Hidden in Plain Sight
Would you begin reading a book halfway though? If you did, would you know what was going on, who the good and bad guys were, what the situation was, and be able to understand what is going on? It’s doubtful. However, this is what we do with the Bible. We begin two-thirds of the way through at Matthew, and miss the plot and very important information including the definition of terms we will run into in the New Testament.
This article is to explore Scriptural references from Acts to show that Paul and the apostles were continuing in their former lifestyle and practices in compliance with the instructions of God in the Tanakh/Old Testament. Due to the Gentile lack of training in the foundations of the Bible, we miss things that would have been obvious to those of the first century who knew that type of lifestyle. To illustrate this, I’d like to give you something to consider.
In our culture, we understand the following phrases, but if a guest from another culture, totally different from our own heard them, would they know what was being said?
“I’ve got to get the check in the mail to Uncle Sam.”
“I’m going to have some green beer.
“What are you dressing up as?”
“I ate too much turkey and dressing.”
“Have you got your eggs colored yet?”
(I am not endorsing these practices, simply using them to make a point.)
This “code” is important to know in order to understand what is happening and what is being referred to as well as what time if year it marks. In Acts, we have references we don’t comprehend because we don’t know the “code.” The purpose of this article is to unlock some of those references for you.
The Word tells us that God has one seed, one faith, one people, and one family. We’re also told that the New Testament was to be checked against the Old Testament, as Paul commended the Bereans for doing. The “new” had to be measured by the Old; if done the other way around, we get a backwards message.
Is there any information to support this statement in the Scriptures the New Testament believers would have checked? Yes, there is:
Isaiah 8:20: if someone speaks not according to the torah and the testimony, there is no light in them.
This told the people of Messiah's day that if someone came along proclaiming he was messiah, but did not speak according to the torah and the testimony, then he was not who he claimed. It, along with the rest of the Old Testament, was the measuring stick for the New Testament believers to measure what anyone said to them. Therefore, if the apostles or our Messiah approved believers not following the commandments, then according to the Old Testament prophesies, that person is not speaking for the God of the Bible! The disciples, who were trained in torah as all Jewish men were, would not have listened to such a person, nor would they have followed him or believed him to be the messiah. Their strict training in the torah would make such a thing impossible.
Indeed, with this premise plainly in place in the New Testament (Paul’s commendation of the Bereans for going to the Old Testament to check whether or not what he said was accurate), then we could really end this article here. With this premise, there’s no way the church’s teaching that “we’re no longer under the law” can possibly be true. However, to support and ultimately prove this premise, we’ll go on.
Ezekiel 36:26-27: "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
This tells us that the reason we are given a new heart was to be able to walk in His commandments and statutes. This is said to the house of Israel. Since this information is reiterated in the New Testament in Hebrews 8:8-12, if you are a New Testament believer and say you are a Christian but not part of Israel, then being given a new heart does not apply to you because if He's talking to Israel and you aren't Israel, then He’s not talking to you!
We are constantly bombarded with the following type of statements from Christians, “Jesus freed us from the law,” “The disciples didn’t follow the law,” “Paul clearly wrote that we are no longer under the law.” Since Christianity (rightly) believes that the Word of God is inerrant and does not contradict itself, if these statements are accurate, then the book of Acts should show us the transition away from following the commandments of the torah to living Christianity like today’s churches. The practices of those churches should reflect the lifestyle of the disciples/apostles who moved away from the law.
The following are Scriptures in the book of Acts highlighting the practices of the disciples/apostles and those of Paul. We will see if the disciple’s practices reflect the statements listed above, or not. Some of the more difficult things to understand for those untrained in the Old Testament (the background for the disciples heritage) are explained, some are just referenced for those untrained in OT to understand significant OT phrases. Remember, we are examining the disciple’s practices for many years after Messiah’s ascension. If they changed their lifestyle, then it should be reflected here in the detailed history of Dr. Luke. The question the reader needs to ask as they read is this: are the above statements verified by the following accounts?
Acts 1:1: The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach
The Old Testament described all Messiah would be and would not be. It also described His actions – what He did and taught: He kept the feasts, Sabbath, dietary laws, wore tzitzit, kept the commandments and walked according to His fathers. He’d fully live and obey the torah, following Yahweh.
Acts 1:12: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.
“a Sabbath day’s journey” Here we can see, and we will continue to see, that Feasts & Sabbaths are still the way of measuring time in the New Testament. It continued as He had established it in the beginning. Genesis 1:14 tells us that He established them “for signs, seasons, days and years” which were determined by the new moons. It is the anti-messiah who desires to change these. (Daniel 7:25)
Acts 1:15: And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said,
“in those days” refers to the feast season of Passover and the 50 days from Passover to Shavuot (Pentecost) where the “counting of the omer” takes place so that they know what day Shavuot falls on. This is still practiced today.
Acts 1:20: "For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no man dwell in it'; and, 'His office let another man take.'”
In this verse Peter, a Jew trained in Scripture, takes two parts of the Old Testament and makes a teaching out if it, here using Psalm 69:25 & 109:8. This was a common Hebraic practice known as gezera shava.
Acts 2:1-4: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
“fully come” is the same word used in Matthew 5:17, meaning to fulfill, to establish, to fill up to the fullest. This is the same term that was used for gathering the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai for the first Shavuot (Pentecost). This group consisted of a mixed multitude, not just Abraham’s seed, but Egyptians and others, too. The torah command is to gather at the temple for this feast. It is one of the three times per year that every Hebrew male was to come to the temple in Jerusalem. The apostles were keeping this torah command and it was from this event that again, a mixed multitude would become the people of God.
At the first Shavuot/Pentecost on Mt. Sinai, all heard Yahweh speak; in Acts 2, all heard Him speak through the disciples in their own languages. Again, a mixed multitude was out there, yet all heard Him speak in their own language. A babbling tongue was not unusual to Hebrew people. The “nigun” (nig-goon׳) was sung, wordlessly. Best example you can easily find would be from Fiddler on the Roof when Tevya sings in “If I Were a Rich Man” “yiva diva didle, deedle didval deedal dival dum.” There’s even a place in the Old Testament where Moses apparently goes into something similar as there are no words given, just a dash to mark that he spoke but the words are unrecorded.
Acts 2:5: Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
“devout men,” Devout in this Hebraic culture means dedicated to torah.
Acts 2:6: And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.
Here, “multitude,” (as above) shows they were not just Jews! In Hebrew multitude is: melo ha goyim, the term used in Genesis 48:19:
And he would not, but said, I know it, son, I know it; he also shall be a people, and he shall be exalted, but his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
This reference is to the major blessing going to Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph. Ephraim was half Abraham’s seed and half Gentile. This is a very significant passage, but too lengthy to explore in this article.
Acts 2:14-47 (please read)
Peter preaches an OLD Testament sermon which brings people to belief in Messiah.
Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance is an Old Testament concept, as is baptism (Hebrew – mikvah; 2 Kings 5:10).
Acts 2:39: "For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself."
“all who are afar off” This is a Hebrew reference to the second son, the scattered house of Israel, the ones for whom Y’shua/Jesus said He came (Matthew 10:6, 15:24). This is also illustrated in the prodigal son story.
