
in one of the letters to the churches “Indeed I will make you of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie, behold, I will make them to come and worship before they feet, and to know that I have loved you”  Indeed I see an evil influence entering into the church of God and Peter labels it for what it is and says to Simon, you are the gall of bitterness.

Here’s a quote from our booklet The Church Jesus Built, from a subsection titled subversion from within the church. “As the apostles strove to establish still more congregations of believers among the nations, a phenomenon arose that eventually produced an outwardly Christian religion but one quite different from the church Jesus and the apostles established. New and different doctrines were subtly introduced. Some began subverting the church, challenging and contradicting the teachings of Christ’s apostles. Paul warned, for there are many insubordinate idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision whose mouths must be stopped who subvert whole households teaching things which they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain, for money. That is Titus 1:10-11 Titus 1:10-11 [10] For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: [11] Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
American King James Version×
.

The booklet continues: “To counter this trend Paul instructed fellow elder Titus to carefully consider the background, knowledge, and character of any being considered for ordination. Especially after what Simon the Sorcerer tried to do. Increasingly false prophets and apostles began undermining the teachings of the true apostles of Christ.

And the booklet concludes in this section: Competing religious leaders masquerading as ministers of Christ began teaching their own false doctrines in opposition to Christ’s apostles and other faithful servants. The subversive doctrines that eventually grew to be the most influential were a blend of pagan and misguided Jewish philosophies like those in Samaria, synthesized with the mysticism popular at that time. Just like Simon the Sorcerer did. Simon the Sorcerer was one such false teacher mentioned early in the scriptures. And after his baptism by Philip Simon attempted to buy office of apostle from Peter, hoping to obtain the power to grant others the Holy Spirit. Motivated by greed for power and influence, he faked conversion and managed to baptism to appear Christian. And then the booklet concludes, Later, historical sources indicate that he blended various elements of paganism and mysticism into a counterfit Christian philosophy. We believe that Simon the Sorcerer was the beginning of a great false church.

Look at Acts 8:24-25 Acts 8:24-25 [24] Then answered Simon, and said, Pray you to the LORD for me, that none of these things which you have spoken come on me. [25] And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
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before I turn it over to Mr. Antion in a moment: “And Simon answered and said pray to the Lord for me that none of these things which you have spoken came upon me.” He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to perish with his money. Verse 25 “So when they had preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem preaching the gospel in many villages of Samaritans.”

Let me just close with this section of verse 25 and just say that I’ve been to Vatican City and seen the monuments that supposedly honor the 1st century apostles of God. And there they announce that they have the bones of the apostle Peter in the Papal basilica of St Peter. Based on my study and research, and upon the veracity of the scriptures, I do not believe this to be the case. I believe that it is entirely possible that the bones they have in St Peters cathedral are that of another Simon. St Peters basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. It is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It is being described as holding a unique position in the Christian world and is the greatest of all the churches in Christendom. And tradition holds that St. Peters tomb is directly below the alter of the basilica in an ancient grave. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. The journeys of Simon Peter do not even take him to Rome. The scriptures indicate most of Peter’s mission dealt not with Gentiles but with Jews, even Babylonian Jews. Paul mentioned that the gospel for the uncircumcised, the gentiles, “had been committed to me as the gospel for the circumcised, the Jews, was to Peter“. That’s in Galatians 2:7 Galatians 2:7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to me, as the gospel of the circumcision was to Peter;
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. So, I believe it’s entirely possible that the Vatican may have the bones of another Simon. Perhaps the sorcerer, the founder of a counterfeit Christianity. Certainly not the apostle Peter. That’s where I end.

