Acts 25:3

Buttery, West Virginia, 2010. Probably dead by now.

Wednesday, 21 February 2024

asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. Acts 25:3

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, scrolling with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The Greek more rightly reads, “Asking a favor against him, that he might summon him to Jerusalem, making an ambush to kill him along the way” (CG).

The previous verse told of the charges the chief priest and leaders made against Paul. Based on those, it now says, “Asking a favor against him.”

When Felix was noted as being replaced, the narrative said he left Paul in prison as a favor to the Jews. Now, with a new governor to replace Felix, they are asking for advanced favor from the inexperienced Festus against Paul as well. The fact that they had previously planned to kill him was certainly erased from the memory of those serving under Felix after two years. And so, a plan is now made by the Jews under the government of Festus. It was so “that he might summon him to Jerusalem.”

Paul was incarcerated in Caesarea. How inconvenient it would be for all of the leadership to be gathered in Caesarea when just one man could be brought to Jerusalem! It made all the sense in the world to not inconvenience Festus with such a trivial matter there in Caesarea. One can almost hear their cunning words. But all the while, they were planning on “making an ambush to kill him along the way.”

Instead of a giant contingent of soldiers, spearmen, and cavalry, Paul would probably be conducted by a few soldiers. The contingent would be easy prey. In no time, the Jews could be done with Paul once and for good!

Everything about the account shows that the memory of Paul was as fresh as it could be on the minds of the Jews. The failure of the past was to them a stinging rebuke concerning their supposed duties to God.

Until they made things right, they would feel they remained out of His favor over the matter. It is ironic that the opposite is true. They had left the favor of the Lord when they rejected Christ. It was Paul who could lead them back to the truth of their actions and into a right relationship with Him once again. But they were blinded to this truth and were, once again, plotting to do away with their loathed foe.

Life application: There are times that we become so passionate about a matter that it will blind us to any possibility of seeing other possible options concerning what we perceive as the truth. This is how Paul was before the Lord personally called him as an apostle.

Now, the people he was once aligned with had become his sworn enemies. People who are trained, for example, in the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that they possess the truth and everyone else is a heretic. They cannot see beyond their own state, and they are normally completely unwilling to hear any other option.

This is true with most of us in one way or another. It is a state known as cognitive dissonance. We shut out anything that interferes with our presuppositions, and we then refuse to believe things that may be evident on the surface.

We should be willing to test and verify everything, even if it goes against our presuppositions. The Jews who wanted Paul dead presupposed that Jesus was a heretic, and they were unwilling to even entertain the thought that Paul could be right about Him. What is it that we think we are so sure about that we are unwilling to see other options?

Let us honestly evaluate what we believe and let us be willing to check and verify it by setting aside any false presuppositions. It is a healthy way to approach all matters because we may be completely blinded to a matter that we are promoting without the right knowledge to even speak on it, much less claim that it is the absolute truth.

Lord God, may we be willing to challenge everything we believe and teach to others, honestly opening our eyes and checking if we could be wrong. If we are, and if we don’t do this, we will be instructing others in that which is false. May we not be such people. Instead, help us to think clearly and rightly about all things that we in turn teach. Amen.










Acts 15:16

Artwork by Doug Kallerson.

Friday, 17 March 2023

‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
Acts 15:16

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).

James just noted that the words of the prophets agree with the idea that God first visited to take out of nations a people for His name. With that, he now cites Amos 9:11 & 12 to confirm this. As is often the case in the New Testament, the quote is from the Greek translation, not the Hebrew. Further, there is even a bit of deviation from the Greek in verse 15:16.

That verse begins with, “After this I will return.” Rather, the word translated as “this” is a plural demonstrative pronoun. It reads, “After these things I will return.” The reference is to what is said in the earlier verses of Amos 9. They speak of Israel’s destruction and exile. In those verses, the Lord says –

“‘Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me,
O children of Israel?’ says the Lord.
‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
The Philistines from Caphtor,
And the Syrians from Kir?’” Amos 9:7

In essence, the Lord is saying to Israel, “You are just like any other people. Other than your relationship with Me, you are just people.” To show them this, He was going to take a different direction, working among the Gentiles of whom they thought they were better. Because of their sinful state, rejecting the Lord, they would enter a time of punishment, being scattered among the nations. It is “After these things” that the Lord will return.