Acts 2:47: praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 3:8: And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
Praising God started in the Old Testament
Acts 3:1: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.
The disciples are still keeping appointed times of prayer after Messiah’s ascension. They are believers but are still doing the same thing all the “Jews” are doing by going to the temple at appointed times for prayer.
Acts 3:12-26 (please read)
Acts 3:13: "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.”
God is still being called “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers” the same term as in the Old Testament. This is “post” law & prophets, yet the apostles are still calling on the God of the Hebrews. NOTE: Nowhere in the New Testament is the term, “the God of the Christians” or “the Christian God” ever used.
Acts 3:17: And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams;
Peter, a very good Old Testament scholar, is quoting the prophet Joel. Prophecy, visions and dreams first took place in the Old Testament (Joseph and Daniel, for example). This is still happening.
Acts 3:18: "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
19 Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.
“…God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets…he has thus fulfilled.” To fulfill the prophets meant that Y'shua/Jesus had to come and die in order to blot out sin, not to blot out the torah/law. Peter uses the Old Testament to confirm Messiah’s identity and verify what he is saying to be true. He also gives a very Old Testament message, the same message that the Old Testament prophets gave to the Hebrew people over and over again: repent and return - repent for disobedience to Yahweh’s ways – His commandments, and return to Him by obeying them.
Paul tells us that the torah is not obsolete: it shows us our sins:
Romans 7:7: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet."
Messiah did not die to get rid of what shows us our sins. (Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 3:31; Romans 7:7, 12)
Acts 3:22-23: For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Peter reminds everyone who the Messiah is: the one foretold in the torah (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 12-14.) To check Peter out, anyone can go to this passage in Deuteronomy and they’ll see that if anyone teaches you to stray away from the one true God and His instructions, don’t listen to him. If you listen to something other than His instructions, you’re worshipping false gods. Even if that prophet prophesies correctly, don’t listen to or follow him. Deuteronomy 18:18-22 gives us the test to tell if one speaking from Yahweh. The Meshiah-tekat (anti-Messiah), the “lawless one” is the one who has no regard for the law of the fathers. If we reject the Tanach/Old Testament, which gives all the instructions/laws of the Messiah, then we reject the Scriptural foundation of who the Messiah was to be. This information isn’t found in the New Testament, but in the framework FOR it, the Old Testament. The New Testament was based upon the Old. (Deut. 10:12-17; Deut 11:1)
Acts 3:26: “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."
“turning every one of you”, not just Jews, away from wicked ways. What are wicked ways? Ways that are not God’s. He’s speaking of turning away from lawlessness.
Acts 4:8-12: (please read)
Peter continues his Old Testament sermon.
Acts 4:15-18, 21: But when they had ordered them to go aside out of the Council, they began to confer with one another,
16 saying, "What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
17 "But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name."
18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
21 And when they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which they might punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened;
The religious leaders refuse to accept what God is doing, in spite of the proof of the truth. Is it possible that there is a similarity between then and what God is doing today and how the church is receiving this?
Acts 4:37-5:2: Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession
Tithes and offerings continued from Old Testament. There’s no commandment to tithe in the New Testament, therefore, this is another continuation of an Old Testament commandment.
Acts 5:17 But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy
The religious leaders were filled with jealousy because they felt what was happening (healing/miracles) belonged to them, yet was happening though the disciples.
Acts 5:29: “But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men.”
The disciples said they must obey God; how do they know how to do so? From the Old Testament, which was all they had at that time.
Acts 5:30: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.”
“God of our fathers” The New Testament God is identified as the same God the Jews claim: the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob.
Acts 5:31: "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
“repentance to ISRAEL” All who come to the God of Israel ARE Israel, (there is no longer Jew or Gentile…ALL are Israel. (Galatians 3:7-9; Romans 11:11-24; Ephesians 2:11-12) This is the same message as that of the Old Testament. The difference is that it no longer takes the blood of bulls and goats for forgiveness of sin; Messiah paid the price once, for all. However, the requirement of a blood sacrifice for sin has not changed. This is for repentance to Israel. If you are not a part of Israel, then how does this apply to you? Answer: you are a part of Israel. You were made part when you were grafted into God’s family (called Israel) upon belief in Messiah. (See Romans 11:11-24 for explanation)
Acts 6:1: Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
This passage shows traditional Hebrews vs. Hellenists (Jews by birth who followed Greek traditions and culture instead of obeying the Word of God. This goes back to the time of Hanukkah. Due to persecution by the Greeks, the Hellenistic Jews gave up the Hebrew language, torah, their dress, and ways of living, believing life would be better if they gave up torah/law because “when we hold to torah, life gets tougher.” So they gave it up and didn’t live according to the Word of God; they joined the Greek culture and were called Grecians/Hellenists.) In this passage we see that some of them were coming to belief in Messiah, but problems arose with them because they didn’t know torah/law.
Acts 6:6: And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
The apostles laid hands on them, just as the Old Testament anointing for service to God (Numbers 27:23; Genesis 48:14-20).
Acts 6:8- chapter 7: (please read)
Stephen is falsely accused of changing the customs, which Moses handed down to the Hebrews as well as falsely accused of speaking against the holy place or torah. Stephen did not do this, and he defends himself against these false accusations.
Acts 7:1: And the high priest said, "Are these things so?"
“Is this so?” Stephen gives a speech teaching from the Tanakh/Old Testament. Contrary to popular Christian teaching, nowhere in Scripture does a believer ever say we are to change the laws and customs – only the false witnesses did this to both Stephen and Paul. If this teaching does exist in Scripture, then it contradicts the many passages we are examining in this article. Were this true, it would present quite a problem with Scriptural inerrancy.
Here’s a simple, logical question: if you are following a religion that teaches you that Messiah came and changed the customs and the law then whose testimony will you believe? The false witnesses set up to testify against Stephen and Paul, or will you believe God – what the apostles/disciples did teach?
Acts 7: (see above) - Stephen gives a Bible lesson saying that any time the prophets came and told the truth throughout history, they were killed. Stephen refutes all the false charges, including that he changed the customs and laws of Moses.
Acts 7:46-51: And David found favor in God's sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. "But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. "However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 'Heaven is My throne, And earth is the footstool of My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?' says the Lord; 'Or what place is there for My repose? 'Was it not My hand which made all these things?' "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.
Stephen uses midrash, a torah study/discussion methodology, here using 2 Chronicles 2:6 and teaching that Solomon, as a prophet of Yahweh knew God did not dwell in a temple made with hands, but in a temple made without hands, in the hearts of men. Stephen also shows that the ministry of the Holy Spirit did not change in the New Testament, either. His job was and is to woo. They, like their fathers, resisted His active working presence in their lives.
Acts 7:53: “…you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it."
Stephen points out that the religious leaders received the law/torah, but “yet did not keep it”. We’re taught in Christianity that the Pharisees kept the law; according to this, and to Messiah (Matthew 15:3) they did not.
Acts 7:55-56: But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
56 and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
Stephen saw a vision of heaven. Visions continue from Old Testament times to the New Testament.
Acts 8:2: And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.
“devout men” = those who kept (tried to) torah/law
Acts 8:6-7: And the multitudes with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.
7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.
God is proving His Word and verifying His representative as He did through the Old Testament prophets.
