Acts 11

Jun 30, 2019 // By:Dave // No Comment

A good way to describe this chapter is “how can we join what God is doing?” or “Faithfully Flexible”

Too many of us expect God to join our endeavors or fit into our lives (as if God was a new lamp you buy somewhere and now need to find a nice place in your home to make it fit

That approach puts us in charge of God work, His plan, His timing 

How’s that working so far ?

The basic question is:

“Who is following who?”

  • Often we think we are following God but stay in the box we either saw or read that God built …
  • Old boxes are not how God works 
  • The old boxes are how He did something once …
  • The boxes are religious in nature 
  • The box is not God 
  • God must often destroy the box to get us back outside to live in Him 

Our boxes create blind spots in our lives , that why it’s better and safer for believers to come together to figure out what God might be doing since our blind spots (boxes) are not the same and we can see things for one another (that we would not see alone)

Here is a series of a box in box …

  • Only Jews are called by God
  • Only Jews can know God
  • Only Jews can follow Christ (who is God)

The followers in Jerusalem with Peter and Paul and Barnabas are going to end up , over the next few chapters, working together to see outside of the box 

“Faithfully flexible”

1 Now the apostles and athe brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

do you think they will be excited about the news ?

2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, 1athose who were circumcised took issue with him,

3 saying, “aYou 1went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

4 But Peter began speaking 1and proceeded to explain to them ain orderly sequence, saying,

5 “aI was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw ba vision, an 1object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from 2the sky; and it came right down to me,

6 and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it 1I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the 2crawling creatures and the birds of the 3air.

7 “I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; 1kill and eat.’

8 “But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing 1unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

This is like walking into Petco, looking over the mice, gerbils, lizards, snakes, …

“hmmm what to eat, what to eat?”

  • Peter is basically saying “no” to God 
  • He is also rationalizing it with a box
  • He is more committed to his box (labeled God) than he is to God Himself

We do this too !

We use our boxes to justify saying no as well 

  • this is how I have always served God
  • This is all i know, 
  • this is how I’ve always gotten things done, 
  • this is how I cope with stress…

9 “But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘aWhat God has cleansed, no longer 1consider unholy.’

10 “This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into 1the sky.

11 “And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from aCaesarea.

12 “aThe Spirit told me to go with them 1bwithout misgivings. cThese six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house.

now the meaning of the vision becomes maybe …“call no man unclean whom I have called clean”

this is a big thing. 

(it’s not the whole picture, this is just a hole knocked into the side of the box to let a little light in)

the jews considered gentiles unclean (even letting their clothes touch a gentile made them unclean (according to the pharisees rules (not Gods)

(this was one of the many boxes created by Judaism, in an attempt to honor God but it ceases to honor Him when it stops men from following God’s leading)

Gen 12:2-3

And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing

And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Acts 1:8

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

as a result of Acts 1:8, Acts 8:1 takes place.  God said He wanted them out and He meant it.

13 “And he reported to us how he had seen the angel 1standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here;

14 and he will speak awords to you by which you will be saved, you and ball your household.’

15 “And as I began to speak, athe Holy Spirit fell upon them just bas He did upon us at the beginning.

16 “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘aJohn baptized with water, but you will be baptized 1with the Holy Spirit.’

17 “Therefore if aGod gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, bwho was I that I could 1stand in God’s way?

18 When they heard this, they 1quieted down and aglorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the brepentance that leads to life.”

19 ¶ aSo then those who were scattered because of the 1persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way 2to bPhoenicia and cCyprus and dAntioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.

20 But there were some of them, men of aCyprus and bCyrene, who came to cAntioch and began speaking to the 1dGreeks also, 2epreaching the Lord Jesus.

21 And athe hand of the Lord was with them, and ba large number who believed turned to the Lord.

22 The 1news about them 2reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent aBarnabas off 3to bAntioch.

23 Then when he arrived and 1witnessed athe grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with 2resolute heart to remain true to the Lord;

24 for he was a good man, and afull of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And bconsiderable 1numbers were 2brought to the Lord.

25 And he left for aTarsus to look for Saul;

Why does Barnabas go for Saul ?