The meaning of that is that He will revisit Israel. It is as if he had departed from them and was now returned to them. His attention was on their destruction, but it would be changed to their re-establishment and prosperity. It is at this prophesied time that it next says, “And will rebuild the tabernacle of David.”

The tabernacle is a booth or temporary shelter used during the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a feast where the people gathered in Jerusalem, meeting to acknowledge that the Lord was Israel’s protector. They had been brought out of Egypt, having been rescued from their bondage. They were wholly dependent on the Lord and were living in close and intimate contact with Him.

The “tabernacle of David” is specifically speaking of the royal house of David. Despite being the king, he too would have participated in the annual festival, dwelling in a tabernacle in this intimate fellowship with the Lord. What is being conveyed is that the rule and authority of Israel under the House of David would be restored to Israel, but it would be in a way that resembled the tabernacle, or booth.

Thus, it refers to the Person of Jesus, the Messiah who is the Greater David. For example, the verb form of the word is used when speaking of Christ in John 1 –

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

The noun form is used when referring to the intimate dwelling together of God and man in Revelation 21 –

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’” Revelation 21:3

It is the intimate fellowship between the House of David and the Lord that would be rebuilt. Understanding this, the next words read, “which has fallen down.”

The Davidic line of kings ceased at the time of the Babylonian exile. From that time on there was no Israelite king of the line of David, in the sense of leading the nation. The line of kingship in the house of David was prophesied to end by Jeremiah –

 “‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; 25 and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans.’” Jeremiah 22:24, 25

However, the line of David itself was not cut off. After the exile, it continued on as is testified to in Haggai –

And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:
‘I will shake heaven and earth.
22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms;
I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.
I will overthrow the chariots
And those who ride in them;
The horses and their riders shall come down,
Every one by the sword of his brother.
23 ‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:20-23

The royal line was cut off in Coniah, but it was re-established after the exile to Babylon in Zerubbabel. It is Zerubbabel who is listed in Jesus’ genealogy in Luke 3:27, continuing this royal line leading to Israel’s Messiah.

This does not mean, however, that Zerubbabel was the rebuilt tabernacle signifying the rule of the House of David. Israel had no Davidic king again. Rather, they were ruled by other nations. Even when Herod ruled over Israel this is true. He was neither of the line of David nor was he the final authority over Israel. His rule fell under the jurisdiction of Rome.

With this understood, the words of the prophet being cited by James continue with, “I will rebuild its ruins.” Again, it is referring to the tabernacle of David, meaning the intimate fellowship with the Lord of the kingship of Israel over the people. The wording is speaking of a time when Davidic rule would again be realized in the land. This has never occurred since the time of Coniah whom Jeremiah referred to.

Of these words, Albert Barnes rightly states, “The ruins thereof – Heb. ‘close up the breaches thereof.’ That is, it would be restored to its former prosperity and magnificence; an emblem of the favor of God, and of the spiritual blessings that would in future times descend on the Jewish people.” This is what James is saying would occur. With that, the words of this verse end with, “And I will set it up.”

As with the previous clause, it is still referring to the tabernacle of David. There is a time prophesied that will come when the Davidic rule will again be established over Israel. It must be remembered that the words “After these things” set the tone for what is being debated in the council. It is based on these words of the prophet now being cited by James. That is based on the words of verse 15:14 that God first visited to take out of nations a people for His name.

In other words, the things being cited from Amos are not referring to the time leading up to the coming of Jesus and His spiritual rule over the church at this time, but to the second coming of Jesus and a literal rule over Israel. This is important to understand. Equating these words with the church is a completely false notion that is not supported by the words of Amos nor by the rest of Scripture. This will be seen more clearly with the evaluation of the next verse.