Ok, thank you. A couple comments on that…When I was in college in 1962-1963 Dr. Ernest Martin at that time focused on Acts 8. And he wrote an extensive paper on Simon Magus with lots and lots of notes. In fact I have the original hand written forms. Because when I was visiting his office he was going to throw that away because somebody had just typed it up for him. So I asked him if I could have the handwritten one, which I have in my possession. And at that time, he had probably 30 pages worth of research and study and so on, some of which may not bear out factually. Some may have been leaps of assumptions. But a lot of these points that Mr. Eddington mentioned I just pulled out on my research paper that I had done based on the outline of what he did. The one thing he mentioned is the acts of the apostles  is the key, is the beginning of the true church, and the false church that runs right along side of it. And he mentioned this, that Acts only records the events actually necessary for God’s church to be clear about. I mean, there are many things you can say about the early church. Why on earth are you putting Simon Magus in here? Who cares if there was a magician who was baptized falsely? Why is he putting this in here? And this man who was called also Simon Pater, which meant Simon the father, can you confuse Simon Pater with Simon Peter? I think so.

Again, the reason for the account in Acts 8, not just the whole chapter, but this part, is to expose Simon as a leader and founder of the false system. And it is interesting that Babylon the great is called Babylonish mysteries. If you read Revelation 13, Revelation 17 and 18, you see that the great false system does sorceries and miracles in order to deceive. Simon was probably Simon Pater not Simon Peter. And Simon’s religion was established in the 2nd century there. He found, apparently, a former prostitute named Helen in Tyre who became his female principal to go along with him in the Babylonish system. And Simon claimed then he was the creator and he and Helen were worshipped under the titles of Lord and Lady. She also held the title of Queen of Evan. Take a look and see what the virgin Mary is called in certain churches of this world. Simon had priests and he also had images made of himself and Helen. Simon honored the eighth day of the week instead of the seventh. He died and was buried in a cemetery on Vatican Hill where chief gods of Rome were buried and likely had his bones moved. Simon’s teachings slipped into the universal church, the name Samaritan was dropped and Christian used. Interesting to find this here. Why would he even put this in here? So, I appreciated Mr. Eddington’s expounding on that.

Let’s go to Acts 8:26 Acts 8:26And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.
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. We are going to shift gears now. And, one other thing I wanted to share with you. It does not take an ordained man to lay hands. In fact Annanias in Acts 9:17 Acts 9:17And 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 Ghost.
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is not identified as a prophet, only as a member there. So he just called on him as a disciple. Either an ordained disciple or just a disciple. Many of our ministers on baptizing tours over the years, some of them were not led at all by any ordained minister. Some of them were just led by 2 men going out. But they were authorized to lay hands on people. But in this case where you had Peter and John but so large a number of individuals, when they notified Peter and John in Jerusalem that this had transpired, they were excited to come up and do it. Philip, later on we find, was called an evangelist, as well as his daughter, in Acts 21:8 Acts 21:8And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came to Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and stayed with him.
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. He was a deacon at this time, or could have been more than that. But here he is doing some pretty great works. It’s also interesting that he said BELIEVE. When they believed. Belief in baptism is very important. It doesn’t mean they didn’t repent. Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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always has to be factored in.

That’s one of the principles, one of the teachings for baptism. But also what was very strong was belief in Him. And also the name of Jesus Christ. He preached the gospel of the Kingdom.

Let me take you back to Acts 8:4 Acts 8:4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
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Therefore those that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” Verse 5 Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ.”

What did he preach? Did he say how tall Christ was? What his favorite food was? What his favorite baseball team was? What did he say? What did he talk about? His favorite color? He preached Christ. He would have talked about the characteristics of Jesus Christ. He talked about what this man stood for. He would have talked about his message. The name of Jesus Christ is absolutely vital if anybody is going to be saved Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
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tells us that. So , did he only preach Christ? Or did he preach Christ’s message?

Verse 12 “When they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God.” You have to know about the kingdom of God. You have to know what that better world, repent and believe the gospel. Preach that, too, and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. So belief in baptism is very important. I wanted to share that part with you.

Let’s go to verse 26: “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying arise,” Philip had just been in Samaria now he is back in Jerusalem. “and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”

This is the desert so He told him, like me telling you get onto to highway 50 and Eastman Drive. Doesn’t tell you anything else, just get down there, he knows there’s a road that goes down through Gaza and down toward the desert and likely down toward Africa. So he says, this is desert.