Acts 8:12-13: But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
13 And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.
Baptism continues from the Old Testament as well as signs and miracles taking place.
Acts 8:17: Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
Laying on of hands, an Old Testament practice, continues.
Acts 8:35-36: And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"
The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized after listening to an OLD Testament Bible study since the Old Testament were the only existing Scriptures at that time. Contrary to most Christian teaching of today, baptism is not a New Testament idea: the eunuch got it from Phillip’s teaching from the OLD Testament.
Acts 9:2: and [Sha’ul//Saul] asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Paul wanted to arrest any people of “the Way.” How could Paul be given authority to arrest them? Because those of “the Way” were considered a sect of Judaism. The religious leaders had no civil authority; they only had authority over their own. (Also called “the Way” in Acts 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22)
Acts 9:10-12: Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Behold, here am I, Lord."
11 And the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,
12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."
God is still speaking through visions to His people for His purposes. Ananias was obedient to God’s instruction.
Acts 9:20: And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Paul preaches about Messiah in the synagogues, yet Christianity teaches he was just the apostle to the Gentiles. This untrue; he also spoke to the Jews and was commissioned by God to speak to Gentiles, kings and the Jews (See Acts 9:15-16). How could the Jews know Y’shua/Jesus was Messiah? Because the Old Testament has all the information and the Old Testament was the only Scripture in existence at the time.
Acts 9:36-37: Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did. And it came about at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.
This is a typical “kosher” burial. This practice, from the Old Testament is still happening in the New; this is for Tabitha, a New Testament believer, “disciple”.
In Acts 10 (please read) we have the first dialogue with a Gentile given in the period after Messiah’s ascension.
v. 2: a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.
22 And they said, "Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you."
These are Hebrew idioms: “devout man” = one who keeps torah
“feared God” = one who sits at the gate, desiring to
follow the God of Israel.
v. 3: About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in to him, and said to him, "Cornelius!"
4 And fixing his gaze upon him and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
The “ninth hour” is a time of prayer set aside in Judaism. At this time of the day, part of the prayer goes like this:
“Ha Shem (the name = Yahweh) is close to all who call upon Him
To all who call upon His name
Sincerely, the will of those who fear Him, He will do
And their cry He will hear and He will save them.”
Cornelius is praying to the “Jewish” God at the particular time of day the Jews prayed. God gave him a vision, as happened in the Old Testament. He prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Old Testament God, yet is sent to get Peter who believes in Messiah. God has not changed (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). In response to this, Yahweh sends Peter to teach this Gentile who desires a relationship with the God of Israel. Somehow through time, God’s things have become “Jewish things.” In Scripture however, the feasts, Sabbaths, commandments are called God’s, not Jewish. This terminology is a phenomenon of our culture and created to distance us from God’s way of doing things (more on this later).
v. 9: And on the next day, as they were on their way, and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
The sixth hour/noon prayer time is also a set time of prayer for the Jews. Peter is still keeping this custom after Messiah came and supposedly “destroyed the law” according to current Christian teaching.
v. 10-17 (please read)
In verses 10-17, Peter also sees a vision from God while in a “trance.”
v. 14: But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy or unclean."
Acts 11:8: By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
Many years after Messiah’s ascension, Peter still hasn’t eaten anything unclean. Why not? Because Messiah didn’t eat anything unclean. Torah instructions are still in effect here and are being followed.
v. 17: Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate;
“Peter was greatly perplexed” He didn’t know what the vision meant. He did not take it literally to mean he could now eat unclean. He didn’t know what it meant. Somewhere between the vision and arriving at Cornelius’ household, Peter receives understanding of the vision and tells us what that is in v. 28:
And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.
This is about the Gentiles (“unclean”) and the Jews now being one in Messiah. This is about how he’s to treat Cornelius, which was differently than the Jews had previously viewed Gentiles. The sheet (Hebrew = talit) was designed for all those who are the people of God. Numbers 15:37-41 was given to remind Israel of the laws and commandments of God, of His holiness. This sheet in the vision gives the same picture as the “Great Commission”: bring those out of the nations as prophesied through “fishers of men”* to bring them into the nation of Israel, into the people of God (Romans 11:11-24). The talit shows a mixture out in the world, clean & unclean, are to be brought into the people of God though Messiah. This is also mentioned by Paul in that there is to no longer be a distinction between those who believe, whether Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:28). Now they are all to be “one new man.”
The church teaches that the law/commandments are not literal, but symbolic; it “spiritualizes” them. But no one received them in a trance or a vision in Scripture. God said something literal and the church spiritualizes it. Now God has given something symbolic, in a trance/vision, and the church makes it literal! They take the literal things and treat them like they’re dreams and they take the dreams and make them literal! What nonsense.
To be consistent with this methodology, then Pharaoh’s dream was about watching skinny cows so they wouldn’t eat the fat cows and watching the thin ears of corn so they wouldn’t eat the fat corn. No! The dream was about people and events, not cows and corn. Likewise, Peter’s vision was about people and events, not unclean now being considered food.
* “fishers of men”: This is about men going into the world (the sea in biblical language) and catching the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” to whom Messiah said He was sent, fulfilling prophecy (Jeremiah 16:14-16). In Genesis 48:3-19 we’re told that Joseph’s children were half Abraham’s seed, half Gentile. The message is that being Israel is a matter of choice. Genesis 48:19 says a “multitude of nations.” In Hebrew that is melo ha goyim, the same picture used in Romans 11:24: “the fullness of the Gentiles.” God’s still continuing with the same message He’s had from the beginning. One who leaves other ways to serve Him is a “Hebrew”: one who has crossed over. When we cross from the kingdom of darkness to light, we become a Hebrew; we join God’s family and take its name.
Acts 10:30: And Cornelius said, "Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments…
35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.”
Cornelius was praying during a time set for prayer for the people who belong to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “…and does what is right…” How do we know what is right? By the OLD Testament, the only written Scripture that was available at the time. This is a NEW Testament event.
v. 44-45: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.
Today, we get all excited about a Jew getting saved. But, at the beginning, it was the other way around.
Acts 10:47-48: Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"
48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.
The Old Testament practice of baptism is now offered to the Gentiles. Why? Because God had made sure Peter got the message: He had them baptized in the Holy Spirit “just was we did.”
Acts 11:1: Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
The apostles heard that the Gentiles had also received the Word of God. What is the “Word of God” at this time? The Tanakh/OT; it’s all that exists from God: His laws, commandments, statutes, and ordinances. “The Word of God” is repeated throughout the Tanach/Old Testament as being comprised of these things. The Gentiles had now received the same Word as the Y’hudim/Jews – so their behaviour should now be the same as their example.
2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him,
3 saying, "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them."
The apostles are still upholding “Jewish” tradition to not enter the home of or eat with a Gentile. Until Peter explains His actions were divinely instructed. (v.4-18)
Acts 11:4-18: But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze upon it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. "And I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Arise, Peter; kill and eat.' "But I said, 'By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' "But a voice from heaven answered a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' "And this happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. "And behold, at that moment three men appeared before the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. "And the Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. And these six brethren also went with me, and we entered the man's house. "And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, 'Send to Joppa, and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.' "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning. "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' "If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."
