Acts 9:25

Nifty rock designs in the Utal hills.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket. Acts 9:25

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Because of the plot to kill Paul, and because the gates were watched day and night, we now read, “Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.” The action of the verse is missing in this translation. Young’s gives a better sense –

“and the disciples having taken him, by night did let him down by the wall, letting down in a basket.”

Because of this, Young’s will be used to understand what is going on. The words, therefore, begin with, “and the disciples having taken him.”

It wasn’t just a sudden knee-jerk reaction, but a carefully planned event. They were able to secure what was needed, they were able to have an appropriate location for what they planned, and they had taken Paul and readied him. From there, it says, “by night did let him down by the wall.”

Rather than “by the wall,” as if they used the wall to sort of help the process of rappelling down, it says, “through the wall.” This is understood from 2 Corinthians 11:33 –

“but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.”

During the night when no one would be able to see what was going on, the disciples were able to help Paul with his escape in this manner. The sense is that there was either a window directly in the wall of the city that could be barred up during a siege, or the sides of the house rose above the wall of the city and there was a window in the wall that would allow for this to take place. Both are seen in walled cities of antiquity. Luke then finishes the thought with, “letting down in a basket.”

The Greek word is spuris. It is a large basket such as was seen in Matthew 15:37 during the feeding of the four thousand by Jesus. It would have been plaited or braided, and it could have been made of rope or possibly wicker.

Because of its size, some translations add in a descriptor and say, “large basket.”

Life application: In 1 Corinthians 11, the whole paragraph concerning Paul’s adventure says –

“If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.” 1 Corinthians 11:30-33

Paul ties in the lowering of him down in this manner with his “infirmity.” In other words, he was unlike the spies of Israel who went into Jericho. There it says –

“Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. 16 And she said to them, ‘Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.’” Joshua 2:15, 16

These two spies were young (Joshua 6:23) and capable of rappelling down the wall by themselves. Paul was not. He was infirm and had to be let down in a basket, probably something that he was lovingly razzed about over the subsequent years. The tone of his words somewhat points to a state of ridicule over the event.

Despite the humor, the point is that Paul was assisted by others in his ministry in a way that seems unimportant to it, and yet it could not have continued without this happening. As such, the most seemingly innocuous assistance at one point in time may turn out to be something of the greatest importance later in time.

Therefore, we should not dismiss our seemingly small and relatively unimportant help in the church. What you do may not be noticed, it may not appear huge or grandiose, but consider the fact that if you don’t do the things you do, that may have the greatest impact on other things that are visibly great to people’s eyes. Well, if those things didn’t get done without you, then aren’t your efforts a critical part of what was finally realized?

Be content that you and your efforts, like the unnamed disciples that helped Paul because of his infirmities, are ultimately having the greatest impact in the lives of others.

Lord God, when we go out to a nice restaurant, it wouldn’t be a great experience if the dishes were to come out with food from someone’s previous meal still on them. The clean dishes had to get that way somehow. The things that seem unimportant actually have great value in the finished product. Help us to understand this concerning our own lives in the church. May our small contributions have a great and lasting effect. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 9:24

Hideko at a camping site table in Utah at night.

Monday, 8 August 2022

But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Acts 9:24

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

It was previously seen that the Jews plotted to kill Saul (Paul). That now continues with, “But their plot became known to Saul.” Luke states this as a fact but without explaining how it became known. The odds are that if it was divinely revealed, Luke would have noted that as he does elsewhere. Hence, it was probably through someone having heard about it and then having passed it on. Regardless of this, Luke continues by saying, “And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.”

This would explain the plot having been discovered by Paul. He had been there three years and walked about in freedom. Eventually, the Jews decided to do away with him, he heard about it, they realized he had heard, and so they began watching the gates in case he attempted to escape.

In 2 Corinthians 11:32, Paul provides more information about this event, saying, “In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me.”

It is unknown what the connection between the Jews and the governor was, but he was either a Jew or he was sympathetic to the words of the Jews, and so he ensured guards were posted in order to apprehend Saul on their behalf.