Verse 27 “so he arose and went.” That’s the story thus far from Luke. Luke goes on to describe “while he is standing there behold a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, the queen of Ethiopians, who had charge of all the treasury, had come to Jerusalem to worship was returning sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.”

So he is standing down there waiting for further instruction. God told him to go there. In the meantime, here comes this man, I always picture a Ben Hurr chariot (that’s a long way to ride standing in a chariot having somebody whip the horses. In all likelihood it was something more comfortable than that. And in all likelihood this man that was a eunuch of great authority who had charge of all of her treasury didn’t come 400 miles from Ethiopia to Jerusalem in a little Ben Hurr chariot. He obviously had a water wagon, food wagon, change of clothing wagon, servants wagon, and guards along with him because it would have been dangerous to travel that far all by himself. So, in all likelihood there were a number of chariots or wagons there.

So he arose and he went and here this man’s coming by and notice it says he had great authority. He’s a eunuch. If he truly were a eunuch, which means he was castrated, he would not have been fully accepted into the Jewish community because of the scriptures in the Old Testament that proscribe that, that do not allow for that to take place. And as a result he is not going to be accepted fully. He’s called a God fearer, in all likelihood he would have either been a Jew from Ethiopia or truly an Ethiopian who heard about God’s way of life, was disgusted with the multiple gods and came all the way to Jerusalem to worship the one God and have some sense of moral standing. So, here he comes along his way, he’s wealthy, and Candace, by the way is not necessarily a “queen”. It is not an individual queens name. Candace is a name given to many queens, kind of like Caesar is given to many of the emporers of Rome. 

Verse 24 “and he was returning and sitting in his chariot reading Isaiah the prophet,” Now I don’t know about you but my wife doesn’t have an easy time reading in the car. Some people get carsick went hey look down and try to read and this is reading plainly printed words. How would you like to be reading a handwritten scroll, because that is all they had in those days, as you are bumping along and you don’t have shock absorbers or suspension systems on these carts, and you don’t have improved road systems. So, you’re bouncing along as you ride on this cart and yet he is enduring this difficulty and still trying to read the scriptures. So he is reading in the book of Isaiah, maybe only a part of Isaiah, because how many scrolls would it have taken, Isaiah being 66 chapters?

Remember, too, they didn’t have chapters and verses back in those days. So, he was returning, reading it, and in that moment when he was reading one particular section of scripture, the spirit of God inspired Philip to go run up beside that chariot and notice, “then the spirit said to Philip, go then and overtake this chariot” It was only one chariot. He didn’t say go the THE chariot, he said go to THIS chariot and pointed out the one he needed to go to. So Philip goes running alongside. I guess the horse was trotting or walking. He wasn’t galloping, wasn’t pulling the chariot or he wouldn’t have been able to keep up. So he ran over there. “Philip ran to him” verse 30 “and he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said do you understand what you are reading?”

First of all, many times in the Middle East when people read, they didn’t just read with their eyes, as many of us do. They read aloud, even though they were reading it to themselves. They read aloud. So he was reading aloud to himself this section of scripture in Isaiah. Continuing in verses 30-31 “And Philip said ‘Do you understand what you are reading? And the man said ‘How can I unless someone guides me?” Now what if every time you sit down to Bible study if you had to call one of us ministers and say “I am about to study the Bible and I can’t understand what I’m reading. Can you please come sit down and help me.” Most cases you can understand it. But when is it you that you might want to ask somebody for help? When you get stumped. When you don’t know what this is talking about. He had come to a section of scripture when the spirit of God told Philip, “run over there and go to him, you can reach him now.” And , again, “He ran to him and he heard him reading Isaiah and he said ‘do you know what you are reading’ and the man said ‘how can I except someone should guide me’ and he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.”

We learn several things from this. First of all, he’s teachable. If I am studying the Bible and someone runs up to me and says “do you know what you’re reading” and I say “no I don’t” how do I know he’s going to help me? But he might be able to say “I can help you, I know what that’s talking about”. And the man was teachable because he said “come, tell me, teach me, show me”.