Peter again tells the point of the vision, this time to the other apostles in Jerusalem - God is including the Gentiles with us to be one body. They had the same experience that we did.
Acts 11:20-21: But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.
The Gentiles “turned to the Lord.” How do we know that? Their actions told everyone. Their actions, in accordance with the only written Scriptures in existence at the time: the OLD Testament.
Acts 11:27-28: Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.
Prophets are still working in the New Testament among believers.
Acts 12:1-4: Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them.
2 And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.
3 And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people.
v. 3: these are unbelieving Jews –
Note during the days of Unleavened Bread, which is the Passover season, are still being observed by the apostles
v. 4: the King James Version (KJV) translates this as Easter.* This NOT in the Greek! The Greek word is pesach, which is the Passover. Easter and Passover have nothing to do with each other. One is the celebration of a Babylonian fertility goddess; the other has to do with the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. They are two different times of the year, they are not at the same time; just check your calendar today to confirm this. It is rare that they ever fall on the same day. (Passover can be any day of the week; Easter can only be on a Sunday.) The disciples still haven’t ended keeping the feasts of Yahweh after Messiah’s resurrection; they are going on as before.
Indeed, by applying the tradition of men over the actual words of the text, the KJV translators left out God’s name in the Old Testament- יהוה – Yahweh - an omission totaling almost 7000 times, and here chose to use the word for a Babylonian fertility goddess instead of the actual word given in the Greek!
* Acts 12:4 in the KJV reads: "...intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people."
The Greek word is:
Strong's NT:3957 pascha (pas'-khah); of Aramaic origin [compare OT:6453]; the Passover (the meal, the day, the festival or the special sacrifices connected with it):
OT:6453 HEBREW: Pecach (peh'-sakh); from OT:6452; a pretermission, i.e. exemption; used only technically of the Jewish Passover (the festival or the victim):
Well-known Bible scholar W. E. Vine has this to say:
"PASCHA mistranslated 'Easter' in Acts 12:4, A. V. denotes the Passover (R. V.). The phrase 'after the Passover' signifies after the whole festival was at an end. The term Easter is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven.* The festival of Pasch held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish** feast, but was not instituted by Christ,*** not was it connected with Lent. From this Pasch the Pagan festival of Easter was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt Pagan festivals to Christianity. See PASSOVER." (Emphasis and stars, mine)
Underlined section: most people don’t know that Acts 3-4 is not just referring to the day of Passover, but to the entire season of Passover including that day, the seven days of Unleavened Bread and the day of first fruits, as well as the counting of the omer, 50 days after Passover to Shavuot/Pentecost.
*For which Jeremiah condemned the people of Judah
** Nowhere in Scripture are the terms "Jewish feast, Jewish Sabbath or Jewish laws" used. This terminology was coined by the "early church fathers" to distance themselves from the Jews, and to make acceptable their changes to the eternal torah/law of Yahweh. (See Leviticus 23. This chapter tells us that they are GOD's days and are pronounced as being FOREVER.) Scripture tells us we will keep the Sabbath, the feasts and the commandments when Messiah returns. See Zechariah 14:16-19. Ezekiel 46:1-18: tells us a prince will enter the eastern gate and make sacrifices as a priest. Only one prince in the future will also be able to act as high priest and enter through the eastern gate: Y'shua/Jesus. Every Bible scholar I've heard speak ties this passage to the millennial kingdom.
***No, it was instituted by Yahweh, the Word of God, pre-incarnate (John 1:1-5) in the OLD Testament and continued throughout the NT.
Acts 12:9: And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
Why would he think that? Because it had occurred to the people of God before.
Thus far we still have believers doing/being the following OLD Testament things:
laying on of hands
anointing with oil
feasts kept and referred to
dietary laws kept
prayers at certain times of the day
still fasting and praying
still in the synagogues
Acts 13:1-3: Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Paul, Barnabas and other believers are still fasting, praying, and laying hands on people.
Acts 13:5: And when they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.
v. 14: But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it."
The disciples are still in the synagogues and still observing the Shabbat. They participated in the torah and half-torah readings (law and prophets).
Acts 13:14-44: (please read)
In this passage, Paul preached an OT sermon and brought people to salvation. Why would he preach an Old Testament sermon? Because the Old Testament was all they had!
Acts13: 16: And Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand, he said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:
v. 26: "Brethren, sons of Abraham's family, and those among you who fear God, to us the word of this salvation is sent out.
“ men of Israel AND you who fear God” – Paul is speaking to both Jew and Gentile, as in Cornelius who feared God. Anyone else was pagan or heathen.
v. 23: "… God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,…”
It was to ISRAEL that God brought Y’shua/Jesus, Saviour. If you accept the God of Israel, then you are Israel.
Acts 13:27: "For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.
“…the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath…” Paul is still upholding the practice of Old Testament readings in the synagogue each Sabbath.
Acts 13:38-39: Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Torah/law does not forgive sins. Only Messiah’s death does that. You are justified from all things, not from things you do right but justified from the things you do wrong. God’s teaching and instructions (law/torah) tell you what is right and what is wrong. Once again, the Old Testament was all they had to figure out what God required of them in the area of obedient living with Him and with mankind. Torah is how you live; grace through Messiah’s death is how you’re forgiven. Grace is to rescue us from our old nature so that we can obey God’s torah! (See Ezekiel 36:26-27). Why is this so hard to “get” and why do so many fight against accepting this information? Because it is the adamic nature: to set aside the laws of God.
[Here are some examples of the eternal nature of torah from just one chapter of Scripture: Psalm 119: 1, 4, 9, 11, 44, 89, 98, 105, 128, 120, 140, 142, 150, 151-2, 160, 165, 172, 174. You can read the entire chapter and see that David talks about how eternal the commandments, statutes, ordinances and testimonies (all Torah) are. (See also Isaiah 40:8 and Romans 3:31)]
Acts 13:42: And as Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath.
“the people” - were Gentiles who wanted Paul to return and teach the next Sabbath.
Acts 13:44: And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.
This says that on the Sabbath, nearly the whole city assembled (in the synagogues, see previous verse) to hear the word of God; entire city cannot be only Jews and proselytes.
Acts 13:45: But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.
The Jews were jealous, so obviously what Paul was relating as something they considered their own.
Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
The Gentiles rejoiced; “the Word of the Lord” = the Tanach/Old Testament which was all they had. How could Gentile believers think they were to live differently from the Jews when they were using the exact same information from the Old Testament - teaching them HOW to live obediently to God?
Acts 14:1: And it came about that in Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a great multitude believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.
In the synagogue were both Jews and Greeks. What are Greeks doing in the synagogue? It doesn’t say they are proselytes, as it has before. Answer: They are there to hear the Word of God. There was no difference between Jew and Gentile; they were both attending the synagogue. There was no church for the Gentiles and synagogue for the Jew as we have today. They tell you that the “great multitude” was made up of both Jews and Gentiles, just as was foretold in Genesis 48.
3 Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
Again, Yahweh backs up his Word with signs and wonders as He did in the Old Testament.
Acts 14:15: "…Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.
Turn from vain things TO the living God. Live according to His ways, not your own ideas or your former ways. How do we know His ways? The Old Testament tells us; it was all they had by which to know what pleased God.
