Jesus Christ Prison Ministry

Book of Acts

with Commentary

The Journey

Part 8

Up to this point in Acts, the early Christians had been floundering, getting their footing. The transition from a “member of a church”, controlled and ruled by man to becoming a “member of God’s family”, His ekklēsia, was not easy. It took several years to get their bearings. God recognizes that we are human, with minds that need to be educated, not controlled. His Spirit was sent to educate. The church was created to control. The Spirit of God, through metaphors, divine appointments, persecutions, study of Scripture, discussions and lots of prayer, began to open up to the ekklēsia the simplicity of God’s salvation. They began to realize that for the first three thousand years of earth’s history, there was no “church”. Adam and the “sons of God” never went to “church”. As exampled by Enoch, they communed with God in nature. Mostly on an individual basis. The purpose of this “communion” was to develop the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life God required for their eternal life. That can only come about through a personal, experimental relationship with Jesus Christ.

After the flood, Noah and his family continued the tradition of communing with God in nature and never developed a “church”, religion or denomination. They could never have imagined putting God in a “box” and selling Him.

However, it was not long before the grandkids and their descendants became discontented with God and began developing their own religions to satisfy their egos and pride. Pagan temples (churches) were built and the simple sacrifice God instituted, to remind them of their sins and their need for a Savior, was adulterated and formalized into religions and denominations.

Abraham was called to separate, ekklēsia, himself out from among them. God needed someone to keep the simplicity of His worship alive in the world. He didn’t build one church or start any religion. He talked with God out in nature, under the stars and on the hills of Palestine. God came to visit him, not in a “church” but, at his home. He was to keep alive the communion which developed the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. Genesis 26:5.

In all your church-going experience, when was the last time Jesus came to visit you in your home? How about angels? I have had that experience. It has nothing to do with church, but a willingness to serve God as He commands. He never commanded you to go to church. He commands you to go to Him and live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.

However, with the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt, the simplicity of God’s worship was soon whipped out of them. Pagan and idolatrous church worship systems were eroding the knowledge of God’s plan for the salvation of the world. They were forgetting how to commune with God. They were forgetting how to live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life. God had to take drastic measures to assure the survival of His salvation plan for the world.

With the exodus, ekklēsia, of the Israeli people, God isolated them from the pagan and idolatrous nations for 40 years in order to reorient them to His simple plan of salvation. In the wilderness He instructed them to build Him a sanctuary. This was not a “church”. The people did not congregate in the sanctuary. In fact, unless you were a priest making an offering, you were not permitted anywhere near the sanctuary. You would be struck dead just for looking at the articles in the sanctuary. The priests, those who represented Jesus in His priestly duties, were the only ones who could look upon the sanctuary furnishings. They had to cover them before the Levities could carry them. The sanctuary was for Jesus to dwell in. The people were able to look at the sanctuary from a distance and see the glory of God shining out from it. They were able to look at the glory of God as they held personal communion with God out in nature. They were reminded that they were to live the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life for their eternal salvation.

The temple services, feast days and rituals were to be constant reminders of the holiness of God and their need of a Savior. But the temple services, feast days and rituals had nothing to do with “church” or their salvation. There were no church buildings anywhere in Israel before the Babylonian exile. This was to keep the Israelites from breaking up into factions. The feast days were to be kept only where God commanded them to be kept. (Deuteronomy 12:5). This was for the purpose of bringing the Israelites together three times a year as a nation-family. They were to be reminded during these feast days (only three times a year) that they were a distinct and separate nation-people from the idolatrous nations around them. In a sense, the three feasts were the equivalent of the New Testament “ekklēsia”, the coming out. They were to “come out” from their everyday businesses and associations, and from the nations around them and meet only in Jerusalem to reaffirm family ties and national commitments. Those commitments included the commitment to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly and to live sinlessly.

With the death of Jesus, and the tearing of the temple curtain from top to bottom by the unseen hand of an angel, the complete temple system came to an end. As Jesus exclaimed on the cross, “It is finished”. Since God has never commanded us to keep the feast days or any of the temple rituals, services and traditions anywhere else, they ceased to exist. Everything related to the temple services, feast days, sacrifices, rituals and traditions are “finished”. Israel would no longer exist as a nation under God since they had rejected their God for Caesar. Because they had adulterated the temple system, it no longer represented God and His plan of salvation. The theocracy ended.