It’s also something interesting that Philip would have been conversant with the scriptures. And, look folks, we’ll see in Acts 17 where is says that the Baryons were more noble than those is Thessalonica that they searched the scriptures daily. You know what you probably had to do? You probably had to first search FOR the scriptures in order to search the scriptures. Scriptures weren’t abundant like they are now. You had to find where those scriptures are then you had to find the scriptures because if it is written in Isaiah, good luck! We now know it has 66 chapters but it didn’t have chapters or verses back then. You had to really know your Bible or the scriptures that were available in order to help others.

May I just point out that usually the Jews had to go to the Synagogue to read the scrolls. The Ethiopian eunuch obviously had some money behind him if he had his own version. The queen had given him his own version.

So it was something precious. You just didn’t have those around handy. You had to find them. So again it says He said ‘how can I except somebody guide me?’ and he asked Philip to come up. So he was very teachable. He was willing to be taught. He was yielded.

Verses 32-33 “The place of the scripture which he read was this, he was led as a sheep to the slaughter as a lamb before his shearer so he didn’t open his mouth and his humiliation, his justice was taken away …..from the earth” 

Verse 34 (this comes from Isaiah 53:7-8 Isaiah 53:7-8 [7] He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. [8] He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
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which we were reading a lot about as we prepared for Passover. It is one of those great verses that we will likely be reading on Passover evening and to ourselves and studying beforehand.)  “And the Eunuch answered Philip and said ‘I asked of whom does the prophet say ….or some other man” So, here was the reason, right at the juncture when he was reading this he is having questions. “What is this talking about? Is Isaiah writing about himself or is he talking about someone else? Who is this referring to?” And, at that very moment, that’s when Philip come running up and he says “Do you understand what you are reading?” And the man says “No, I am frustrated. I don’t know who this is talking about”. Philip must have said “I can help you, I know of that man, I know what that’s about.” And the Eunuch was willing and teachable.

Verse 35 “Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning at this scripture preached Jesus to him.” He used the old Testament to bring this man to salvation, to conversion. And, in fact, in 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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Paul told Timothy “you who from a child has known the scriptures” The only scriptures were the Old Testament “which will make you wise to salvation”.

Now, what’s interesting to me is that when I go back and I look at Isaiah 53, 54, and 55, if that is all I had I could tell somebody about conversion. Do you know that? Isaiah 53, I could tell them about Jesus Christ and how he took upon Him our sins, whose 1 life was poured out on behalf of many to take upon Him our iniquities. I could go to Isaiah 54 and talk about the time when God’s kingdom is going to be here. When He says “I have forsaken you for a small moment but with great mercies I will gather you”. And it talks about millennial scriptures. Talking about the kingdom. And in Isaiah 55 I could teach them about repentance. Let the wicked forsake his way. Let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts. Let him return to God and He will abundantly pardon. And, in fact, when I counsel for baptism I do use Isaiah 55 in talking about repentance. Isaiah 53, Christ, Isaiah 54, the Kingdom, Isaiah 55, repentance. He knows what to believe. He knows what belief is about. And he also knows about repentance. And I truly believe, in this case, he covered all three. I think when he talked about Jesus Christ, notice what happens.

Verse 36  “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water.”  And the eunuch said ‘hey, here’s water! What do I lack for being baptized? They may have been talking about Jesus and when talking about Jesus been led to His death. Talking about His death led to “why did he die?” “Because He had to take upon Him our sins.” “And how to we get to have our sins taken upon Him?”  “By repentance.” So the topic must have come up. Otherwise, if I am just telling you about Jesus, how he did wonderful miracles, walked the earth, he was a perfect man, he was a great person, he was honorable, he was god in the flesh. Why does that lead you to want to be baptized unless that topic had come up? He sees a body of water and he says “what do I lack for being baptized?”. Now who knows how long they were riding this time.