Acts 14:16: And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways
This gives you the definition of the nations, walking their own way, vs. the people of God - those who walk in His ways.
Acts 14:23: And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
The Old Testament practice of prayer and fasting is still going on.
Acts 15:1: And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."
This verse sets up the content of this chapter: Y’shua/Jesus + anything was never the message of God. It has and always will be: relationship first, then rules. This idea of Y’shua + something being necessary for salvation is from rabbinical additions to the torah, not from the Word of God. Paul constantly combats this teaching. Indeed, it is the major message of the book of Galatians.
Acts 15:3: Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren.
Conversion of the Gentiles: conversion to what? To being grafted into Israel through belief in Messiah. Why would this bring great joy? Because the Gentiles were accepting salvation and this was fulfilling the instructions the Messiah had left with them: to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Acts 15:9: and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
God made no distinction between them (Gentiles) and us (the Jews). Today, WE make a distinction; God did not. The Gentiles joined the Jews in what they were doing as they lived with God through faith in Messiah and according to His instructions in the torah. The Jews did not join the Gentiles and begin to worship God in a new and different way as Christianity does, today.
Acts 15:10: Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
This is about rabbinical fences, which said rules determine relationship. This is not the picture of Scripture, which is that relationship brings about rules. If you are not your father’s child, you are not subjected to His rules and/or discipline. If you are not subjected to His rules and discipline, then you are not His child. This is true of the natural world and the spiritual one (Hebrew 12:4-11).
Acts 15:14: "Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.
A people for God’s name: how will it honor God if these Gentile people begin to practice things that are not associated with the God of Israel? How will that glorify His name? With different practices in a polytheistic culture, it would be assumed that a different god was being worshipped by the Gentiles, not the God of Israel. If they did nothing that identified them as now belonging to the God of Israel, how would that make them a people for His name?
Acts 15:19: Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles,
What is the meaning of this phrase: “turning to God from among the Gentiles”? It means they are joining Israel, becoming a part of “one new man” (Ephesians 2:14-16). They are identified with the God of Israel, not practicing something that identifies them with a different god.
Acts 15:20-21: but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
21 "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath."
Simply put, these are four torah requirements required of the untaught Gentiles who are now being grafted into the cultivated Hebrew olive tree, just as today we tell new believers four basic beginning things: read your Bible, fellowship with other believers, pray, find a good congregation in order to be taught how to live as a Christian. This was only a starting point. The four abstentions in Acts 15 were also part of pagan temple worship, practices from which, apparently, the apostles set about to separate new Gentile believers, making a distinction between how one worships pagan gods and Yahweh, the God of the Bible. They stated that Gentiles were no longer to commit sexual fornication with the temple priestesses, not to eat anything strangled, not to drink blood, nor to eat anything sacrificed to idols: all part of the pagan temple worship practices. In removing the believing Gentiles from these practices, the apostles make a distinction between the two ways of life AND keep the new believers from bringing what they were familiar with in worshipping false gods, and applying it to Yahweh, who would not accept these things. They were also giving these new believers time to learn how to walk with Yahweh in the way He had prescribed since they were hearing Moses preached in the synagogues every Sabbath.
Acts 15:32: And Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.
Again, we still have prophets as in the Old Testament.
Acts 16:9-10: And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
10 And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
How did Paul know this vision was from God and what it meant? By the Old Testament examples that had come before; he had only to compare his experience with Old Testament Scripture to understand.
Acts 16:13-15: And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
Paul was still observing the Sabbath day, as Y’shua had as well as still baptizing. Lydia worshipped the God of the Old Testament. If Paul were preaching something that differed from the Old Testament God and His practices, do you think she’d have believed him? Once she did, she and her household were baptized, an OLD Testament practice, continuing in something with which she would have been familiar.
Acts 16:20 -21: …and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, "These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews,
21 and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans."
The disciples are still proclaiming the customs of the God of Israel from the Old Testament, contrary to other customs that come from the world.
Acts 16:25: But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them
Praying and singing praise to God were Old Testament practices. Just read the Psalms (songs) to God.
Acts 17:1-3: Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."
“for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” The Old Testament was the only “Scriptures” that Paul had at the time. The phrase “reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” is a Hebrew methodology called drashoht – to search the meaning of the text. “Opening and alleging” is common Hebrew hermeneutics meaning to open and set before them. Hebrew thinking, terminology and methodology of teaching God’s Word are still firmly in place.
Acts 17:5: But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and coming upon the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people.
The Jews were jealous of those who believed Paul from the Old Testament Scriptures, THEIR Scriptures.
Acts 17:10-11: And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.
The Bereans (Gentiles) searched the OLD Testament to see if what they were hearing was true. They could see that if Paul and Silas did not speak according to the torah and the testimony, there was no light in them (Psalm 19:7-11; Isaiah 8:20). Would any of the disciples teaching that the law was no longer applicable hold up if the Bereans were to check it out with the OLD Testament? How about us, today? We are encouraged to “be like the Bereans.” If we follow the pattern they laid in the New Testament, then how much of what we’ve been taught measures up to the OLD Testament standard the Bereans used to establish what was truth?
Acts 17:17: So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.
Paul was speaking both in the synagogue with Jew and Gentile alike as well as in the market place.
Acts 17:20: "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; we want to know therefore what these things mean."
This is a similar reaction to traditional Christianity of today when hearing what the Bible is actually saying. Back then they had: (See v. 16-19)
Epicureans who felt there was no higher purpose; saw no need for rules; please yourself, self-gratification. There’s a direct relationship between the reason for the rules and the Creator. If there’s no Creator, then there’s no need to follow a higher God. After all, if there’s no God, what am I accountable for if the rules don’t mean anything?
Stoics: reason was their god; pleasure was evil and manifested by emotion. Believed man was dual: the body was evil and rules were purposeless.
The Bible: is anti-both of these. There IS a higher purpose Who has rules and Scripture is our guide.
Acts 17:30: Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent
The message of the Old Testament was for mankind to repent and return to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to follow His ways. That is still His message in the New Testament.
Acts 18:3: …and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working; for by trade they were tent-makers.
“they were tent makers” – Tents were not the main abode of people of that day. Paul would have been very poor if he made his living from selling tents! This a reference to Paul and Aquila, making talits, the “prayer shawls” worn by men with tzitzit attached. (Numbers 15:37-41) This is another “Old Testament” commandment still being followed by Paul.
Acts 18:4: And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Paul is still in the synagogues speaking to both Jews and Gentiles there. There is no separate place of worship and gathering for the Gentiles; they are joined with the Jews.
Acts 18:6-7: And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles."
7 And he departed from there and went to the house of a certain man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.
Titius, a Gentile was a worshiper of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was not in the synagogue, but next to it. Even though Paul said he was leaving the Jews to go to the Gentiles, you’ll see in subsequent verses that he still interacted and spoke among the Jews. He did this all the way through the end of Acts.
Acts 18:9: And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;
Paul is still having visions, like in the Old Testament.
Acts 18:13: …saying, "This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law."
The unbelieving Jews accuse Paul: “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” In the book of Acts, Paul was constantly defending himself against these charges.
Acts 18:14-15: But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you;
15 but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters."
