Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Acts 18-20
Acts 18:2 This chapter has a lot of statements that just leave you hanging. Invariably these tend to tell a much deeper story and invite the reader, should they choose, to dig deeper in order to reveal their treasures. Acts 18:2 is one of those statements that tells us Claudius had commanded the Jews to leave Rome. If you think there is more to this than you’d imagine, you’d be right. Rather than recap it all here (it is a deep well), I’m going to direct you to Elliot’s commentary on biblehub, start at the fourth paragraph down that begins with bold letters “Because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome.—” Wow! Talk about interwoven history!
Acts 18:4 tells us that Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath that he was there (which I take to mean taught and discussed scriptures). We are told these discussions were taking place with both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles). What a heart he had! In acts Acts 18:11 we learn that the time he was there encompassed a period of one year and six months.
When we arrive at Acts 18:6 we see Paul being fiercely rejected by some, but at the same time we’re told that the leader of the synagogue was a believer and had led his entire household to be likewise. In the past few days we’ve repeatedly seen how the Father will use a few people of great influence to encourage and embolden others. I just want to take a moment to let you know that for someone, you could be that person of great influence – and you may never know it.
Acts 18:18 Paul’s vow. We are given a simple statement here “At Cenchrae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.” And then the narrative moves on. As you surely suspect, this single sentence, which may seem out of place, is telling us a deeper story than we realize. Nothing else is said about this vow at this point but we will discuss it further once we get to Acts 21 so put it in your back pocket for now.
I want to point out something that Amy Castor noticed in our reading of Acts 18 which is something I had not known before but it is very important.
In at least the following translations (but perhaps more) a sentence has been removed: NIV, NLT, ESV, BSB, BLB, NASB, CJB, CSB, CEV, GNT, HCSB, ISB, NET, BHEB, GW, BAS, JB, ASV, etc..
However, it still appears in the AKJV, KJ2000, AB, KJ, NKJ, and the Scriptures translation.
That sentence is found in Acts 18:21, in some translations, and it is: “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem;”
You can see how most of the popular translations deal with it by clicking here:
However, I also came across one footnote that stated some Greek manuscripts may not have included it.
Why was this removed? There is a lot of commentary on this if you’d like to dig around and find it, but I’m afraid that at the end of the day, we can only speculate. Generally when things are added to and taken away from the Bible it is to support a doctrine (see Deut 4:2) or because early manuscripts were found not to have that verse. However, in this case it appears that some early manuscripts do include this statement but some do not so this one could be a mixed bag of all possibilities.
This is why we are to be Bereans! When we diligently search the Scriptures and read them daily, things like this stand out to us and when we miss them, iron sharpens iron (thank you, Amy!)! Food for thought today.
If we consider that the aforementioned statement does appear in some early manuscripts, we might find ourselves justifiably asking which feast it was that Paul was so adamant about keeping? We can’t know for sure because this text doesn’t tell us but in Acts chapter 20 we will see Paul keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread (and consequently Passover) as well as Shavuot (also called Pentecost). We will find these gaps in knowledge in terms of details we would like to know but aren’t told, more often moving forward and they will be most apparent to us in Paul’s letters in that, he is writing replies but we aren’t given the benefit of the content of the letters he was actually replying to.
Someday we will be able to fill in all these gaps and know the answer to all the questions we can’t know the answer to now. For now, we have the comfort and joy of being able to seek the Father through exploring the knowledge He has put before us in this wondrous Book! That is enough to keep me busy for sure!
I just want to point out that repeatedly in our texts/translations we will see “The Jews” set up as the unilateral bad guy. But if we continue to pay attention to the text we will see that both Jews and Gentiles were sitting under Paul’s teaching, believing, and joining in his ministry. At one point even be told that thousands of Jews heard the message and believed. Again, I point this out to help us flush out that Jews Vs Christians mentality that has poisoned the body against the will of YHWH for far too long.
Acts 19:13-16 is a lesson to us all. Notice in this exchange that the evil spirits (demons) knew who their enemies were. They knew the Messiah and they even knew of Paul, but they did not know these seven sons of the high priest. The adversary does not bother to know those who come to him willingly. But if you are a force for the Father, better believe your name is on the attack list and they know full well who you are. Expect attack. In fact, if you are seeking to know the Father and His word, it is safe to assume you are under attack right now.