Philip, probably sitting with him now in verse 37 “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  If you believe. Remember what belief is? Faith with works. He believed enough. And, again, obviously at that time Philip did not have a chance to see fruits of repentance but he believed in what he saw in this man, the conviction, the courage, the submission and he answered and said I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Do you know what else he did? He also claimed to believe in the resurrection. He didn’t just think Jesus Christ WAS the Son of God. He said He IS the Son of God. How IS he still the Son of God? By a resurrection from the dead. So now he believes in the other part of baptism: burial, resurrection, and hope of eternal life.

So he commanded the chariot to stand still and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him. In John 3: 22-23 you find them coming up out of the water. In Mark 1: 9 tells us there was much water there. If he was going to pour a cupful water over his head or sprinkle him there was no need to go into the water. Jesus Christ was baptized IN Jordan. Into or inside of. And straightaway coming out of the water. Jesus Christ was baptized there.

John 3:22-23 John 3:22-23 [22] After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. [23] And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
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“After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Ae‘non near to Sa‘lim, because there was much water there, and they came, and were baptized.”  Why do you need much water? Not just a cupful poured across the head? That is one church’s way of baptizing. Or sprinkle. Do either of those picture a burial? I will not let someone put my mother or father on the ground and throw some sand on them and say they are buried. And to say that baptism is anything but immersion is ridiculous.  It’s like saying “how do you want to go skiing? Do you like to skidoo? Ice skate? Or do you like to sled? Hmmmm, do any of those mean ski? No, they are snowy ice cold events but they are not skiing. To say baptize means I’m immersing. To say baptizing is to sprinkle or pour is not really fit. And, I think it was Barkley that was pointing out that baptism in the early years was done by immersion but as time went on they could pour or sprinkle based on some knowledge about 128AD of someone having water poured on them instead of literally being baptized. The big picture of being baptized is being buried. Colossians 2:12 Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.
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“buried with him in baptism” Which pictures a burial not throwing a cupful of sand on them.

So he was down at the water, they baptized him. Collossians 2: 13 “Now they came up and the Spirit of the Lord (God’s power) caught Philip away so that the Eunich saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing” I bet the angels were, too, in heaven. “And Philip was found at Azotes” About 20 miles away at least “and, passing through, he preached at all the cities until he came to cesarea.” So, after he did his job, the spirit of God caught Philip away. You know, the tradition says that this Ethiopian eunuch went back to Ethiopia and preached the word of God there. So you have the conversion and what it also shows is how important it is for people to believe, to examine their belief system before they are ever baptized. Do I really believe in the Kingdom of God? Do I really believe in Jesus Christ? Do I really believe God can forgive me of my sins? Do I really believe that I need the change?  Do I really believe in the Bible? Do I really believe that God can supply the grace? Do I really believe He exists? They need to have their belief system intact before they’re baptized…a good example there.

I want to start in Chapter 9. I won’t do much of Chapter 9.  Now remember that the book of Acts is mainly about Peter and Paul. And so you have most of the first section is several chapters all about Peter. Now we shift gears and Paul enters the scene. Acts 9, to me, is a very key chapter. I will teach on it this summer in our Cinncinnati seminars  in June 6th through 9th with Mr. Luker, Mr. Dean, Mr. Stiver, Mr. McCraty, Mr. Kubik and I will all have some time. Some of us will have like 6 hours, others will have 2. But to have a good variety this summer we have four days jammed pack of continuing ed. We encourage anybody out there who wants to come be here in Cinncinnati June 6th through 9th. We only have it 4 days this year because Pentecost is on the 12th. We wanted to give that Friday for people to travel back home to be able to be there for Sabbath and Pentecost.)

Acts 9:1-2 Acts 9:1-2 [1] And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, [2] And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
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“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest.” See he goes to the high priest and he gets a letter that authorizes him. Apparently the San Hedron or the high priest thought he had control over the Jews everywhere in the world. It was like “go kill them, anywhere you want to! Go get ‘em!” “and he went to the high priest and he asked letters of him to the synagogues of Damascus so that if he found any that were of the way…” Gods teaching are called the way. Why is it Jesus Christ said “I am the way”? And being a Christian is a way of life. “…either men or women he might bring them, bound, to Jerusalem.”