Gallio, the Roman to whom the Jews had appealed to deal with Paul, said to the Jewish accusers: “…your own law…” confirming that they were accusing Paul of persuading men to worship God by disobeying the torah. This was a false accusation.
Acts 18:18: And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.
Paul was keeping a vow that was his choice to make: a torah command that required his hair to be cut (For explanation, see Numbers 6)
Acts 18:19: And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
Paul is back among the Jews. (see 18:6, above)
Acts 18:24-28: 24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures.
25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;
26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he helped greatly those who had believed through grace;
28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Apollos is described as “mighty in the Scriptures.” He knew the Old Testament very well. Therefore, whatever Priscilla and Aquila told him did not contradict what he knew to be true according to the Old Testament. Would such a man have immediately changed the way he worshipped God or even believed someone who came to him and told him that God had now changed His mind and the previous instructions were no longer valid? No! This man would know that “if someone speaks not according to the torah and the testimony, there is no light in them.” A man mighty in the Scriptures would not have listened to such teaching. It’s much more likely that if anyone came to him saying that, he would have rejected their “messiah” as a false one.
Acts 19:1-5: And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples,
2 and he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism."
4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
5 And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
Again, the practice of baptism was not unknown among the Jews, as can be seen from this passage. John the Baptist baptized and the Jews, including the religious leaders, came to him to be baptized. Obviously, this was something with which they were familiar. Also, the nigun, as discussed previously and prophesying were familiar Old Testament practices.
Acts 19:8-10: And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
10 And this took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
Paul spoke in the synagogue and “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Does this sound like a distinction has been made between the two, as we see today?
Acts 19:11-12: And God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,
12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.
God was performing miracles through His spokesmen, as He did in the Old Testament.
Acts 19:18-20: Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.
19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
The New Testament Gentiles rejected their former way of life to practice what? American Christianity? Or, more contextually, to live in accordance with the Scriptures: to live “the Way,” a sect of Judaism.
Acts 19:21-28: Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."
22 And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
23 And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the Way.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen;
25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.
26 "And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.
27 "And not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship should even be dethroned from her magnificence."
28 And when they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
This passage reveals the nature of man. If following the truth puts our livelihood, our convenience, or our reputations at risk, we will choose our livelihood, our convenience and our reputations over the truth. By the preaching of the apostles, these men will have to choose to turn away from what they’re doing, their former way of life, their livelihood – from man’s ways (their own ways), – which is not God’s ways. We see this repeatedly today, that people’s reputation are at stake as a pastor, youth group leader or just people as church member, if they begin to turn back to the truth and go back to observing the feasts, Sabbath, etc.; if they go back to the laws and commandments of God. IF they did that, (they tell us) as a pastor, they’d lose their congregations (their livelihood), if they’re a businessman, he’d lose his reputation, if they’re a normal citizen/church member it’s too inconvenient to live God’s way vs. the way of our culture. We’re so inundated with our own culture, so absorbed into it, that any turn toward the truth puts our livelihood, our reputation and our convenience at risk and many aren’t willing to pay the price for obedience. This is sad because in Exodus 19, as well as in Peter’s letter, we are told, if you obey my laws, you’ll be a peculiar people, different from everyone else. It’s not like we weren’t warned. We want salvation with no real cost to ourselves, yet it cost our Saviour everything. Ours is the smaller price to pay.
Acts 20:6: And we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days.
“After the days of Unleavened Bread” means they are in the days of counting the omer from Passover to Pentecost (Shavuot) “on the first day of the week”
Acts 20:7: And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
“on the first day of the week” is NOT what the Greek says! Note that day is italicized, showing that the translators added that word. It was not in the original text.
The Greek is: miá toón sabbátoon. Like English, Greek has two words for numbers:
Cardinal: 1, 2, 3
Ordinal: first, second, third
One and first are not necessarily the same. Bring one orange. Bring the first orange” which implies there is more than one. These two sentences do not relay the same information. The Greek actually says:
Miá = one
Toón = of the
Sabbátoon = Sabbaths
This fits perfectly with the context and the custom of counting the Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost). Paul is still keeping God’s feasts according to God’s rules in the Old Testament.
Contrast this with v. 18 where Paul said, “from the first day.” The Greek in that verse is protos hemera, a totally different phrase than the one above. When Paul wanted to say first, he knew how. When he wanted to say “one of the Sabbaths” he knew how to do that, too. Therefore, in v. 7, Paul was relating a very Hebrew concept in context with God’s feasts, which are still being observed by Paul, the disciples, and the Gentile believers. Also in v. 7 it says, “to depart the next day” Why wait? Because Paul was waiting for the Sabbath to end, in accordance with the Old Testament instructions of God in the torah.
Acts 20:11: And when he had gone back up, and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.
“until daybreak” Paul waited for the Sabbath to be over before he traveled, again, keeping the commandments of the Old Testament by so doing. His trip would take him farther than “a Sabbath day’s journey,” so he waited for Sabbath to end.
Acts 20:16: For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus in order that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem for Shavuot/Pentecost because Paul is still observing the feasts. Nothing has changed. This is a feast when all males were to appear in Jerusalem if at all possible.
Acts 20:21: solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was preaching to BOTH Jews and Gentiles about repenting and turning to God. This is an Old Testament message: repent and return (turn) to God.
Acts 20:27-31: For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the words of God.
28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
“I have not shunned to declare to you all the words of God” What words of God is he proclaiming? The OLD Testament. We are warned about false shepherds who cause the people to stray away from the words of God in Ezekiel 34:1-10 (please read). The new believers, like the Bereans, would be comparing what was taught to the Tanakh/Old Testament. If they found the Ezekiel passage, they would not have listened to anyone trying to change God’s ways.
Acts 20:30: …and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
“…men will arise speaking perverse things, to draw away…”
Perverse = the Greek word: diastrepho (dee-as-tref'-o); to distort, i.e. (figuratively) misinterpret, or (morally) corrupt, turn away
Its root: strepho (stref'-o); to twist, i.e. turn quite around or reverse (literally or figuratively):
Paul is warning that men will come who will distort, twist and turn around the ways of God to draw people away.
This is a reality we are all dealing with today. Gentile influence entered the early believers and about the 2nd Century began to dominate and turn the “church” away from its Hebrew roots, away from walking like the Messiah and the disciples. This began with the bar Kochba rebellion which caused the believing Jews to flee Jerusalem as Messiah had commanded*. By the 3rd Century, Gentiles were driving out anything remotely “Jewish” thanks to “early church fathers” such as Origen, Marcion and John Chrysostom, the “golden mouthed” orator who hated the Jews. Add Constantine’s creed** and we’ve a real change of former ways. By the time of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., there are no Messianic belivers involved. Indeed, guards were posted all along the pathway to keep anyone like that out. Now, the “church” is officically removed from its Hebraic foundation and taken over by Gentiles and their practices. This is exactly of what Paul was warning. They changed the Sabbath, the feasts and the terminology (to: eucharist, communion, Christmas, Easter) kicking out God’s Sabbath, feasts and terminology.
*(Matthew 24:15-18; also see;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Kokhba's_revolt and look under section entitled: “Revolt.”)
** Constantine’s creed: "I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads & sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspersions, purifications, sanctifications and propitiations and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants and observances and Synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce everything Jewish, every law, rite and custom and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with The Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils."
