Simple Bible Reading Guide
Acts of the Apostles
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Acts 1 — THE UPPER ROOM
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth." 1:8
In an upper room, Jesus gave us His body and blood in Holy Communion at the Last Supper. In an upper room, Jesus baptized His disciples with the Holy Spirit. The upper room was a place of prayer. For nine days, "together they devoted themselves to constant prayer" (1:14).
The upper room was also a place of healing. Less than two months before Pentecost, Judas had betrayed Jesus and committed suicide. By choosing a replacement for Judas, the disciples faced the reality of Judas' suicide and their own sinfulness. In doing this, they were healed.
The Lord wants to pour out the Spirit on us in a new way. But we must first go to the upper room of prayer and healing.
Prayer: Father, may I repent and receive the Spirit. Lavish the Spirit on me (Ti 3:6; Gal 3:5) unrationed and overflowing (Jn 3:34).
Promise: "In the time after His suffering He showed them in many convincing ways that He was alive, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking to them about the reign of God." 1:3
Acts 2 — LIFE-STYLE IN THE SPIRIT
"All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamations as the Spirit prompted them." 2:4
On Pentecost the Church was born as Jesus' disciples received the Holy Spirit. The disciples spoke in foreign tongues and peoples from many different nations heard the disciples speaking their own language. Some thought the disciples were drunk. Then Peter started proclaiming Jesus crucified and risen. Soon they were "deeply shaken" and asked: " 'What are we do to, brothers?' Peter answered: 'You must reform and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' " (2:37-38). "Those who accepted his message were baptized; some three thousand were added that day" (2:41). With the new wine of the Spirit, the new-born church had to have a new wineskin, a new life-style (Lk 5:37). Therefore, "they devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (2:42).
Prayer: Father, renew my Confirmation. Give me a new Pentecost.
Promise: "Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." 2:47
Acts 3 — LAME FROM BIRTH
"Then Peter took him by the right hand and pulled him up. Immediately the beggar's feet and ankles became strong; he jumped up, stood for a moment, then began to walk around." 3:7-8
The first recorded miracle of the early Church was the healing of the man lame from birth. Paul also did this miracle (14:8ff). This healing is so important because we all are spiritually lame from birth. When we receive the new birth in Jesus, we can walk as Jesus' disciples and go to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:8) with the Gospel.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, may Your power flow through me and heal someone today. May this lead to many people giving their lives to Jesus.
Promise: "But God raised Him from the dead, and we are His witnesses." 3:15
Acts 4 — BOLD WITNESS
"Grant to Your servants, even as they speak Your words, complete assurance by stretching forth Your hand in cures and signs and wonders to be worked in the name of Jesus, Your holy Servant." 4:29-30
While Peter and John were preaching, they were arrested by the religious leaders. "Despite this, many of those who had heard the speech believed; the number of men came to about five thousand" (4:4). Peter and John just continued to preach in court. "Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up" (4:8). "This Jesus is 'the Stone rejected by you the builders Which has become the Cornerstone.' There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved" (4:11-12).
The religious leaders were amazed at Peter and John's self-assurance. They threatened the two apostles and let them go. The community gathered in prayer, and "the place where they were gathered shook as they prayed. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's word with confidence. The community of believers were of one heart and one ;mind. None them ever claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (4:31-33).
Prayer: Father, give me the boldness and communal life-style of the early church.
Promise: "Nor was there anyone needy among them, for all who owned property or houses sold them and donated the proceeds. They used to lay them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to everyone according to his need." 4:34-35
Acts 5 — NON-STOP
"If their purpose or activity is human in its origins, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them without fighting God Himself." 5:38-39
The life-style of the early believers was so powerful and their witness so bold that "great fear came on the whole church and on all who heard of it" (5:11). "Through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders occurred among the people" (5:12). "The people carried the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. Crowds from the towns around Jerusalem would gather, too, bringing their sick and those who were troubled with unclean spirits, all of whom were cured" (5:15-16).