Therefore, the Christians were to go back to the original concept and plan practiced by “Christians” before the Egyptian bondage. They were now to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16. But the Jewish church members were not willing to go back to the original plan of God. “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Jeremiah 6:16. Therefore, God went to the Gentiles.

It has now been about 23 years after the resurrection of Jesus. The Christians are finally getting it together. The jigsaw puzzle of the Old Testament was finally fitting together and making a beautiful picture. As they stood by the road and looked for the ancient paths, the paths their ancestors, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had taken, they found the rest God offered their souls. Now they were ready to go and share the fullness of the gospel with the world. Not just the concept of Jesus as the Messiah and the “Lamb of God”, but to bring the people to ekklēsia, to come out from the church and religious systems of both the Jews and pagans. They were to worship God and serve Him in truth - simply living in obedience to the Ten Commandments. They were to listen to Jesus and Jesus only. The truth was finally settling in that He truly was the only Way, the only Truth to the only Life. Nothing else was to come between the sinner and Jesus. Not even a church. When Jesus stated, “Come unto Me”, He meant exactly what He said. Each individual is responsible for his own eternal life. We are to go, individually, to Jesus to learn from Him, through the Holy Spirit and the reading of the Bible, our own duties and responsibilities for Heaven. It had been a long journey from the resurrection of Christ to where the full understanding was sinking in. But the Christians were ready now to take the “whole” picture to the world. The journey began.

Acts 17:1 - Acts 18:22

Paul and Silas traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.  As usual, Paul entered there and on three Sabbaths discussed the Scriptures with them. 

Interesting to note, he did not discuss church doctrine, which church was the “right” church, church services, traditions, feast days or ceremonies. He “discussed the Scriptures with them”. There was no arguing, yelling, trying to “one up” them. He “discussed” and explained who Jesus was by Old Testament Scripture. That is not done today. Our churches are so full of themselves, everything in our churches and denominations are in some way trying to prove “our” church is better than “your” church. But none of it is proving that you must get out of your church, turn to Jesus and live as He taught, the perfect, sinless and commandment keeping life.

The Sabbath, years after Jesus had risen, was still kept by the Christians. It is a part of the Ten Commandments and cannot be broken or changed. Jesus kept the Sabbath as all true Christians will do, following in His footsteps. If Jesus had broken the Ten Commandments by breaking the Sabbath, He would have become a sinner. Jesus never broke the Sabbath; nor has He authorized anyone to change it. Those who attempt to change or break the Sabbath are fighting against Jesus. Have nothing to do with them. Adding or subtracting from the Ten Commandments is a sin.

He explained and showed them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead: “This very Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Messiah.” 

The church that claimed to be “of God” and “looking for the coming Messiah” had completely missed Him. They had all been blinded by their church organization. They were not able to see past their church and see the God whom they believed to love and worship. And why did the Messiah have to “suffer and rise from the dead”? Because He lived the perfect, sinless life of the Old Testament. If you live it, you also will suffer for His name and “rise from the dead” when Jesus comes. “For you have been given the privilege for the Messiah’s sake not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him.” Philippians 1:29. 

It is interesting that in all these examples of Paul preaching the Word of God, not once will you find him trying to persuade people to go to church or stop keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath was simply accepted as fact, since it was part of the Ten Commandments and kept by Jesus. Paul taught people to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments: all of them. Not once will you hear him trying to persuade anyone to break the Ten Commandments up into pieces. As Paul later wrote, “Do we, then, abolish the Law by this faith? Of course not! Instead, we uphold the Law.” Romans 3:31. 

Some of them were persuaded and began to be associated with Paul and Silas, especially a large crowd of devout Greeks and the wives of many prominent men. 

This ministry, since 1997, teaching the truth about Jesus, is beginning to persuade some that all we need is Jesus. Not many church members, but many of the unchurched are listening to the Spirit and learning that all we need to do is live in obedience to Jesus. God is filling the ranks of His “Ekklēsia” with those who want nothing to do with the churches and denominations of this world. All they want is Jesus and the life He offers. They do not want any Catholic-church-invented-system to come between them and Jesus. That would be “anti” Christ.

But the Jews became jealous, and they took some contemptible characters who used to hang out in the public square, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. They attacked Jason’s home and searched it for Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the people. 