Acts 20:32: "And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Paul is upholding the Old Testament for New Testament believers; the Old Testament was all they had at this point.
Acts 21:9: Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. 10 And as we were staying there for some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
Prophets and prophetesses were still in existence in the New Testament from the Old (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3).
Acts 21:17-20: And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18 And now the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.
19 And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law;
21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
“…how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law:” Believers in Messiah who were Jewish were still zealous for the law long after Messiah was resurrected. James is telling Paul that the believing Jews have been told something about him that is untrue. How do we know this? From the rest of the passage:
Acts 21:23: "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow;
Four believers are under a vow, the same vow of Paul in Acts 18:18. How do we know? From the rest of the passage:
Acts 21:24: …take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.
James tells Paul to keep a torah command (see Numbers 6) so that, “all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.” Paul was going to go to the temple and prove to everyone that he was not teaching others to forsake obedience to the Law, and to prove that neither did he do so, himself!
Acts 21:26: Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.
Paul goes to the temple and offers a sacrifice in accordance with the torah/law AFTER Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Acts 21:27-30: And when the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him,
28 crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place."
29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
30 And all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together; and taking hold of Paul, they dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut.
The Jews falsely accuse Paul of teaching against the torah/law. Paul will, once again, have to defend himself.
Acts 21:40: And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue
Paul speaks Hebrew to the Jews, not Latin (the language of Rome) or Greek. He continues in the “holy language of God.”
Acts 22:1: "Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you."
“Brethren and fathers (speaking to the unbelieving Jews), hear my defense which I now offer to you.” Paul will dispute their claims, yet still identifies himself with the Jews and their culture
Acts 22:3: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today.
“…strictly according to the law of our fathers (torah)” Paul is as zealous in serving God as God instructed, as they are. He then gives his testimony.
Acts 22:12: And a certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there
Ananias was a devout man, one who followed the torah (“law”) by the standard of the Law, well spoken of by the Jews. He was a man who knew the torah and was respected by the Jews. Would he have done something against the torah to which he was devoted?
Acts 22:16: 'And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'
This is exactly what happened with Naaman in 2 Kings 5. The practice continues from Old to New Testament.
Acts 23:1: And Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, "Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day."
“…up to this day.” He’s speaking to Jews saying that up to this day, he’s done nothing against the instructions (torah) of God on how to live.
Acts 23:3: Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! And do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?"
v. 5: And Paul said, "I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"
In both of these verses, Paul is speaking and acting according to the torah/law.
Acts 23:6: But perceiving that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!"
“I AM a Pharisee” - present tense. Paul hasn’t left who he is and his way of life to be a “Christian” and live a different lifestyle.
Acts 23:11: But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, "Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also."
God appeared to Paul at night and told him what his future would include. God appeared to many in the Old Testament, as well as telling His people what the future would hold.
Acts 23:29: and I found him to be accused over questions about their Law, but under no accusation deserving death or imprisonment.
Paul was accused over a question of the “law,” but was not guilty of disobeying it, as the Jews accused him of being.
Acts 24:1-5: And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with a certain attorney named Tertullus; and they brought charges to the governor against Paul.
2 And after Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor, "Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation,
3 we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.
4 "But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing.
5 "For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
Paul is falsely accused and called part of the “sect of the Nazarenes,” putting him in a sect of Judaism by the Jews - just as the Essenes were a sect of Judaism. He was not part of a “Christian” group, even in the eyes of the Jews of his day.
Acts 24:14: "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets;
Paul responded by saying that what they said is not true. He’s not making obsolete the customs/commands of Yahweh. Paul worshipped “the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets.” In this passage Paul upheld the Old Testament - specifically, the torah/law- the commandments of God in the OLD Testament.
Acts 24:16: "In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.
Paul again upholds the torah/law. “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience before God and before men.” This is the purpose of the torah. You can see this encapsulated in the “Ten Commandments” where they are divided (almost) in two, half dealing with how to live righteously with God and the other half dealing with how to live righteously with men.
Acts 24:17-18: "Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings;
18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar.
Paul – as Paul, not Saul – brought alms “to my nation” (the Jews) and “to present offerings” (after Messiah’s resurrection), he was in the temple “having been purified”; he’d obeyed torah commands as a believer.
Acts 25:7: And after he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove;
The Jews make charges against Paul “which they could not prove”. They are still falsely accusing him of teaching against the customs of Moses.
Acts 25:8: …while Paul said in his own defense, "I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar."
“Paul said in his own defense, ‘I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple….’” He has NOT done what they have accused him of doing. He still upholds the torah/law and the customs of Moses.
Acts 25:19: …but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive.
This verse is key to what the real issue was with the non-believing Jews: not the Law but Y’hsua/Jesus.
Acts 26:2-8: In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today;
3 especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 "So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem;
5 since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.
6 "And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers;
7 the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews.
8 "Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?
In this section, Paul implies he’s been falsely accused by the Jews. He again defends himself against false charges. Note: v. 4-5, “…all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up…that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.” He still considers it his religion.
Acts 26:6-8: (above) This is why the Jews were after Paul.
Acts 26:14: And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
Hebrew was spoken in the New Testament, even by Y’shua. Paul was multi-lingual. Y’shua could have chosen something else. He did not.
Acts 26:16-18: 'But arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; delivering you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'
This is the purpose of Israel being a light unto the nations has not changed since Old Testament times. They didn't always do it, but it was the purpose of God in the Old Testament: “that the nations may know, I am Yahweh.” This was the overlying purpose of the Exodus, and is restated as the present and future purpose in Jeremiah 16:19-21 (please look this up).
Acts 26:20: …but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.
“…declaring…also at Jerusalem…and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” How does one know how to do this? By the OLD Testament. Once again, Paul states the Old Testament message of repent, turn (return) to God and walk according to His ways (performing deeds appropriate to repentance).
Acts 26:22: "And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;”
Paul, as a New Testament believer, again states that he's upholding the teachings of the Prophets and Moses, and that the goal of Yahweh continues: for light to be shed so all mankind will come to Him, walk in His ways and serve Him.
Acts 26:23: …that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."
Is there a way to know the meaning of the phrase, “proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Yes. The definition is in the beginning: the Old Testament:
Light = the Word (Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 8:20).
The Word is also called truth:
Ps 119:160 - The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
Ps 119:151 - And all Your commandments are truth.
Ps 119:142 - Your law ( תורה - torah in Hebrew) is truth.*
*torah = Strong’s 8451; a precept or statute; torah signifies primarily direction, teaching and instruction (Proverbs 13:14). It is derived from the verb, yarah “to project, point out” (3384) and hence to point out or teach. The law of God is that which points out or indicates His will to man. It is not an arbitrary rule, still less is it a subjective impulse; it is rather to be regarded as a course of guidance from above. Seen against the background of the verb yarah, it becomes clear that torah is much more than law or a set of rules. Torah is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal. In the truest sense, torah was given to Israel to enable her to truly become and remain God’s special people. One might say that in keeping torah, Israel was kept. (Emphasis, mine)
*truth = Strong’s 571; emeth eh’-meth, from 539 stability, certainty, truth, trustworthiness.