The apostles were arrested for excessive public healing. During the night an angel opened the gates of the jail, and the apostles went to the Temple to "preach to the people all about this new life" (5:20). When court was convened, the guards were embarrassed because they couldn't find the prisoners. "Someone then came up to them, pointing out, 'Look, there! Those men you put in jail are standing over there in the temple, teaching the people' " (5:25). The apostles were brought to court, threatened, whipped and released. "The apostles for their part left the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah" (5:41-42).
Prayer: Father, may I rejoice in the measure that I share Christ's sufferings (1 Pt 4:13).
Promise: "Better for us to obey God than men!" 5:29
Acts 6 — "NO CHAINING THE WORD OF GOD" (1 Tm 2:9)
"The word of God continued to spread, while at the same time the number of disciples in Jerusalem enormously increased. There were many priests among those who embraced the faith."6:7
The religious leaders and the government couldn't stop the movement of the Spirit in the early church. Next, Satan tried to sabotage the work of the church through a problem in the daily distribution of food. The apostles had the wisdom to deal with the problem by appointing deacons. This permitted them "to concentrate on prayer and the ministry of the word" (6:4). Although the deacons were appointed so the apostles could stay full-time in the ministry of the word, the deacons (especially Stephen) also preached God's word at every opportunity.
Prayer: Father, may I be preoccupied with knowing and sharing Your word.
Promise: "Look around among your own number, brothers, for seven men acknowledged to be deeply spiritual and prudent, and we shall appoint them to this task." 6:3
Acts 7 — STEVIE WONDER
"Stephen meanwhile, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked to the sky above and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God's right hand." 7:55
Stephen was arrested for proclaiming the gospel, and according to the practice of the early church he used his trial as a forum for evangelizing. "Those who listened to his words were stung to the heart; they ground their teeth in anger at him" (7:54). "Then they rushed at him as one man, dragged him out of the city, and began to stone him" (7:57-58). "As Stephen was being stoned he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' He fell to his knees and cried in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' And with that he died" (7:59-60). This death and these prayers began the conversion of Saul, an accomplice in Stephen's martyrdom.
Prayer: Father, give me the grace to live and even die for the Gospel.
Promise: "I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand." 7:56
Acts 8 — "TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH" (Acts 1:8)
"Without exception, the crowds that heard Philip and saw the miracles he performed attended closely to what he had to say. There were many who had unclean spirits, which came out shrieking loudly. Many others were paralytics or cripples, and these were cured. The rejoicing in that town rose to fever pitch." 8:6-8
Next, we hear about the exploits of another deacon, Philip. He probably was not as gifted as Stephen, but he was used mightily to convert a whole Samaritan town. He even converted Simon the Magician. The Lord commanded His disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth (1:8). Philip started by evangelizing Samaria and began the mission to the ends of the earth when he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch.
Prayer: Father, may I take the gospel as far as You want me to.
Promise: "The pair upon arriving imposed hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." 8:17
Acts 9 — THE CONVERSION THAT SHOOK THE WORLD
"Saul for his part grew steadily more powerful, and reduced the Jewish community of Damascus to silence with his proofs that this Jesus was the Messiah." 9:22
After participating in Stephen's murder, "Saul began to harass the church. He entered house after house, dragged men and women out, and threw them into jail" (8:3). Saul then went to Damascus to arrest some more Christians. As he traveled along, "a light from the sky suddenly flashed about him. He fell to the ground and at the same time heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?' " (9:3-5) He was struck blind and was led by the hand into Damascus where he stayed for three days. Ananias was sent by the Lord to heal and baptize Saul. Saul, filled with the Spirit, "began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Any who heard it were greatly taken aback" (9:20-21). Saul's conversion is one of the major events in world history.
Prayer: Father, may I be used to catch a big fish like Saul for Your kingdom (Mt 4:19).
Promise: "The church was at peace. It was being built up and was making steady progress in the fear of the Lord; at the same time it enjoyed the increased consolation of the Holy Spirit." 9:31
Acts 10 — EVEN GENTILES I
" 'What can stop these people who have received the Holy Spirit, even as we have, from being baptized with water?' So he gave orders that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." 10:47-48
The last we heard of Simon Peter, he was healing people with his shadow. Next, he healed "a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years" (9:33). Then, he raised Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead (9:40). And what was even more astounding than that, Peter converted the Gentile household of Cornelius. "The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were surprised that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, whom they could hear speaking in tongues and glorifying God" (10:45-46). This was even more surprising and shocking than Saul's conversion or Dorcas' resurrection. Now the new life in the Spirit was not only for Jews but also for Gentiles.