So, it is about 140 miles from Jerusalem to Damascus. So he begins this journey. Acts 9:3-4 Acts 9:3-4 [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 persecute you me?
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“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly…” This is noontime according to Acts 26:13 Acts 26:13At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
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as he recounted his story in some of his defenses he said it was at midday. “…a light shined around him from heaven.” Now some say that area is frequented with thunderstorms and lightening. I am not saying it was that. It could be that God could send lightening if He wanted to. But whatever it was it was direct from God to him. This wasn’t some natural happening, this was a situation that God generated. “…then he fell to the ground” and it was so bright that it caused him to fall to the ground “and he heard a voice saying to him: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Well Saul could have replied, ‘I’m persecuting you, Lord, I’m just hitting Your people. I am not doing it to You, I wouldn’t do it to You. But your people I am beating on them. But you know what Jesus Christ feels: ‘You hurt my people, you hurt Me.’ Why? Because if you don’t punch me in the face but you stomp on my toe, you’ve hurt me. You don’t have to hit me in the head to hurt me. Right? Jesus Christ is the head of the body, His church. You hit the body, he says “why are you persecuting me? In verse 5 Saul said  “…who are you, Lord? Who is speaking to me? He hears His voice. Then the Lord said ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; it is hard for thee to kick against the goads.”

It is hard for you to kick against the goads. And this kicking, it is like on the wagons. They used to have sharp pointed sticks sticking out so that those oxen or horses when they kicked back against the person, if they kicked back too far, they get jabbed by that goad and it would cause them not to do it anymore. So he says “you kick against the goad, you are going to get injured’. 

Verses 6-7 “So he, trembling and astonished, said Lord, what do you want me to do?” Here was a sudden conversion. I am not all for sudden conversions. I wish there were more. But I like to look at people and know because I have seem some people turn one way and it’s like the seed that falls on stony ground and any trouble that comes about makes it fall over. But this was a conversion, a sudden conversion. Notice his attitude. Here’s this bitter caustic hateful destructive man and now he says ‘lord what do you want me to do?’ So the Lord says “arise and go into the city. You will be told what you must do. And the men that journeyed with him stood speechless. Hearing the voice but seeing noone.” They couldn’t figure out what was going on here. Verses 8-10 Then Saul arose from the ground and when his eyes were opened he say no one.”  So, he must have had his eyes closed feeling blinded. “…and they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus and he was 3 days without sight and neither ate nor drank. So he was so troubled that he wouldn’t eat anything. Now there was a certain disciple in Damascus named Ananias and to him the Lord said to him in a vision and Ananias said “Here I am, Lord”

So, if you ever hear the Lord calling you just say, “Here I am , Lord” Just make sure it is the Lord and don’t listen to too many visions. I have had so many people tell me visions and they always break down, telling me about this dream. And I ask one or two questions and I shatter their dreams. Because I ask how they know that it was John talking. Did John come with a sign? Do you know what John looks like? You don’t. And some say the devel was in this. They ask what the devil looks like. Red? Horns? What does the Bible say the devil appears as?
An angel of light. OOOPs. But he was carrying a cross! Now why would God be carrying a cross? A pagan symbol? So, anyway, I’ve heard my share of dreams, so if you hear something make sure it is the right kind. And then after he said to Him “here I am“. Verses 11-13 “The Lord said to him, rise and go to a street called straight. And inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus. For behold he is praying.” Saul is already in a malleable condition. “ And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias (I have shown him you are coming) coming in and putting his hands on him that he might receive his sight. Ananias answered…” Ananias was bold enough to talk to God. And God doesn’t mind if you reason with Him.  He just doesn’t want you to reason against Him. He doesn’t mind if you complain to Him. He wants you to not complain against Him. “Ananias said to Him; ‘Lord, I’ve heard many things about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.”