  1. He is a Jew (trained in the Word and laws of Judaism) (Phil 3 “pharisee of pharisees, tribe of benjamin, circumsized on the 8th day…)
  2. He is well familiar with Greek culture (i.e. he quotes 
  • Epimendides
  • Aratus
  • Menander (who quoted Euripedes) 
  • during his Mar’s Hill dialog in the Areopagus in Ephesus)
  • Acts 17:28, “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.'”
    • “The first part of verse 28 comes from Cretica by Epimenides, and the second part of the verse from Hymn to Zeus, written by the Cilician poet Aratus. To be sure, both of these lines were directed at Zeus in Greek literature, but Paul applied them to the Creator of whom he spoke.”1
    • Paul quoted “the first half of the fifth line, word for word, of an astronomical poem of Aratus, a Greek countryman of the apostle, and his predecessor by about three centuries. But, as he hints, the same sentiment is to be found in other Greek poets. They meant it doubtless in a pantheistic sense; but the truth which it expresses the apostle turns to his own purpose—to teach a pure, personal, spiritual Theism.”2
  • 1 Cor. 15:33, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
    • “a current saying, forming a verse in MENANDER, the comic poet, who probably took it from Euripides [SOCRATES, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16].”3
    • “The words “Bad company ruins good morals” are found in a play by Menander (4th-3rd century B. C.) but may well have become a common saying by Paul’s time.”4
    • “Evil communications corrupt good manners. An iambic line from the ‘Thais’ of Menander, and perhaps taken by Menander from a play of Euripides. More accurately it means “evil associations corrupt excellent morals.”5
  • Titus 1:12, “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
    • “Epimenides of Phaestus, or Gnossus, in Crete, about 600. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollution occasioned by Cylon. He was regarded as a diviner and prophet. The words here are taken probably from his treatise “concerning oracles.” Paul also quotes from two other heathen writers, ARATUS (Ac 17:28) and MENANDER (1 Co 15:33), but he does not honor them so far as even to mention their names.6
    • “A prophet of their own; viz. Epimenides, a native either of Phæstus or of Cnossus in Crete, the original author of this line, which is also quoted by Callimachus. Epimenides is here called a prophet, not simply as a poet, but from his peculiar character as priest, bard, and seer; called by Plato θεῖος ἀνήρ and coupled by Cicero with Bacis the Boeotian prophet, and the sibyl (Bishop Ellicott); described by other ancient writers as a prophet (Alford).”7
  1. He has Roman citizenship.
  • right to a trial
  • right to appeal decisions
  • right to remain safe from torture before conviction
  • Rome could not simply make Paul conveniently disappear
  • In fact, his citizenship meant that Roman officials had to keep Paul safe even when others wanted him dead (Acts 23, Claudius Lysias “came with the guard and rescued [Paul]” when Paul was “seized by the Jews and about to be killed by them” after he learned that Paul was a Roman citizen. Claudius Lysias also provided “two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen” in order to transport Paul to Caesarea safely when group of Jews plotted to kill an arrested Paul.)
  1. He has burden for evangelism (not to mention, a demonstrable willingness to think outside the box.

26 and when he had found him, he brought him to aAntioch. And for an entire year they 1met with the church and taught considerable 2numbers; and bthe disciples were first called cChristians in aAntioch.

27 ¶ Now 1at this time asome prophets came down from Jerusalem to bAntioch.

what does “came down” mean?

(Antioch is North of Jerusalem (the “down” refers to reduction of altitude)

28 One of them named aAgabus stood up and began to indicate 1by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine ball over the 2world. 3And this took place in the reign of cClaudius.

Josephus tells of a particularly severe famine in Palestine about A.D. 45–47

This famine would be the result of the flooding of the Nile River in AD 45. The harvest of Egypt, breadbasket of the region, was damaged greatly by the flood. This sent grain prices skyrocketing throughout the Roman world for years, including in Judea 

29 And in the proportion that any of athe disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the 1relief of bthe brethren living in Judea.

30 aAnd this they did, sending it 1in charge of bBarnabas and Saul to the celders.

gentiles sending relief to Jews (knowing that many of them still did not accept them)

What is God doing now ?

what box is He inviting each of us to tear down and rethink our box called “our faith walk”?

what would it look like, or sound like, if God actually revealed to you, “it’s time to get out of this box”?

I asked the previous question in future tense (makes things easier and safer to consider when we think of them happening in the future…

but …

now … ask “ what is God doing now, today?”

this moment?

what box is stopping any of us from following Jesus?

  • in our choices to make
  • trials to trust through
  • “fill in the _________________blank”

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