Root word Strong’s 539; aman, aw-man’, a prim. Root; to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse; to render or be firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent
Aman means “to be firm, endure, be faithful, be true, stand fast, trust, have belief, believe.
Romans 1:16 and 2:10 tell us that God said to tell it to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. It also tells us there is no partiality with God. In this verse, Paul was walking according to God’s instructions.
Acts 27:9: And when considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, since even the fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them,
“the fast was already over” There’s only one time in the year that God’s people traditionally fasted and that was the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; a practice that continues to this day. Even my Bible notes that this refers to Yom Kippur, one of the eternal feasts of Yahweh, stated as eternal in the Old Testament. Paul is obviously aware of and still participating in this feast, even after Messiah's resurrection.
Acts 27:23: "For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me”
Angels are still visiting and giving guidance to those who belong to the God of Israel.
Acts 28:8-9: And it came about that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.
9 And after this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured.
Like Yahweh’s spokesmen of the Old Testament, Paul is praying, laying on hands for healing, and God is proving the miracles to back up Paul’s claim that he represents the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Acts 28:17: And it happened that after three days he called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they had come together, he began saying to them, "Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people, or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Paul said, “I have done nothing against our people, or the customs of our fathers,” Paul states that he did not teach against the commandments of God in the Old Testament. If early believers and apostles were changing things, do you think Paul would have said these things? If so, he was a liar! The ones who changed these things were Gentiles long after the 1st Century, not Paul and the apostles. To the Jews in Rome, Paul still maintains that he has done NOTHING against OUR people (he counts himself among the Jews), nor has he done anything against the customs of the fathers. He has not taught against keeping the torah.
Acts 28:22: But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere."
The Jews in Rome had heard of “the Nazarenes” and acknowledged them as a sect of Judaism, but didn’t know the details. They only knew that the Jews spoke against them.
Acts 28:23: And when they had set a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.
“from the law of Moses and from the Prophets” Paul is still teaching from and upholding these, not teaching against them or changing them.
Acts 28:24: And some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.
Some believed, some didn’t; just like today
Acts 28:25-28: And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,
26 saying, 'Go to this people and say, "You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
27 For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes; Lest they should see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I should heal them."'
28 "Let it be known to you therefore, that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen."
This message, of walking like Y’shua/Jesus and the apostles, is likewise being rejected today by “Christians” who, like the Pharisees and scribes of Y’shua/Jesus’ day, have chosen the customs of men over the commandments of God. “Christians” accuse Paul of the same thing the unbelieving Jews did: that he taught people to reject the torah and to go against the customs of the fathers. But is that what we’ve seen thus far? No, it is not.
The disciples produced a seed like the one foretold in the Old Testament and kept by Messiah; a seed that obeyed the commandments and this seed was multiplied after “its own kind” – a duplicate of what that seed was before. There is another seed in Scripture – the seed of the serpent. It stands against the Word of God, is also multiplied among the nations and produces after “its own kind”. The early disciples preached a Messiah of torah. The other seed is a torah-less Messiah; a lawless Messiah called in Scripture the anti-Messiah.
Genesis 49:10-11 says, “Judah is My Lawgiver”; it was foretold in Scripture. Judah’s the one who’ll carry the torah. The scepter shall not depart from Judah. The standard of law, the rod/scepter was carried on by Messiah when He came; it did not depart and that principle continued through His disciples and His people, reproducing His seed “after its own kind.” That’s why the gospel went to the Jews first. Once they believed in Messiah, they had both Messiah and torah (Romans 3:1-2). Those who believed already had God’s instructions, His torah. Now they’d have Messiah and that completed the picture. According to the testimony of the Word, that’s the full testimony of God. This is seen in the Ark of the Covenant: mercy (seat) and the law. (Romans 2:12-16; 28-29)
What we Gentiles miss is that Paul didn’t have to insist on keeping the torah. We miss that Paul and the other disciples DID model keeping torah right in front of the eyes of the Gentiles who have now come into belief in Messiah. Instead of asking where did Paul tell them to keep it, a better question is where did Paul directly say NOT to keep it? A change of instructions of this magnitude could not have been veiled. It would have required an edict from God that Paul could prove from the torah for the other JEWISH apostles to believe that he’d gotten it from God to have them accept it. No such New Testament edict exists. Indeed, the examples we’ve already covered show the exact opposite: Paul publicly proved several times that he upheld the keeping of torah for all, Jew and Gentile, to see.
Paul told us to follow him as he followed Messiah. If Paul is doing what Y'shua/Jesus did, where are the examples of Y'shua/Jesus living like Gentile Christians, today? If Paul did something different from Messiah, then how can he claim to be leading us in the way of the Messiah when he’d be directly contradicting Him? (Matthew 5:17 – heaven and earth still exist.) As we've seen, many of the texts that the church has used to defend walking differently from the Messiah come from a lack of study/scholarship or simply by giving a superior place to tradition over what the original source texts tell us. For ex: Matthew 15, Acts 10 and 1 Timothy 4 being used to defend unclean as now "food" when each of these passages does not give this information. The first two aren't even about food and the last one is clearly put into context of the torah when one simply looks up “food” (broma) for its meaning in the Greek and see that Paul told Timothy to check out what he ate with “the Word of God.” When one understands that the only “Word of God available for Timothy to use for this was the OLD Testament, then it is easy to see that this passage cannot be saying what the church has traditionally taught. Therefore, Paul not only didn’t eat kreas (food sacrificed to idols) if it caused a brother to stumble, we’ve no record that he ever considered (or taught others) what Yahweh calls unclean was now “food.” So, the church has taken tradition and given that superiority over what the Word of God is actually saying.
By applying our Gentile, American Christian glasses to the Scripture without going back to the words in the source documents, we have basically flip flopped the message of the New Testament, making it a different way than the way our Messiah walked, for which some very strict warnings are given in the New Testament. Doing so is in direct contradiction to many Scriptures (very clear even in the English translation) such as Matthew 5:17-18, Matthew 7:21-23, John 14:15, 1 John 2:3-6, 1 John 3:4,Revelation 22:19, as well as Scripture's admonition to be "Christ-like." If we take the Bible as a whole and really dig into the New Testament passages that are troubling or seem to be saying something different, if we bother to look at them outside of our culture and put the New Testament back into its Old Testament framework, then we find that everything fits perfectly, there are no "hanging chads" of Scripture, and there are very few changes from Old Testament to New!
Christians today, like present day Judaism, are perpetuating a falsehood saying that it’s either torah or Messiah but not both. This is not the testimony of Acts nor of the rest of Scripture. Hopefully, all who believe in Messiah will be willing to conform to the teaching of the Word, regardless of its cost to their livelihood, reputation or convenience. Consider this end-time prophecy:
19 O Yahweh, my strength and my stronghold,
And my refuge in the day of distress,
To You the nations will come
From the ends of the earth and say,
"Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood,
Futility and things of no profit."
20 Can man make gods for himself?
Yet they are not gods!
21 "Therefore behold, I am going to make them know--
This time I will make them know My power and My might;
And they shall know that My name is Yahweh."
The Way of the Messiah would like to thank Brad Scott of www.wildbranch.org for help with this study through his teaching series, "The Church in Acts."