Life application: It is true that much of the church rejects a literal re-establishment of Israel and a millennial reign of Christ. These things are spiritualized forming the doctrine of replacement theology which says the church has replaced Israel and that everything spoken of in the past was referring not to Israel’s future, but to the current state of the world where Christ rules the church.

This cannot be. The surrounding words of Amos do not support this, nor do the rest of the words of Moses and the prophets. Even the New Testament cannot be seen to agree with this. If God has rejected Israel as a nation, it means the words of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel cannot be trusted. If that is true, then the words of the New Covenant cannot be trusted either. The same Lord who established the Mosaic Covenant is the Lord who has established the New Covenant.

Have faith that despite Israel’s failings, the Lord will never reject them as His people. Likewise, despite your failings, the Lord will never reject you because of what He has done through Christ Jesus. When the terms of the covenant are met, the deal is done. If you have believed the gospel, you have been saved, once and for all time.

Lord God, thank You for the lesson of Israel. Despite their continued unfaithfulness, You have remained faithful to them. We can learn from this that despite our unfaithfulness, You will always remain faithful to us. Thank You for this assurance in our hope of eternal life. Thank You! Amen.





Acts 10:27

Nifty ceiling lamp. Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Friday, 23 September 2022

And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Acts 10:27

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).

Cornelius had just fallen before Peter. That was followed by Peter correcting him for doing that. From there, it now says, “And as he talked with him.”

The contents are left unstated, but it was probably a general greeting accompanied by the normal personal things people say when they first meet. Being a present participle (literally: And talking with him), they engaged in conversation as they proceeded, such as, “We had a really nice trip. On the way, we stopped for the best falafel I’ve ever had. And now we are here to discover what the Lord intends for us to know.” Whatever was said, it continued as “he went in.”

This shows that Cornelius first met Peter outside of the house. Once Peter had raised him up, the conversation began, and they continued to talk even as they were entering. As they did, it notes that Peter “found many who had come together.”

One can think of the verse that says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Cornelius diligently sought after God (contrary to the Calvinistic idea about man being unable to seek after Him). When he received his vision, he then wanted to share it with as many of his family and friends as he could. In other words, one can imagine his words to them, “I have told you for years about our need to consider God in all our ways. Now, I have been told that He has a message to share with me from a man in Joppa. That man will arrive today, and I want you to be there to hear his message as well. Please, please come and hear what he has to say!”

This is the situation that now exists as Peter and Cornelius enter the house. Remembering that Peter is a Jew and that this would otherwise be considered culturally inappropriate, he will next inform this gathered audience of the reason he has nevertheless entered.

Life application: Peter has walked into the house of supposedly “unclean” Gentiles. A doctor will enter a room with sick people that others would not dare to enter. A fellow soldier will throw himself on top of a grenade that will surely kill him in order to save his brothers in arms. What exceptional thing are you willing to do to bring life to others? The examples of the doctor and the soldier may involve actions by those who are unbelievers, and yet they will risk their lives for others. This is their calling, and it is their honor to act.

We have a calling placed upon us that is intended to save, but it is not physical life we are considering. Rather, the message we possess – meaning that of the gospel – is the only message that can bring a person who stands already condemned before God (see John 3:18) to one who stands approved before God. And yet, are we too shy to share it? Are we embarrassed to share it? Are we too busy to share it?

What excuses do we need to drop in order to be obedient to the call that we have been given? Let us consider them, let us refine our thoughts, and then let us act by spreading this wonderful message. Cornelius called “many” to hear the message. Peter was willing to go into “many” despite the cultural barrier that would have otherwise prevented him from doing so. Consider this and redirect! Speak out the word of salvation!

Lord God, thank You for those who have been willing to accept danger in order to help save those who needed them in their time of distress. May they be a reminder to us that we can also help by bringing the saving message of Jesus to those who live out their lives in a permanent state of distress. We are all one heartbeat away from where eternity will place us. May we be willing to make a difference in where that eternity will be spent by them. Amen.