Prayer: Father, thank You for letting me, a Gentile, be included in Your plan of salvation.
Promise: "To Him all the prophets testify, saying that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His name." 10:43
Acts 11 — EVEN GENTILES II
" 'If God was giving them the same gift He gave us when we first believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to interfere with Him?' When they heard this they stopped objecting, and instead began to glorify God in these words: 'If this be so, then God has granted life-giving repentance even to the Gentiles.' " 11:17-18
Unimaginable shock had hit the Christian community: Gentiles were included in God's plan of salvation! After Cornelius and his household received the Spirit, the Gentiles of Antioch believed in Jesus as Lord and were filled with the Spirit. The church of Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to see what could be done. "On his arrival he rejoiced to see the evidence of God's favor. He encouraged them all to remain firm in their commitment to the Lord, since he himself was a good man filled with the Holy Spirit and faith" (11:23-24). He brought in Saul to teach the new-born disciples. "For a whole year they met with the church and instructed great numbers. It was in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians for the first time" (11:26).
Prayer: Jesus, You have bridged all racial, social, economic, and denominational barriers. May I not oppose the Spirit of unity (Eph 4:3).
Promise: "The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number of them believed and were converted to the Lord." 11:21
Acts 12 — DIRTY HEROD
"Peter had recovered his senses by this time, and said, 'Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel to rescue me from Herod's clutches and from all that the Jews hoped for.' " 12:11
The Scriptures say: "King Herod started to harass some of the members of the church" (12:1). This is a great understatement for the next verse says: "He beheaded James the brother of John" (12:2). Herod's next victim was to be Peter, but the believers prayed Peter right out of jail a few hours before his execution. Instead of learning his lesson, Herod executed the guards on duty when Peter miraculously escaped. Herod continued his wicked ways and even accepted the accolade that his voice was "the voice of a god, not a man!" (12:22) "The angel of the Lord struck Herod down at once because he did not ascribe the honor to God, and he died eaten by worms" (12:23).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for giving us so many opportunities to repent. May we take this one before it's too late.
Promise: "Meanwhile the word of the Lord continued to spread and increase." 12:24
Acts 13 — FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
"The Holy Spirit spoke to them: 'Set apart Barnabas and Saul for Me to do the work for which I have called them.' " 13:2
On the first Christian missionary journey Paul's first convert was Sergius Paulus, the proconsular governor at Paphos on Cyprus. Paul had to contend with Elymas "the magician" whom he struck blind. "When the governor saw what had happened, he believed, so impressed was he by the teaching about the Lord" (13:12).
In Antioch of Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas also got an enthusiastic response. After preaching on the Sabbath, "almost the entire city gathered to hear the word of God" the following Sabbath (13:44). "When the Jews saw the crowds, they became very jealous and countered with violent abuse whatever Paul said" (13:45). Paul then turned to the Gentiles and many believed in Jesus. A persecution was started against Paul and Barnabas and they were finally expelled from the territory.
A pattern began to develop in the beginning of the first missionary journey. First, Paul and Barnabas encountered openness to the gospel, and then persecution. Nevertheless, many were converted, especially among the Gentiles. Preaching + persecution = evangelization.
Prayer: Lord, may I try to lead someone to You today.
Promise: "The disciple could not but be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit." 13:52
Acts 14 — LEFT FOR DEAD
"Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there and spoke out fearlessly, in complete reliance on the Lord. He for His part confirmed the message with His grace and caused signs and wonders to be done at their hands." 14:3
After being driven out of Antioch of Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas were driven out of Iconium. Vigilantes from Antioch and Iconium eventually caught up with Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. "They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him there for dead. His disciples quickly formed a circle about him, and before long he got up and went back into the town" (14:19-20). Then fearlessly Paul and Barnabas returned to the towns that had tried to kill them. "They gave their disciples reassurances, and encouraged them to persevere in the faith with this instruction: 'We must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God' " (14:22). When someone bruised, beaten, and bloody tells about undergoing many trials, you tend to listen, because the man knows what he's talking about.