Which brings me to a word of caution: In these trying times, modern day prophets and dreamers of dreams are rising up and developing a following fast. We must realize that the adversary knows how to deceive good men as well as bad.
A reminder for the wise: You don’t need them and it is best to not seek them out. Spend that time, instead, seeking Him in His word. YHWH is enough.
All too often we see folks dipping their toes in the Bible while spending the bulk of their time following “spiritual” leaders instead. We must remind ourselvs, daily, that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SECOND HAND RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SECOND HAND RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORD. Don’t let the desire for a quick fix pull you away from a thorough and daily study of the word.
YHWH is enough.
Say it with me.
He. Is. Enough.
Acts 19:21-41 When we read of the riot of Ephesus, there is one big takeaway that jumped out at me. This is a lesson from Human Nature/Living In The Flesh 101:
If the word of YHWH discredits or drives a wedge between what some hold dear or even hold as gods, those people will seek to discredit the word of YHWH and those who bring it to them.
You may need to digest that a bit for it to fully absorb.
A BIG lesson from Acts 20 – Okay, take a deep breath because we’re about to dive deep.
Two things are very important in being able to understand what we are reading here: Context and knowledge of the Biblical Feasts. I know some of y’all are really tired of me talking about the Feasts but hang in there because first and foremost, they are important to our Father and secondly, they are important in understanding Scripture, as is the case with Acts 20:6-16. I won’t even get into their importance in the return of our Messiah but I strongly recommend you look into that when time permits.
Let’s start with Acts 20:7 because there is a translation error here which we are going to iron out.
In most Bibles this verse begins with something akin to “On the first day of the week…”
However, if you look at the Greek words being translated, you’ll see that they are “mia ton sabbaton”.
What does mia ton sabbaton mean? If we were to accurately translate that, it would translate to: “one of the Sabbaths”.
But I want to show you how to find that for yourself.
First, lets look at Acts 20:7 in a listing of several translations:
Note how many say “first day of the week” and how many variances there are! How do we know what is right?
If you look up at the top of that screen and click “Interlinear” you will see this:
Here we see Mia Ton Sabbaton. However, the translation over the words still hold up the “first day of the week” translation. But let’s check out each word individually to see their meaning.
Now click the number above mia (Strongs Greek 1520)
https://biblehub.com/greek/1520.htm and we see it means “one”, not first.
Go back to the Greek and you’ll see it says in the English it says “of the week” under Sabbaton, BUT if we click on Sabbaton we will see the following:
And we see it means Sabbath, seventh day.
One of the Sabbaths.
Most translations are telling us that this means first day of the week but in Greek, Mia means one. Protos means first.
Mia Ton Sabbaton is a Greek phrase that does not even contain the word “day”
Mia ton sabbaton – one of the Sabbaths
Crazy isn’t it? Now why would a Sabbath be denoted as one of the Sabbaths? Context is where all of this makes sense.
In Acts 20:6, the verse right before we are told they gathered on “one of the Sabbaths” we are told that they had just finished keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Leviticus 23 is the chapter that details YHWH’s Feasts. In Leviticus 23:15-16 we read about the Feast of Weeks:
15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. Lev 23:15-16
This counting of the seven full weeks begins right at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They count off Sabbaths, which leads up to the Feast of Weeks. Note that it is seven full weeks but we are also told that they are to count 50 days. This counting of fifty days is how the Feast of Weeks got it’s Greek name, which is Pentecost. Pentecost, in Greek, means fiftieth.
Now read Acts 20:16 for the big light bulb moment.
These were special Sabbaths which they were counting as part of keeping the Feasts. The phrase, One of the Sabbaths, lets us know that. The text tells us where they are in terms of the Feast Season and this phrase is confirming that these events were, in fact, taking place in a specific time period in between two feasts. It also shows us that they were actively living in obedience by keeping these feasts according to YHWH’s instructions.
Why did they translate it this way? It was possibly out of ignorance. I don’t mean that as a demeaning or insulting term but as the original defintion: they just didn’t know. Most of these texts were translated by folks in a faith descended from those in agreement with the Council of Laodicea, who had made it illegal for Christians to keep the “Jewish” feasts and even to rest on the “Jewish” Sabbath. So this knowledge, which should have been ingrained in all followers of YHWH so that we recognize this immediately in the text, was just as lost on them as it was on us- and they assumed mia ton Sabbaton had to just be another way of denoting a Sabbath, with some translations going so far as to translate Sabbaton to Sunday (<-That was a bit less innocent though).