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 7:5

Texas cotton, up close and personal.

Monday, 11 April 2022

And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. Acts 7:5

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 referred to the coming of Abraham from Haran to Canaan after the death of his father. Despite being called to Canaan, Stephen’s words continue by saying, “And God gave him no inheritance in it.”

The statement is given to show that Abraham, despite being promised the inheritance, would only receive it through his offspring. As such it is an inheritance based on faith. This is clearly attested to in Hebrews –

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10

Abraham heard the word, accepted it, and lived by it in faith. He was obedient to God, anticipating the promise while living as a sojourner. Understanding this, Stephen continues, saying, “not even enough to set his foot on.”

The Greek more literally reads, “not even the step of a foot.” The word “step” is the noun béma. It signifies a step, a raised place, or a platform that is walked up to in order to receive judgment. The idea is that one spot where the step of a foot is made was more than Abraham actually received as an inheritance in his life. This same idea was expressed in Deuteronomy concerning the land of Edom as Israel passed through it –

“And command the people, saying, ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.’” Deuteronomy 2:4, 5

It is an expression then that signifies a total exclusion of any possession at all. Despite this, Abraham did make a purchase of land while dwelling in Canaan. That is recorded in Genesis 23 when he bought a field and cave for the burial of Sarah (and later for himself and other family members). In this, there is nothing contradictory to what is said by Stephen. This was not an inheritance, but a purchase. Further, it was not for the living, but for the dead. It was an act of faith in hope of the resurrection and the true land of promise that Canaan only typified.

Continuing on, Stephen next says, “But even when Abraham had no child.” This refers to the state of Sarah’s barren womb, even at an advanced age. Abraham remained childless, but God had promised that he would possess the land through his own child, as Stephen notes, “He promised to give it to him for a possession.”

This would be considered problematic. Abraham has been given a promise, he has not personally been allowed any of what the promise signifies, and so the promise would have to be through a child, and yet he had no child. This conundrum is seen in the words of Genesis 15 –

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’
But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’” Genesis 15:1-3

With that understood, the Lord confirmed His promise to Abraham. Stephen notes this with the words, “and to his descendants after him.”

Despite being old and without an heir, the Lord spoke to Abraham that the promise stood and would come to pass –

“Andbehold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’
And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Then He said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.’” Genesis 15:4-7

Abraham, by faith, accepted the word of the Lord. He dwelt in tents, he remained confident that the Lord’s word was true, and he did not doubt or resist what was spoken to him. Stephen’s words about Abraham are making a point for the leaders of Israel to consider if they will simply pay heed.

Life application: Abraham heard the word of the Lord and accepted it by faith. When given a promise that seemed absolutely incredible, even impossible by any stretch of the imagination, he believed the Lord’s word.

In the Bible, there are claims made, and great and rich promises given to the people of God. Some of the things that are said are incredible. The Bible tells us that Jesus died for our sins, but that He was also raised again. Such a thing, meaning a man coming back to life after being crucified, would seem impossible by any stretch of the imagination, and yet God asks us to believe that it is true.

If one cannot believe that, then the other promises of God will never apply to him. What is presented is given for us to accept by faith. As faith is exclusive of works, then to work for what is promised is an offense to the One who promises.

Be steadfast in your faith that the word of God is true, that what it conveys will come to pass, and that your faith in what it says is all you need in order to appropriate what is promised. This is what will be pleasing to God, not your attempts to buy Him off through the observance of certain rites or rituals. God has done the work. Just believe! That is what He asks of you.

Heavenly Father, if we truly believe that You are God and that the Bible is Your word, then we should have no problem accepting that what it says is true. Help us in our lack of faith. Give us the ability to understand those things that are incredible and to accept them as they are written. May we faithfully trust in Your word as we await the fulfillment of the promises that You have spoken out. Amen.