Oh yes, of course, the church was not pleased. The church became jealous that people were turning to these independents instead of to “church”. How dare they! Did the people not know that their church was of God? That God Himself had raised it up and set in motion the temple laws and services? After all, the church was the one preserving the knowledge of God and His Word. How would people learn of God without a church? However, preserving the Word of God on parchment was not the same as preserving the Word of God in the heart. In actuality, all church was preserving was ego, pride, arrogance, power and position. “Look at me!”

When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials and shouted, “These fellows who have turned the world upside down have come here, too, and Jason has welcomed them as his guests. All of them oppose the emperor’s decrees by saying that there is another king—Jesus!” 

And that they were doing, turning “the world upside down”. The world of “church” was being turned on its head. The Synagogue (church) system, along with the pagan systems, all started by man and not God, were being dismantled by these independents. The synagogue (church) system, copied from the pagans while the Jews were in their Babylonian captivity, had been perfected to keep church members in line. But if members followed Jesus, how would the church system maintain control over the people?

Therefore, the church needed civil help. In order to gain the support of the civil government they had to find a common denominator. That common denominator was “authority”. Since the independent and “offshoot” preachers refused to bow to the authority of the church, we will claim they are opposing “the emperor’s decrees by saying that there is another king -- Jesus”. That should do the trick!

The crowd and the city officials were upset when they heard this, but after they had gotten a bond from Jason and the others they let them go. 

However, as always, it isn’t God’s people who cause the commotions and disturbances. Jesus has told us to obey the civil government as long as it does not interfere with the keeping of the Ten Commandments. It is the wicked church people who are always fighting for their “rights” and “power” and “authority”. Christians live in service, obedience, love and respect. Therefore, since the Christians were not the ones causing the commotion, the city officials bonded Jason and let the others go. God brings peace. Church brings turmoil. Interesting to note, the Bible never teaches us to be “obedient to a church”.

That night the brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. 

Talk about looking for trouble. You would think Paul would have learned his lesson by now and stopped going to the churches. All you get is hate, destruction and trouble from church. But Paul still had hope that church members would accept Jesus as their Messiah and turn from church to the living God. Here in Berea, Paul found church members willing to put aside their church and listen to Scriptures.

These people were more receptive than those in Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive the message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if those things were so.  Many of them believed, including a large number of prominent Greek women and men. 

How I pray that someday church members will put aside their church policy books and manuals, stop looking to church “leaders” and sit quietly, carefully examining the Scriptures for their own eternal life. I get letters from both inmates and those who are not, who are always talking about their church, this minister or pastor or some other church entity. But they never talk about obeying Jesus. It is all about church.

But when the Jews in Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul also in Berea, they went there to upset and incite the crowds. 

This is Thessalonica 2.0. The church from Thessalonica was not pleased that the church members in Berea were actually studying the Scriptures on their own. How sinful! No, we must send a mob over there to “upset and incite the crowds”. Let us take the minds away from searching Scriptures and put them back on the church.

A friend of mine shared with me the following. She had left her church and after some time, her minister asked why she was not going to church. She explained how she was enjoying the peace and quiet of studying the Bible on her own. He stated that it wasn’t a good idea for her to study the Bible by herself. And this was a minister of a Sabbath, church-going denomination. How sad. The Sabbath denomination that was raised up by God to bring people back to the Bible, no longer wants people to go to the Bible without “Catholic” church help. You don’t need church to teach you the Bible. All you need is the Holy Spirit. Since the church has driven Him away, stay out of church and let the Spirit teach you.

Then the brothers immediately sent Paul away to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed there. 

It appears that Paul had enough and left Silas and Timothy to continue the work. Paul understood that it was he who was the focus of their hate. After all, he was a “traitor” to the church. He had been a high-ranking member of the Pharisee party and was now teaching people to leave the church and follow Jesus. What heresy!

The men who escorted Paul took him all the way to Athens and, after receiving instructions to have Silas and Timothy join him as soon as possible, they left. 

Paul is now in Athens. Here was the center of learning for the world of his day, debasing itself with idolatry. It was here, about 385 BC, that Plato founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. (Wikipedia). Paul was well aware of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle who were great world philosophers and moral thinkers. The information from Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel must have been well known to the Greek philosophers. The Jewish God was not foreign to them. Paul was now in Athens to share the truth that Plato philosophized about. “Plato once disclosed this knowledge to the public in his lecture On the Good (Περὶ τἀγαθοῦ), in which the Good (τὸ ἀγαθόν) is identified with the One (the Unity, τὸ ἕν), the fundamental ontological principle.” Wikipedia. Interesting to note, about three hundred years after Plato, Jesus stated, “No one is good except One—God”. Matthew 19:17.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was deeply disturbed to see the city full of idols. 