So, the word had gotten out about so many saints thrown in jail. He heard about it and he said in Verses 14-16 “here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that come in Your name. We’ve heard he’s coming hire. But the lord said to him go for he is a chosen vessel of Him. To bear my name before the gentiles. Kings and the children of Israel for I will show him things he much suffer for my name’s sake.”

Romans 11:13 Romans 11:13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office:
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tells you Jesus Christ called Paul to be the apostle to the gentiles. Verse 17 “ Ananias went his way and entering the house laying his hands on him he said brother Saul the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the holy spirit.” So he laid hands on him and, interestingly, he received the spirit before he was baptized. That’s unusual. There are a couple of instances where it happened but they say can anybody forbid baptism. Verse 18 “and immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales. He received  his sight at once and he arose and was baptized.”

So he had already received the holy spirit but he still went through the act of baptism. Verse 19 “And when he received food he was strengthened. And then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.”

Now I am going to stop there. I won’t finish this part. There is too much to go into and I don’t want to short change you. Just whip over it and I will save it for next time. But I want to share with you what it would have been like to have a chief persecutor of the church now on your side. A chief enemy now your minister, friend, advocate. I mean, think of the encouragement it must have been. Oh yeah, to start with they must have thought it was just a ploy, for him to join with you and know who you were and then persecute you. So they were suspicious of him until Barnabus, a very good guy, a very encouraging man, a comforting man, took him and gave him a chance.

As Barkley points out, we should thank God for Barnabus. The apostle Paul wrote 14 books in the new testament, did mighty works for any of us who were gentiles. I am a gentile. I have God to thank that Paul was the one to go out to the gentiles, to take care of them, look after them. Thank you, that Barnabus was will to give Paul a chance. It’s an awesome think to think that God can convert anybody. I remember one man that is still in the church in one of the areas that I pastured. His wife wanted to be baptized and he was almost bitter. And the next Sabbath when she came to church he came with her. He came into the room and he said “Please, I want to be baptized. I understand now.” And I did a little bit of counseling and we ended baptizing him. I thought it was really fast. He is still in the church, in United, some 40 years later. Sometimes it does happen. People can turn and change rapidly. But I will stop there with the inspiration of the scriptures. What God can do is amazing. How he can bring about conversion, and healing which we will see in this chapter, he can raise the dead and heal people’s infirmities of many years. Never discount. And read the scriptures for encouragement. Any questions?

God told Paul it wasn’t going to be easy. He said “you are going to suffer greatly for My namesake.” And he did. It wasn’t easy…prison, chains.

Also the apostle Paul had to look around at the congregations and see the faces of people whose relatives were rotting away in prison because of him. That must have been a humbling experience throughout his life. People whose wives and husbands had been put to death because of him. Children whose parents were rotting in prison because of him. It must have been very sobering. A girlfriend whose boyfriend was in prison because of him. Very sobering

It is quite an amazing story, really. Just imagine if you are walking down the aisle her towards the kitchen and suddenly there is a blinding flash of light and suddenly you are slammed to the ground and you are blind and a voice starts talking to you. It was pretty dramatic. 

Two questions came in. The first one says we have a tube of arm and hammer toothpaste which has baking soda in it. Just wanted to know what your thoughts are on this for the Days of Unleavened Bread. I am probably going to throw it away, regardless of what your answer may be. I doubt I could make bread rise with the toothpaste (taste funny too, I imagine). But just knowing it has baking soda in it makes me feel uncomfortable to keep it.

It is the Days of Unleavened Bread, as we know, and we put out products that would cause our dough to rise. The baking soda in the toothpaste has lost its leavening power. So, I don’t think you have to throw out your toothpaste if it has baking soda in it, right?