Life application: Paul faced difficulties, but the Lord brought him through them in order to ensure His message got out as it should. When Paul’s ministry was complete and he had served his time, his life ended, and others continued carrying on the message. This will continue until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in according to God’s plan. When that occurs, the Lord will call His church home.

We can expectantly await that day without getting anxious and without trying to predict when it will be. The Lord is simply not going to tell us when the rapture will occur. The best thing to do concerning rapture date setters is to ignore them.

There is work to be done, learning should go on, and the days will continue to pass as they always have until then. So why fritter away your time with idle speculation? Live your life in hopeful anticipation, but with the notion that just as today might be the day, today might also not be the day. Live your life with both in mind.

Lord God, the working out of Your plan for the church has been in progress for thousands of years. It may come to its completion today, or it may go on for quite some time. We will hope for the former but prepare for the latter. Help us to be responsible with our time as we wait upon the Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 9:23

Mountains of Utah.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. Acts 9:23

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse indicated that Saul (Paul) was able to prove to the Jews in Damascus that Jesus is the Christ, confounding them. With that, Luke presents their reaction, beginning with, “Now after many days were past.”

Without knowing a complete chronology of what Saul did and where he traveled, it is impossible to know for certain what “many days” means, but Saul may indicate what it means in his words of Galatians 1 –

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.” Galatians 1:15-18

Saul leaves out details that will next be seen in Acts, but Acts provides details that Saul does not refer to in his letter to the Galatians, though he does refer to them elsewhere. In verse 9:26, it does say that he will go to Jerusalem, and so the two appear to match. Thus, the “many days” appears to be a period of about three years. It is after this lengthy period of confounding the Jews that “the Jews plotted to kill him.”

Notice the parallel here to that of Stephen in Acts 6 –

“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.’” Acts 6:8-14

Saul, like Stephen before him, confounded the Jews with his wisdom, and the Jews plotted to kill him just as they plotted to kill Stephen. The difference is that Saul is now on the receiving end of what he once participated in.

Life application: Paul’s letters repeatedly speak of suffering by those who are in Christ. In 2 Timothy 3:12, he states this explicitly, giving the reason for it, saying, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

This is not the kind of thing that you will normally hear during a Sunday sermon. There are preachers that convey this message, but for the most part other things – happier things – are often focused on. That is too bad because Paul’s words are given to prepare faithful followers of the Lord for such events. Without hearing them analyzed, those in the church who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be unprepared for it and may wonder why something so strange would happen to them.

Life in Christ is one of hope. It is one of faith in what lies ahead. This life may or may not be filled with blessing, and it is one – if lived faithfully – is sure to see suffering. The devil wants nothing more than to rob the joy and the testimony of Christians away from them. Or he will misdirect them through false teachings of prosperity and wealth so that they will be ineffective in a godly, faithful walk.

Be content with what you have, be encouraged in the Lord, and be steadfast with your eyes firmly fixed on Him. Put on the whole armor of God and be prepared for your day, each day, by carrying with you the thought that what Christ promises for the next life will be worth whatever you face in this one.

Heavenly Father, help us to walk contentedly before You all our days. Whether we see blessing and abundance or suffering and loss, may we keep our eyes on Jesus and our hearts and affections directed to You through Him. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 9:22

For sure, there was a big, big flood here once upon a time.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. Acts 9:22

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verses indicated that Saul (Paul) preached Christ in the synagogues and those who heard were amazed because they knew of his previous life. With that context, it now says, “But Saul increased all the more in strength.”

The word translated as “strength” is an imperfect verb, saying something like, “But Saul was strengthened all the more.” The idea here is that as he preached, the effects of what he said became more and more evident and his case was meticulously built up. It may also include the thought of his own moral character increasing with each presentation of the gospel and proper doctrine. But it appears this is most expressly referring to his argument from Scripture. This thought is bolstered by the next words, saying, “and confounded the Jews.”

