Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Acts 4-6
My goal in writing these notes today is to give you a little more insight, a little to chew on, and if at all possible avoid writing a novel. No promises on any of those but let’s get going!
I love how, in the beginning of chapter 4, the apostles are given warnings and they became even more emboldened as a result. When times get tough, don’t shrink away, step up! That is what the power of the Spirit within us does! Less of you, more of Him.
Acts 4:13 is something that should strengthen all of us.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
We are often led to believe that we need a special education or even a seminary degree in order to preach the good news in word and deed but we clearly see this is absolutely not the case. In fact, the less steeped in doctrine we are the less we struggle to cling onto that when the Father decides to use us and we are stripped bare of all traditions and customs that don’t honor Him.
Oftentimes I see folks who feel discouraged or at a disadvantage because they weren’t raised with the Bible. While it would be great for everyone to be given the privilege of this type of upbringing, there is still a tremendous gift in being an adult and seeing it for the first time. The Father will use that sense of wonder that will come as a result of diving into His Word.
Regardless of how you were raised or where you came from – BE ENCOURAGED because we are in His word now!
Acts 4:22 may seem a bit odd when it says that the man on whom this healing was performed was more than forty years old. You may be thinking “So he was 40, why does that make this special?” What they are actually referring to is that this man was born with this affliction and had suffered from it for 40 years. So it was well known that this was nothing temporary that he could have been spontaneously or gradually healed from. This was, in fact, a miraculous healing.
Acts 4:26 “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against His anointed…”
This is quoting Psalm 2:1-2
And we’re still asking that question today.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Acts 4:32-35
This is such a far cry from where the body of believers is today. We as a body often put qualifiers on the needy and judge who we feel is worthy of aid. I always remind myself that Messiah did not dine with the people the Believers of His time assumed He would dine with.
Acts 5:1-11 Their sin was not in withholding some of the money for themselves – but in coming forward on the prideful pretense of having given all. Sometimes YHWH’s judgement comes in time, sometimes it – does not. It is good to see the Father enact swift judgement to help shake us out of our complacency and thoughts that we have all the time in the world to enjoy our sin and repent later.
In chapter 5 we see even more boldness. I love how the angel sets the group free and their would be captors wake to find them preaching in the temple!
Note: We’ve seen the word “church” a few times already in the NT and we will see it again today depending on what Bible translation you have. The word being translated here is the Greek word for ekklesia, which means, literally, “set apart ones”. Up until this point, whenever this word is referencing a group of people it is referring to Jews. So it is accurate, far more so, to read “church” as a group of set apart Believers, with the knowledge that they were primarily Jews. I wanted to point that out because I think we’ve been taught that whenever we see “church” we are seeing something entirely new and comprised of Gentiles. This is part of the manmade replacement theology which contradicts YHWH’s word.
Acts 5:29 WE MUST OBEY YHWH RATHER THAN MEN. (Read that sentence again.)
Acts 5:34 shows us Gamaliel! He was a highly revered and noted Torah (Bible) scholar and teacher who actually trained Paul. It is heartening to see Him rise up and be the voice of wisdom and reasoning here. I love the case He makes as well. Pretty much “There is no need to oppose them because if they are not of YHWH they will fail and if they are of YHWH they cannot fail no matter what we do, but we may be found, in that case, in opposition to YHWH!” (My own paraphrasing). What a wonderful mindset.
Some later Messianic literature suggests or even proposes that Gamaliel later became a believer in Yeshua but we have no proof or way of knowing this at this time. Either way, you need to remember this name. In our tradition, Christians don’t give much credit to him other than a background character. However, he was a highly respected teacher who trained the most promising Jews in knowledge of YHWH’s Word and the fact that Paul sat under his teaching speaks volumes as to what level of Torah scholar Paul was. We will see Paul mention him later in our readings.
Acts 6:1 Hellenists refers to Jews or new converts who spoke Greek. This group (the Hellenists) were likely primarily Jews. Either way, the complaints were that the Hebrew widows were being provided for better than the Hellenist widows. This was probably a simple oversight as we see an immediate desire to correct with no defensiveness or offense taken. Problem defined – solution enacted. Most likely, the Hebrew widows were simply better connected within the church and therefore it was easier for them to make their needs known as well as to receive the help they needed. By enacting this group of elders the leaders of the set apart folks were able to keep leading and a support system was put into place to see to it that the whole flock was cared for. See Deuteronomy 24:19-21 and Deuteronomy 26:12 .
Towards the end of chapter 6 we see the folks rising up against Stephen and falsely accusing him in order to bring about justification for killing him.
Pay very close attention to what they accuse him of doing: Speaking against the books of Moses and the law of YHWH. These are the accusations worthy of death in their eyes, but they had to make them up in order to condemn a man who lived by the law of YHWH.
Stephen, a Messianic Jew, will become the first martyr. But with his last breath, he’s going to preach the very word they accused him of speaking against.
I’m going to end it on that note today but we are going to go more in depth about Stephen tomorrow. I hope you have a wonderful day and thank you for being here and for allowing me to be as well.
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!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!