As he looked out over the city of Athens from the Acropolis, he began to see more clearly the parallel between the church and the pagans. Church was just another “idol” the church members were worshiping and bowing down to. No different than the pagan idols. Each was taking the eyes of the people off of God and onto man-made wisdom. The Greek word “anti” means, “in place of” and “against”. If you are against something, you are putting yourself “in place” of it. Their idols and churches were not only taking the place of God, but in the process, were setting themselves up against God. But none of it was changing their characters for Heaven.

So he began holding discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and other worshipers, as well as every day in the public square with anyone who happened to be there.

Are we today as willing to share our love of Jesus and His truth with the church and “other worshipers”? Do we, “in the public square” of life bring Jesus to those around us?

Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some asked, “What is this blabbermouth trying to say?” while others said, “He seems to be preaching about foreign gods.” This was because Paul was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 

The truth about Jesus may make you look like a “blabbermouth” to those around you, but so what. Is not their eternal life more important than what people think about you? What Christians are to be teaching truly is about “foreign gods”. The churches of the world today have no idea who Jesus is and what He taught. He is as foreign to the churches of today as He was to the church and the pagans of Paul’s day.

Once again, what was the “good news” to Paul? Paul taught what Jesus taught. Jesus taught the good news to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments in order to attain to the resurrection. That is strange to the churches and the world today. They have never heard it.

Then they took him, brought him before the Areopagus, and asked, “May we know what this new teaching of yours is? It sounds rather strange to our ears, and we would like to know what it means.” 

That is all Paul wanted. He just wanted to be heard. It wasn’t about whether or not they would believe him. It wasn’t about how many converts he would make. He spoke up because he loved Jesus and wanted to share the gospel. If they believed, great. If they didn’t, nothing he could do about it. Are you sharing the teachings of Jesus to all around you no matter what the outcome? And yes, it will sound “rather strange” to the ears around you. They have never heard it in their churches.

Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there used to spend their time doing nothing else other than listening to the latest ideas or repeating them. 

That sounds like most Christians today. That is all they do, spending “their time doing nothing else other than listening to the latest ideas or repeating them”. Television, radio, on-line, flyers, papers, churches, phones and any other media outlets, it is all gossip. Around and around and around it flows, but nothing from it has anything to do with knowing Jesus and living as He commands: perfect, sinless and commandment keeping.

So Paul stood up in front of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in every way. 

Today, we might stop there and say, well, they are religious and believe in “god”, let God deal with them. But Paul understood that being religious or belonging to a church or believing in “god” did nothing to bring you eternal life. He had to bring them the One and only Way to that eternal life.

For as I was walking around and looking closely at the objects you worship, I even found an altar with this written on it: ‘To an unknown god.’ So I am telling you about the unknown object you worship.  The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in shrines made by human hands, and he isn’t served by people as if he needed anything.

Oh, oh, this was a slap at the church who believed that God did live in their “shrines made by human hands”. Those shrines they called “synagogues” and a temple in Jerusalem and what we call “churches” today. God doesn’t need anything from you or your church. All He wants is our obedience to His laws.

He himself gives everyone life, breath, and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth, fixing the seasons of the year and the national boundaries within which they live, so that they might look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him.

Paul did not tell them they had to go to church or make a new church or denomination in order to find God. Paul was only following the example of Jesus. When Jesus sat on the “Mount of Blessing”, He did not organize the people into churches or denominations. He did not appoint leaders to “take charge” of the people. He taught them how to live, individually, the sinless, perfect and commandment keeping life, the He sent them home to live it. You don’t need a “church” to do that. God can be found anywhere you look, if you are willing to “see”. It is the churches that have obscured God and have made it almost impossible to find Him.

The Athenians understood this perfectly. They were philosophers who had been philosophizing for over 300 years on this topic: How to live the perfect life. How to find the “Good” or the “One” way of living. Therefore, Paul is “philosophizing” with them and showing them how to find Him.

Of course, he is never far from any one of us.  For we live, move, and exist because of him, as some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children, too.’  So if we are God’s children, we shouldn’t think that the divine being is like gold, silver, or stone, or is an image carved by humans using their own imagination and skill. 

That is so correct. Our churches, no matter how well built “by humans using their own imagination and skill” can never bring you to Jesus. “He is never far from” you. We are all His children and He wants to make Himself known to you personally. But for that to happen, you must separate, ekklēsia, yourself from the churches and idols of this world and sit quietly with Jesus reading His Word.