Again, the verb is imperfect, showing that it was an ongoing process. He “was confounding the Jews.” He didn’t just come up with an argument about his doctrine that was pulled completely out of context and say, “See this shows that what I am saying is true.” Such a presentation would be easily revealed as false. On the contrary, he was clearly taking things in context, he was being strengthened in his presentation by doing so, and he was confounding those who could not refute what he was saying.

Because Saul was a Pharisee, he was fully versed in the content of Scripture. He had just been looking at it through the wrong lens until his eyes were opened. Once he realized that it truly is all about Jesus, the ancient passages opened up in a new and irrefutable way. This is the idea of what is being said while debating the Jews “who dwelt in Damascus.”

Saul was willing to spend the time needed while using his newly acquired spiritual implements of warfare against those he was once allied with. This, instead of physical arms and implements that he once used against his now fellow believers. The irony is palpable. And these spiritual implements were fully capable of “proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”

This (proving) is a new word in Scripture, sumbibazó. It is formed from the words sun (together with) and basis (a step and thus a foot). As such, it gives the sense of walking in accord. Saul is taking Scripture and identifying it with Jesus and there is found to be a complement (a walking together) between the two. Vincent’s Word Studies explains this work more fully –

“The verb means to bring or put together: hence to compare and examine, as evidence, and so to prove. Used in the literal and physical sense in Ephesians 4:16. In Colossians 2:2, of being knit together in love. In 1 Corinthians 2:16, of instructing, building up, by putting together.”

As for the words, “the Christ,” they are used as an appellative. Too often people assume Jesus Christ is a name, but it is a title. Jesus is the Christ, meaning the Messiah, or – more precisely – He is “the Anointed One.” Saul’s handling of Scripture clearly and poignantly demonstrated that this is the case. Jesus is the fulfillment of all that Scripture is pointing to.

Life application: When evangelizing certain people groups, especially Jews, you must use a common reference in order to establish a baseline for what you are presenting. Jews, as a people, have already rejected the New Testament. Very few will say, “Let me see what the New Testament says,” and then readily accept it, although it has been known to happen.

Rather, if you are going to convince a Jew that Jesus is the Christ, you will need to be well versed enough in the Old Testament to show them directly from their own Scriptures that He is the fulfillment of what is presented there. And this may be true with Muslims and others as well. Though many Muslims believe that both testaments of Scripture are corrupted, many do accept (or are simply unsure) that the Old Testament is valid. By taking time to show them what the Old Testament says about the coming Christ, you can then use the New to show them that He fulfills what was prophesied.

For others, it is possible to take the Jews’ rejection of Jesus and use that as a basis for the fact that Jesus really is what Scripture proclaims. By showing that the Jews’ failure to see what is perfectly evident right in their own Scriptures was prophesied in advance (and explained in the New Testament), one can clearly demonstrate that Scripture is self-validating. In other words, even the Jews’ national rejection of Jesus confirms the truth of Scripture. From there, showing that Jesus is the reason they were exiled and punished gives the basis for believing that He truly is the Messiah of Israel.

Don’t give up if someone initially rejects your gospel presentation. If he is willing to continue listening, try another avenue and press on. The main thing to remember is that all of Scripture points to Jesus. As long as you are proclaiming Jesus, you are speaking of what the Bible is pointing to. Keep on telling about Jesus!

Lord God, what a wonderful treasure of love and delight is found in Your word. You are conveying to us the words of life and restoration, and it is all based upon what You have done through the giving of Your Son. Thank You for Jesus who truly is making all things new! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 9:21

Lines of sediment from Noah’s Flood clearly evident in the Utah hills.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” Acts 9:21

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Following the translation of the KJV, the tense of the verbs in the NKJV doesn’t give the sense of the Greek at all. A better translation that more closely follows the original will be used –

“And all those hearing were amazed and were saying, ‘Is this not the one having ravaged those in Jerusalem calling on this name? And he had come here for this, that he might bring them, having been bound, to the chief priests.’” (Berean Literal Bible)

The last verse noted Saul immediately preaching the Christ in the synagogues, noting that He is the Son of God. With that, the narrative continues with, “And all those hearing were amazed.”