Prayer: Jesus, may I tell people about You and never be intimidated.
Promise: "On their arrival, they called the congregation together and related all that God had helped them accomplish, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles." 14:27
Acts 15 — THE SUPREME COURT
"It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and ours too, not to lay on you any burden beyond that which is strictly necessary." 15:28
Most meetings which are focused on supercharged, highly emotional issues are characterized by manipulation, self-centeredness, and dissension. In Jerusalem the church leaders gathered to consider whether the Lord wanted Gentile Christians to be circumcised. The participants in this meeting were loving, prophetic, Spirit-filled and centered on the Lord. What could have been the first Protestant Reformation became a miracle of unity. The early church leaders were the same as people today. They were weak, sinful, and difficult to work with, but here the Spirit of unity took precedence over their individual personalities.
Prayer: Jesus, with You I pray that all may be one as You and the Father are one (Jn 17:21).
Promise: "The church saw them off and they made their way through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling everyone about the conversion of the Gentiles as they went. Their story caused great joy among the brothers." 15:3
Acts 16 — THE SECOND TIME AROUND
"About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as their fellow prisoners listened, a severe earthquake suddenly shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations. Immediately all the doors flew open and everyone's chains were pulled loose." 16:25-26
Paul and Barnabas separated because they disagreed on whether John Mark should be taken on the second missionary journey after deserting them on the first one. So Paul took Silas and later Timothy as traveling companions. They went to Philippi to proclaim the gospel for the first time to the Western world. Lydia became the first convert of the West. Her home became a community center and a base for evangelization. After delivering a girl from a clairvoyant spirit, Paul and Silas were attacked by a crowd, stripped, flogged, and put in maximum security prison.
They praised their way out of prison, converted the jailer and his family, and were eventually escorted out of prison by government officials. If you thought the first missionary journey was difficult, what would the second mission entail, especially after such a beginning!
Prayer: Jesus, may evangelization and praise be my life.
Promise: "After a brief interval he led them out and said, 'Men, what must I do to be saved?' Their answer was, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and all your household.' " 16:30-31
Acts 17 — FLIP FLOP
"Then Paul stood up in the Areopagus and delivered this address: 'Men of Athens, I note that in every respect you are scrupulously religious.' " 17:22
After their success in Philippi, Paul and Silas were on a roll. Amid violent persecution, they led many to the Lord in Thessalonica and Beroea. Because of the persecution, Paul was sent to Athens by himself and was temporarily separated from Silas and Timothy. "While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he grew exasperated at the sight of idols everywhere in the city" (17:16). Paul began to preach, possibly not from the Lord's call but out of exasperation. He talked about the Athenian shrines and even quoted from a Greek poet. After he mentioned Jesus' resurrection and before he got around to proclaiming Jesus crucified, he was interrupted. Although a few became believers, the whole experience was a flop. He didn't even get persecuted. After this, Paul left Athens for Corinth and went back into the tent-making business.
Prayer: Father, may I speak of nothing but Jesus crucified (1 Cor 2:2).
Promise: "Its members were better disposed than those in Thessalonica, and welcomed the message with great enthusiasm. Each day they studied the Scriptures to see whether these things were so. Many of them came to believe." 17:11-12
Acts 18 — STRESS MANAGEMENT
"Paul stayed on in Corinth for quite a while; but eventually he took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, in the company of Priscilla and Aquila. At the port of Cenchreae he shaved his head because of a vow he had taken. 18:18
Corinth may be the city of New Testament times closest to modern Western society. It was prone to divisiveness and violence. It was full of sexual immorality and crazy about sports. There was great pressure on Paul to leave this "God-forsaken" place. "One night in a vision the Lord said to Paul: 'Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silenced, for I am with you. No one will attack you or harm you. There are many of My people in this city.' Paul ended by settling there for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God" (18:9-11). With the help of Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos, the ministry of Corinth bore great fruit and many were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father, may I do the job You've given me and not give in to pressure.