Though God has overlooked those times of ignorance, he now commands everyone everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice through a man whom he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” 

And there it is. “God has overlooked those times of ignorance” when the people needed the temple sacrifices, feast days and ceremonies to point to Jesus. But those days are gone. They are “finished”. Jesus came, and God raised Him from the dead. Now, all He commands is for “everyone everywhere to repent”, leave the churches and separate from the sins in your life. God will judge the world with justice. Jesus will simply ask, Did you obey Me? “When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels are with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be assembled in front of Him, and He will cull them out, one from another, like a shepherd separates sheep from goats.  He will put the sheep on His right but the goats on His left.  Then the king will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by My Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, because I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed Me.  I was naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you took care of Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’” Matthew 25:32-36. Nothing there about going to church. Jesus did not command us to go to church or build a church. Who are you obeying? On which side of Jesus will you be standing?

When they heard about a resurrection of the dead, some began joking about it, while others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 

And so it is today. When people hear that they must stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get their eternal life, some begin to joke about it and others blow it off. Their church is more important than the teachings of Jesus.

And so Paul left the meeting.  Some men joined him and became believers. With them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and some others along with them. 

Just because Jesus warned us that very few would be saved, does not give us the right to sit in church with a smug look on our faces thinking we are one of those few. If you sit in church, you are lost. You are not following in the footsteps of Jesus or the disciples who were out teaching people about the good news. They didn’t calculate the probability of how many would accept before “sharing”. They just stepped out and shared. If you are too embarrassed to share the good news with those around you, Jesus will be too embarrassed to present you to the Father. You will die in your comfort zone sitting in church.

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 

We do what we can, and then we move on. God cannot force anyone to learn and obey the truth. We are individually responsible for our eternal death or eternal life. Sitting in church will not get you any closer to eternal life, but it will definitely take you closer to eternal death.

There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to visit them, and because they had the same trade he stayed with them. They worked together because they were tentmakers by trade. 

Aquila and Priscilla were Christians. They obeyed the government and left Rome. They didn’t riot, protest or file grievances. When we become Christians, we recognize that God is working for our good through the circumstances of life. God is moving events and we need to just go with the flow. God will work it all out. But if we are trying to manipulate and make things go our way, God cannot work in our life.

When Paul was able, he did what he could to work and earn funds for the work. But that happened seldom. Most of Paul’s journeys were financed by the ekklēsia who loved him and supported his work.

Every Sabbath he would speak in the synagogue, trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks. 

Paul was not a member of the church. He simply went there because that is where the Jews were. However, instead of trying to become a member, or sit quietly listening to the Rabbi, he worked the members “trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks” to leave their church and religious systems and be united with Jesus.

But when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself entirely to the word as he emphatically assured the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 

Have you found yourself lately “emphatically” assuring your church members, family, co-workers and friends that Jesus is the Messiah and we need to live in obedience to Him? That was the example of Jesus and the disciples. Who are you following?

But when they began to oppose him and insult him, he shook out his clothes in protest and told them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the gentiles. 

He finally had had enough. After years and years and years of trying to bring the truth of Jesus to his own church, he turned his focus in another direction. There is only so much one can do. Fortunately, Paul did not sit down in the church and give up. He didn’t give in to the church. He found another sector of society that was far more willing to accept the truth than those who claimed to be “God’s church”. How fooled they were.

Then he left that place and went to the home of a man named Titius Justus, who worshiped God and whose house was next door to the synagogue. 

If the church wasn’t going to listen, he went to the home of Titius Justus and opened up his own “university of the Scriptures”. Notice, Paul didn’t go build a church or set up a denomination. In a home, he taught the teachings of Jesus and how to be obedient to them. He did not start a “church” or take memberships. He did not organize them into “church” leadership positions for fame or glory. Jesus and Jesus only was his message. Will you open up your home and do the same for Jesus?

Now Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole family. Many Corinthians who heard Paul also believed and were baptized. 

By refusing to let the church cower him, Paul was able to find a few who believed in Jesus and were baptized. That belief, represented by baptism, was put into practice by obedience to the teachings of Jesus. You can’t believe “in” the Lord if you are not being “obedient” to the teachings of the Lord. They became a part of the ekklēsia and came out of their church and/or pagan associations and became obedient to the teachings of Jesus. “Through Him we received grace and a commission as an apostle to bring about faithful obedience among all the gentiles for the sake of His name.” Romans 1:5. If you belong to Jesus, you will receive “a commission as an apostle to bring about faithful obedience” from those around you. If you sit in church, you do not belong to Jesus. You may bring people to church, but they are far from Jesus.