I have heard it said that these are not the days of unleavened toothpaste and whatever. But, frankly, if it were me, I would probably throw it out anyway. I mean, if your teeth are going to suffer for using colgate for a few days then maybe you want to reconsider. I know people who use regular baking soda to brush their teeth, that’s what they have been using and since that is what they use it for they don‘t, but if you are uncomfortable, just throw it out. It won’t break your bank to buy new toothpaste. I have had people say that they believe if they are using baking soda to brush their teeth and they keep it in the medicine cabinet, they believe it is ok to keep it.

Well, you could make bread rise with it though.

Second question: Would you please elaborate on the difference in the New Testament church offices of bishop and elder? Now if we turn to 1 Timothy 3:1 1 Timothy 3:1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.
American King James Version×
“This is a true saying that if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop them must be blameless, the husband of one wife…” SO there the ordination is simply called bishop. If you go to Titus 1:5 Titus 1:5For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you:
American King James Version×
“For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you. If any be blameless the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless.” Obviously we are talking about the same thing here, either elder or bishop. It is talking about the same office and the same ordination process. It is a synonym. Go to 2 Corinthians 6:4 2 Corinthians 6:4But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
American King James Version×
(It’s actually called something else) “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God..” The servants of God. So there are many terms used to describe the servants of God….the bishops, the elders. Mr. Antion, do you have anything to add to that?

Yeah, the bishop is one that would be considered an overseer and certainly all elders should look over the flock, should care for the flock. It came to be used by the Episcopals. Bishop become more of a rank. And an elder was one who was more stabilized in the church area. It says ordain elders in Titus in every city. So there was an actual elder ordination that came later on. In Ephesians it talks about different ranks based on what people did, whether they were evangelizing or sent with a message or whether they were more of a teacher or pastor. The one thing to know is that in 1 Peter 5:1 1 Peter 5:1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
American King James Version×
Peter, who we knew is an apostle, said “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder”  So, all those that are ordained are elders and some may have responsibility of a pastor to over see the flock. A pastor has the responsibility to organize to deal with situations that perhaps an elder in his congregation would not do. Not that he’s not authorized or skilled to do. So, there are situations where there is training of pastors, where they ride shotgun over a period of months. I did this in England in a visiting program then I came back and I rode shotgun again for another 2,3, or 4 months before I was ever ordained. I knew I saw, I observed what pastors did on a long term basis. So, I knew what to do. And certainly we can all use our own personalities. But all elders should be overseers, looking over and taking care of the flock. And all overseers should be elders, regardless of their position or job is. They are still elders. They will care for the flock and they are elders spiritually. Their character and their knowledge of the scriptures.

Now, I will tell you something, I was in Buffalo, New York this past Sabbath and I had the opportunity to ordain a man 47 years old. I knew him when he was 1. He used to come up and grab my pantleg I knew his family and I even called him by a takeoff of his own name which he still uses today. But I had the opportunity to ordain him. He is knowledgable of the scriptures, he speaks well, and he has been a deacon for a number of years and he is in an area that had no elder right there in Buffalo, which, by the way, had 48 in attendance. Last time I went up there, there were 17. You know what is really unique? 21 out of the 48 are children under 14. And a lot of them are a lot younger than 14. So, as a church, half are children, and he has 3 or 4 of his own. But he’s a really fine person. He’s an elder in the area, not yet a pastor, but he speaks, counsels, encourages, visits, and that is his job up there. But I was just talking about ordination and I thought of him. He’s not a pastor yet but we have men that have been bumped up to pastor that have been elders. Len Martin is an elder from up in Mansfield area. He is going to go to Boston to be a pastor. He has been moved up to pastor. We’re going to have a new pastors’ training class in May before the council of elders. So many of the new pastors are coming in, giving them a crash course in being a pastor so that they can have a little more understanding and go out into those areas with some knowledge. I hope it helps to understand.

So this has been an interesting Bible Study. We want to thank all the men who set this up every time and the audience for coming here. The next one is scheduled 2 weeks from now. It will be Steve Myers and myself doing that one in 2 weeks. That’s just after the Days of Unleavened Bread. We wish you all a wonderful Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Sabbath as well. So, good night and thanks for tuning in.