Promise: "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained to him God's new way in greater detail." 18:26
Acts 19 — THE OCCULT
"They started to chant in unison, 'Long live Artemis of Ephesus!' and kept shouting for about two hours." 19:34
The Ephesians didn't have all the problems of the Corinthians, but they were involved in something worse: the occult. Paul began by taking twelve men who didn't even know Jesus and baptizing them "in the name of the Lord Jesus. As Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down on them and they began to speak in tongues and to utter prophecies" (19:5-6). Within two years, "all the inhabitants of the province of Asia, Jews and Greeks alike, heard the word of the Lord" (19:10). This was well over a million people. "Meanwhile God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them (19:11-12).
Nevertheless, many believers were involved in the occult. After an evil spirit stripped and beat up some itinerant non-Christian exorcists, "many who had become believers came forward and openly confessed their former practices. A number who had been dealing in magic even collected their books and burned them in public. When the value of these was assessed, it came to fifty thousand silver pieces" (19:18-19).
Prayer: In the name of Jesus, I renounce all, even the most subtle, connections I have had with the occult. Thank You Jesus for freeing me.
Promise: "Thus did the word of the Lord continue to spread with influence and power." 19:20
Acts 20 — INTENSITY
"Afterward Paul went upstairs again, broke bread, and ate. Then he talked for a long while until his departure at dawn. 20:11
Paul started Mass (the breaking of the bread) around 6 or 7 p.m. and ended 6 or 7 a.m. the next day. After hearing a few hours of preaching, a boy Eutychus fell asleep, fell out the third story window, and died. But even that didn't shorten the Mass. After Paul told them there was "life in him" (20:10), he "went upstairs again" (10:11), and they continued on until dawn.
Paul had a meeting with the Ephesian leaders at Miletus. He knew it was the last time they would ever see him. He warned them of wolves in sheep's clothing who would distort the truth and lead many astray. He had been warning them for three years, "even to the point of tears" (20:31). "After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them all and prayed. They began to weep without restraint, throwing their arms around him and kissing him" (20:36-37).
Prayer: Father, may I not be lukewarm but hot (Rv 3:16).
Promise: "You need to recall the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, Who said, 'There is more happiness in giving than receiving.' " 20:35
Acts 21 — RIOTOUS
"When Paul reached the steps, he actually had to be carried up by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. A crowd of people was following along shouting, 'Kill him! Kill him!' " 21:35-36
The Acts of the Apostles recounts riots in chapters 7, 14, 16, 17, 18 and 19. Who says the Christian life is dull? The riot in chapter 21 was a humdinger. "Before long the whole city was in turmoil. People came running from all sides. They seized Paul, dragged him outside the temple, and immediately closed its gates. Attempts were being made on his life when a report reached the commander of the cohort that all Jerusalem was rioting" (21:30-31).
Prayer: Father, may my life in Christ be powerful and free enough to elicit strong positive and negative reactions.
Promise: "For the name of the Lord Jesus I am prepared, not only for imprisonment, but for death." 21:13
Acts 22 — SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE BEAR
"At these words, those who were about to interrogate him backed away. The commander became alarmed because he realized that in restraining Paul he had restrained a citizen of Rome." 22:29
Jesus told us to be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt 10:16). Paul was clever enough to talk to the Romans in Greek (21:37) and the Jews in Hebrew. To the Jews he stressed: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia" (22:3). To the Romans, he questioned: "Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen without a trial?" (22:25) Paul was "all things to all men" in more ways than one (1 Cor 9:22).
Prayer: Father, I renounce worldly wisdom and ask for wisdom from above.
Promise: "In that instant I regained my sight." 22:13
Acts 23 — SMARTER THAN THE ABOVE-AVERAGE BEAR
"We have bound ourselves by oath to touch no food until we kill Paul." 23:14
Paul continued to play it smart. He got his accusers, the Pharisees and Sadducees, to fight with each other. Paul's nephew heard about a plot to kill Paul. Paul sent the boy to the Roman commander, who transferred Paul to another prison. No one could touch Paul until it was God's time.
Prayer: Lord, lead me through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4).