Who “all those” are is not stated. It is certain from the words that the preponderance of them are nonbelieving Jews. However, it also seems to appear from the words of this verse that those nonbelievers didn’t have any real animosity with those who professed Christ. They may have even continued on harmoniously together while simply disagreeing on the part about Jesus.

As for Saul, his conversion had taken place. From there, it is speculated (see commentary on the previous two verses) that he went to Arabia, received his revelation from the Lord, and returned to Damascus where he then immediately began his preaching. It can be certain, based on his time as a Pharisee, that his knowledge while preaching was precise and irrefutable.

His words would leave no doubt as to the message he was conveying. Not only did he preach that the Christ (Jesus) is the Son of God, but he would be able to fully support his words with Scripture. Because of this, those who were hearing him “were saying, ‘Is this not the one having ravaged those in Jerusalem calling on this name?’”

The knowledge of Saul’s past actions had become well known among the Jews of Damascus. He was intolerant of those who professed faith in Christ, and he treated them violently. The Greek word, portheó, translated as “having ravaged,” is found only here and then twice in Galatians 1. It is a word indicating to destroy, lay waste, or make havoc of. Saul (Paul) will later use this same word to describe his own actions –

“For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” Galatians 1:13 (see also Galatians 1:23)

The very name (Jesus, the Christ) that they had proclaimed, and which Saul desired to lay waste, is the same name that he now openly proclaimed. It was beyond their comprehension that this was occurring. And not only had he tried to eliminate this name in Jerusalem, but they continued, saying, “And he had come here for this.”

Saul was willing to travel beyond the borders of Israel to destroy any and all who avowed the name of Jesus. And he had come to Damascus for this very purpose. And now, here he is in Damascus proclaiming the very name that he had worked to destroy. And this wasn’t just a personal rage against Christ. It had the approval of the leadership, and he was a Pharisee. Hence, he had come under authority “that he might bring them, having been bound, to the chief priests.”

With the full weight and authority of the priesthood (it is plural to most likely indicate those who served as high priest in the past and who still wielded authority as well as the current high priest) Paul was commissioned to bring an end to the faith. The incredible nature of his open profession of this name now mystified any and all who heard. There may even have been a degree of skepticism in their minds as to whether this was a ploy to flush out those who believed.

Life application: One of the unique things about the truly converted in Christ is that there is often a sudden and dramatic break from their ways of the past. For nonbelievers who see this change, there may be the idea that their friend has gone bonkers (which is actually not untrue, because the new believer has gone bonkers for Christ – see 2 Corinthians 5:13).

As for other believers, when they come to Christ, there may be joy, skepticism, wariness, and so on from non-believing friends or family. It all depends on who the person was. For example, if he was a scam artist, it could be skepticism that he is using his “newfound faith” as a means of enriching himself. However, after a while, the true fruit of his conversion will be seen for what it is.

There is such an amazing degree of freedom in Christ that it is often inexpressible. To know that the weight of the debt of one’s sin is erased can be beyond words. And so, actions step in and fill the void. This is a marvelous period in the new believer’s life, but it must also be tempered with the understanding that sound theology and right doctrine does not come through a sudden conversion. Instead, it must be developed over time.

And so, it is both important to not quench this new and excited faith, but it is also important to not let this young believer start spouting off doctrine that is unsound. It is also why Paul instructs us concerning those who are young in the faith, saying that an overseer should not be a “novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6, 7).

When you see a new believer who has gone bonkers for Christ, rejoice in his conversion and yet be willing to temper his new faith with the understanding that there is a lot to be learned in order to be an effective communicator of proper doctrine. In other words, fan the fire while also not adding too much fuel to it at one time.

Lord God, help us to be sound mentors of those who come into the faith so that they are properly discipled in order to effectively communicate their newfound faith to others. May we not quench their zeal, while at the same time, may we help them to keep from running ahead and falling into ruin. Yes, help us in this, O Lord. Amen.