One night the Lord told Paul in a vision, “Stop being afraid to speak out! Don’t remain silent!  For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you or harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 

Yes indeed, Jesus had “many people in this city” and they were not sitting in church. They did not belong to the church. I pray for the day when we will “stop being afraid to speak out” and tell people the truth. It may cost you your family, your best friend and even your job, but so what? Jesus did not command us to “go make friends”, He commanded us to speak the truth. If we incur the enmity of family and friends, then walk alone. You cannot be a friend of Jesus and a friend of the world.

So Paul lived there for a year and a half and continued to teach the word of God among the people there. 

Again, over and over again, God is trying to get through to people, who read the Bible, that it isn’t church you are to be teaching. It isn’t church you are to be taking people to. It isn’t church you are to be promoting and belonging to. You are to “teach the Word of God among the people”. That’s it. And keep in mind, that “Word of God” was not the New Testament. The New Testament would not be written and compiled for another 300 years. The “Word of God” was the Old Testament. That is what the Christians read and obeyed for 300 years after Christ for their salvation. Sitting in church is only obscuring your vision. Get out and open your eyes and see the Light.

While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews gathered together, attacked Paul, and brought him before the judge’s seat.  They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the Law.” 

And again, the church tried to use the authority of the pagan civil government to destroy the truth. And these were those who claimed to be “God’s people” representing “His Church”. After all, they went to church on God’s holy Sabbath day. Wow, weren’t they “holy”. Sound familiar? Get out of your church, go home and open your Bible, starting in Genesis, and read the “Word of God” for your eternal life.

Paul was about to speak when Gallio admonished the Jews, “If there were some misdemeanor or crime involved, it would be reasonable to put up with you Jews.  But since it is a question about words, names, and your own Law, you will have to take care of that yourselves. I refuse to be a judge in these matters.”  So he drove them away from the judge’s seat. 

“Christians” sit in church so smugly thinking they are of God, but it was the pagan civil governor who was “righteous” and did what was right. The “Sabbath keepers” were totally under the direction and control of the devil. They had rejected God while sitting in church. What are you doing?

Then all of them took Sosthenes, the synagogue leader, and began beating him in front of the judge’s seat. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. 

There are no wickeder people than religious people. Under the name of “god” they will go to any wicked length to protect their wicked church system. The hate they have for those who follow Jesus is beyond belief. The laws of the land are now preventing them from expressing the fullness of that wickedness. But be assured, if they are not living as Jesus commands, perfect, sinless and commandment keeping, they are of the devil. All you have to do is tell them the truth about their church and you will see the hate. Watch how powerfully they defend their church. How Catholic.

After staying there for quite a while longer, Paul said goodbye to the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He had his hair cut in Cenchrea, since he was under a vow.  When they arrived in Ephesus, he left Priscilla and Aquila there. Then he went into the synagogue and had a discussion with the Jews. 

Paul never fully gave up on his fellow Jews. They had been brainwashed by the church, intimidated by the leaders of the church, pressured by the church and “convinced” by the church to reject Jesus and the truth. Church was their “god” and curses be on anyone who dared to say a word against their church. But Paul continued, as he was able, to preach the Word of God to those who made church more important that obedience to God.

They asked him to stay longer, but he refused.  As he told them goodbye, he said, “I will come back to you again if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.  When he arrived in Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem, greeted the church there, and then returned to Antioch. 

A few accepted the truth of God over the church. Very few will accept truth. Most accept some Bible facts, facts taken out of context, in order to justify their prideful church. But to accept the teachings of Jesus, not at all.

Paul was tired from his journey and he “went up to Jerusalem, greeted the ekklēsia there, and then returned to Antioch”. The journey was hard and he needed to be with friends and family who loved the teachings of Jesus. He needed to be where his soul could find peace, rest and contentment with those who lived in obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Soon, after his rest and renewal, he would again set out on his final journey, following in the footsteps of his Master, sharing the gospel and the Word of God Jesus taught.

I pray that we will follow in the Master’s steps. Let us renew our souls with the teachings of Jesus and live in perfect, sinless obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Continue to part 9