If this translation error wasn’t out of ignorance, what would be the other motivation? You know that by now so I’ll leave it to you to consider.
So we have to ask ourselves: How much more have we missed because we weren’t raised with the knowledge the Father meant for us to be raised with? Each time we read through the word you will find more and more nuggets of wisdom. You’ll find that the Father gifts us knowledge in layers, with each layer building atop the other. Knowledge of the Feasts serves as a lens that allows countless passages to come into focus.
However, don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t know and don’t feel overwhelmed because there is so much we still need to learn. Instead, be excited that you know what you know now, and be encouraged that we are here, together, being led by the Father. We’ve found the source! We’ve come such a long way and yet, the journey is only beginning. He is so good to us!
Acts 20:26-33 Contains a bold statement from Paul which I need to confess to you that I cannot say for myself:
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[a] which he obtained with his own blood.[b] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 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. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Acts 20:26-33
While I can honestly say I have not coveted anyone’s wealth and thereby that has not motivated me to soften the gospel, I need to confess to you that I have shrunk back from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.
When I first started reading the word for myself, I was surprised, sometimes angry, and often even hurt to find that so much of what I’d been told the Bible said didn’t line up with what it actually said. At the time, I had already been led to start an online Bible study and I put that on hold while I worked these issues out with the Father. I kept saying “Father, I can’t tell them this. They won’t hear this coming from me.” but I kept reading.
As the Father’s words continued to be clear and repetitive, time and again I’d bring Him that same plea “Father, I can’t tell them this. They won’t hear this coming from me.” I was twisted and torn. The Bible made so much sense for the first time in my life – but that was because I had learned to let it be the straight edge and I’d freely cast aside all that didn’t line up with it. But that pile of things I had to cast aside grew and grew and all the while the Father was impressing on me, relentlessly, that I was supposed to start this Bible study group.
Finally, after months of pushing back, He began to increasingly frustrate me. I went outside to spend some time in prayer one day, intent on begging Him to let this one drop because in my mind there was no way people would listen to me share His truths on such a large scale when they contradicted man’s doctrine in so many key areas. And so, I issued my plea yet again “Father, I can’t tell them this. They won’t hear this coming from me.” And this time, I heard a voice my mind clear as day and nothing at all like my own respond “You get them in my Word and you let me tell them.”
And that is when I knew my purpose.
There have been countless evenings when I ran my notes by my husband, my friends because I wanted them to make sure they were okay and not too offensive. I have never sought to offend but the word of our Father is convicting and when we feel it is our toes being stepped on, it hurts. And when I have to share something in the Word which we know will step on the toes of others, I hesitate because I know that pain and I know that it presents a crossroads, a point of decision. It is my sincere prayer that my work will bring people closer to Him rather than drive them away.
And each time, first and foremost, before I write my notes, as I’m writing my notes, and before I share them with anyone, I pray. I beg, plead, and beseech the Father to tell me what I should remove. And when I come to these tricky passages where the Father’s instruction are so glaringly clear but I know they intersect or even split in two beloved doctrine, I ask Him to take this cup from me. What a weak person I am! There have been times when I have actually asked the Father not to make me share His Word because I knew it will offend people. Because I don’t want my words to be the ones that send you running away, I want them to send you running to Him.
But sometimes people (including myself) just aren’t ready. We rely on the Father to prepare that soil, all we can do is water it. And so, many nights, as I finish up my notes I’m inwardly crying out to Him and asking for just one more assurance that they are okay to post. We’ve had this particular conversation each night since starting this Bible study and yet He always responds in kind:
Is it true according to my Word?
Are you saying this because you love them?
If I answer yes to both of those I know what I have been called to do and as a result, what I have to do.
I saw a great quote on social media said: One of the problems with modern believers is that we’ve replaced “This convicts me” with “This offends me”.
With that quote in mind, I want to end on this note: If something in the Bible offends us, we need to take it up with the author.
But if you’re not quite ready to do that, I’m happy to take the blame, as long as you promise me you’ll keep reading.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!