ACTS 7:30-60 & 8
7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
The Doctrine of Theophonies: We know this to be the Lord Jesus Christ because of the use of the word ‘Lord’ in v. 31. The ‘angel of the Lord’ is Jesus Christ (35). He was present there in the burning bush. It was ‘holy ground’; it wouldn’t be holy just for an angel.
38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
The Doctrrine of The Church: The only O.T. reference to ‘church’. It refers simply to an assembly. It was the assembly of the Jews there in the wilderness.
The Doctrine of Idolatry: The ancient pagans would worship female cows; this symbolized sexuality. They worshipped Moloch and Remphan.
44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
The Doctrine of the Tabernacle of God: We want to drag God down to this earth and not lift ourselves up to heaven.
Was Solomon wrong in building that ‘house’? God saw he and his father David’s heart and was pleased by that; but the idea of building a house for the God of the Universe is truly preposterous! God says that ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.’ But, yet, God chose to dwell with man in this ‘temple/tabernacle’.
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
The Doctrine of Rebuking: Suddenly the tone changes in this preaching sermon. Stephen, the Deacon, points the finger at these religious Jews and rebukes them. He calls them murderers. Stephens rebuke was sudden, quick, and to the point.
54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The Doctrine of Persecution: These religious leaders ‘gnashed on him with their teeth’; they were as angry as someone can get. Stephen, being filled with the Holy Ghost, wasn’t even concerned about this, but rather focused on Jesus Christ in Heaven. Jesus was ‘standing’ here; maybe He does this when one is going to be martyred for Him…out of respect and honor.
Stephen was taken outside of the city to be stoned. Clothes – did they simply need to take off their cloaks so that they could throw better? Or, was this an official act whereby the persons’ clothes were a legal token of you being a witness to this? If so, then Saul would have been the overseer of this act in a legal sense. I don’t believe that he was just someone they found to keep an eye on their belongings while they killed this man (see 8:1). The young man Saul/Paul was, I believe, approving of the stoning of Stephen; and probably was giving the ‘legal authority’ for the Jews to do this.
Stephen had been standing until this point. Finally, the stones hurt him enough that he had to fall to his knees. This is exactly the same message that Jesus Christ declared before dying. Stephen’s last dying words were: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!” The saints are said to sleep when they die. How peaceful.
1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
The Doctrine of Persecutions: Saul was definitely not innocent in this murder. It could be that Saul was a leader, or the leader, in this persecution. That church was the only church on the face of the earth; surely the Devil was focused on it.
God used this persecution to further His kingdom; it scattered the disciples throughout Judaea and Samaria; they started going beyond their city (Acts 1:8). They scattered everywhere preaching the word. Paul originally went house to house as a lost man, and then later as a saved man. He believed in house to house visitation! The devil wants to make havock of your church; be watching carefully for this. This house to house searching could happen to us today!
Persecution was used by God to help evangelize.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
The Doctrine of Deacons: Stephen was the main Deacon, most likely. Now, Philip comes on the scene, taking a prominent role. You take out a leader, then another one comes up in his place! Philip was a deacon, but now maybe he was moving into the role of evangelist (as he was later called). This deacon preaches.
The Doctrine of Miracles: Here is a non-apostle doing miracles. Apparently, many of the leaders of those first century churches had the ‘sign’ gift of miracles. I wonder if when a person is delivered from devil possession that the unclean spirit always will cry out. This could be part of the sign that they have gone.
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
The Doctrine of Sorcery: Simon the sorcerer. They would ‘bewitch’ the people; they would promote themselves as someone with great power from God. This sorcerer got saved and baptized.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
The Doctrine of the Holy Ghost: During these beginning years, the receiving of the Holy Spirit had to be authenticated first; this was apparently done when a new group of people were saved (i.e. Samaritans). We have the finished Word of God today and know all about the receiving of the Holy Spirit; they did not. They might not have believed that the Holy Spirit would come and live within them upon salvation. There was a ‘need’ for authentication for this most important event/reality. Many say this was another ‘baptism with the Holy Ghost’…I disagree.
‘Laying on of hands’: It was an outward demonstration of what was going to happen inwardly, invisibly. There may have been over a hundred to lay hands on; this would take some time. You can see where our Charismatic friends get the notion for laying on of hands and receiving the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
The Doctrine of Miracles: Some believe that money will buy just about anything. Televangelists are noteworthy for promoting this foolishness: send me $50 and I will pray for you to be healed of this infirmity; Catholics are taught to pay indulgences to help spring loved ones out of Purgatory. Charismatic leaders are somewhat like Simon here: they are looking for the power, the influence, the fame. They are looking for any way possible to have more of this power. It’s all about obtaining the next secret for spiritual power. Their heart is not right in this matter.
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
The Doctrine of Evangelism: A very biblical method of evangelizing is going village by village. Every city, town, and village needs the gospel shared with them. A true evangelist goes village by village evangelizing…are there any that do such today?!…Would you go out into a fairly unpopulated area if you sensed that God had called you there (Gaza)?
Listen for the Spirit to tell thee who and when to go to witness. Go near to where they are (home, car, yard, walking, etc.. When the Holy Spirit says to go and witness to someone, run to them, don’t delay, move as speedily as you can. If God is leading you, the situation will be ripe; it should be no problem bringing up spiritual things for they should be weighing heavily upon their heart. Try and get the person to discuss spiritual things. If they go to church or read their Bible you might ask them the same question as here. Ask them if they want help understanding some spiritual thing. If they say ‘no’, then so be it. The lost need someone to guide them. This man desired that the soulwinner come and talk to him more; they give you permission; it is all up to them once you have offered to help them. Good prospects (potential fruit bearing) will invite you in to their house; they may ask you to sit down; they should most definitely desire you to show them the truth. Someone that isn’t that interested and who you have to keep prodding to talk about spiritual things is not a good prospect at all. Ask them a question about spiritual things and see if they reply with some interest…
It all comes down to us ‘opening up our mouth’ and talking to them about Jesus. Deal with their question and then move it to Jesus Christ and the gospel.
The Doctrine of Baptism: Philip preached about the need for baptism after salvation. Interestingly, there probably were no people around other than those two (public testimony?). This newly saved person had a very simplistic view of baptism; there is water, let’s do it. We need to make sure they understand the basics prior to baptizing them. Also, the Ethiopian was greatly desiring it; it wasn’t so much the preacher twisting his arm to be baptized.
What doth hinder people to be baptized? fear, ashamed, pride, ‘my baptism’ is good enough, downplaying its importance, unrepentant heart, disagreement with church beliefs, not being saved etc. In general, the key prerequisite to being baptized is truly believing with all one’s heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This one issue needs to be examined fairly well. Back then, the main issue was Jesus Christ; this man led a fairly righteous life.
Philip was originally one of the seven (deacons) with the church of Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). At the beginning of this chapter we see that he has at least temporarily left his work there with the church and is evangelizing in Samaria. Later, he is shown to be an evangelist (Acts 21:8). Philip was officially sent out of that first Baptist church in Jerusalem; he had authority to baptize from that church. He would be acting much like Paul and the other apostles (evangelize, baptize, get churches planted). They went down into the water together; thus, there needs to be deep water; the baptizer should be in the water with them.