Promise: "That night the Lord appeared at Paul's side and said: 'Keep up your courage! Just as you have given testimony to Me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome.' " 23:11
Acts 24 — FELIX THE CAT
"Felix was rather well informed about the new way, and when he heard these words he adjourned the trial, saying merely, 'I will decide the case when Lysias the commander arrives.' " 24:22
Paul stood trial before Felix the governor. Felix adjourned the trial and promised to decide the case in the near future. But he "wanted to ingratiate himself with the Jews, so he left Paul in prison" (24:27). "He hoped he would be offered a bribe by Paul, so he used to send for him frequently to converse with him" (24:26). Paul spoke to Felix about faith in Jesus Christ. "As Paul talked on about uprightness, continence, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened" (24:25) because he was living in adultery. After two years, Felix was transferred. The last we hear of Felix, he missed his chance for eternal life and stood condemned.
Prayer: Lord, I give my life to You now while there's still time.
Promise: "I am on trial before you today because of the resurrection of the dead." 24:21
Acts 26 — YOUR DAY IN COURT
"The king here is well acquainted with these matters. Before him I can speak freely. I am convinced that none of this escapes him after all, it did not take place in a dark corner! Do you believe the prophets, King Agrippa? I am sure you do." 26:26-27
The early Church often used courtrooms as forums for evangelization. Paul tried to convert King Agrippa during a court hearing. "At this, Agrippa said, 'A little more, Paul, and you will make a Christian out of me!' Paul replied, 'Whether little more or much more, I would to God that not only you but all who listen to me today might become what I am without these chains!' " (26:28-29) As far as we know King Agrippa, Bernice, and Festus did not accept the gospel of Jesus. They stood condemned more than anyone they had ever tried in court.
Prayer: Father, may I never be intimidated but proclaim Jesus anywhere.
Promise: "I am sending you, to turn them from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God; that through their faith in Me they may obtain forgiveness of their sins and a portion among God's people."26:17-18
Acts 27 — THE DIFFERENCE ONE CHRISTIAN MAKES
"Last night a messenger of the God Whose man I am and Whom I serve, stood by me. 'Do not be afraid, Paul,' he said. 'You are destined to appear before the emperor. Therefore,as a favor to you, God has granted safety to all who are sailing with you.' " 27:23-24
Paul sailed for Rome. He prophesied disaster for the voyage. Being a prisoner, Paul's prophecy was ignored (27:11). When his prophecy was fulfilled, Paul did not hesitate to say: "I told you so." He "stood up among them and said: 'Men, you should have taken my advice and not set sail from Crete. Then you would not have incurred this disastrous loss" (27:21). Then Paul asserted that all 276 people on board would be granted safety by God for a favor to Paul (see 27:24). Paul started the voyage as a "nobody" but was greatly respected in a few weeks (see 27:31-32, 43). Christians, like Paul, are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5:13-14).
Prayer: Lord of the storm, calm this world and my heart.
Promise: "So keep up your courage, men. I trust in God that it will all work out just as I have been told, though we still have to face shipwreck on some island." 27:25-26
Acts 28 — THE END OF THE BEGINNING
"From morning to evening he laid the case before them, bearing witness to the reign of God among men. He sought to convince them about Jesus by appealing to the law of Moses and the prophets. Some, indeed, were convinced by what he said; others would not believe." 28:23-24
Before Jesus ascended, He told His disciples that signs would accompany those who profess their faith (Mk 16:17-18). Two of these signs were the ability to handle serpents and cure the sick. After Paul escaped shipwreck, he was bitten by a poisonous snake. "Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects from the bite. They expected to see him swell up or suddenly fall dead" (28:5-6). When Paul didn't die, the people thought he was a god. Next, Paul healed the father of Malta's chief leader by the laying on of hands. "After this happened, the rest of the sick on the island began to come to Paul and they too were healed" (28:9).
Paul took Malta and Rome "by storm". "With full assurance, and without any hindrance whatever, he preached the reign of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (28:31). Alleluia!
Prayer: Father, may I die with the name of Jesus on my lips. May I lead someone to Him on my final days on earth.
Promise: "Certain brothers from Rome who heard about us came out as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took fresh courage." 28:15
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, October 10, 1995
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 16, 1995
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