Harmony of the Gospel (Conservative Version) longer form Chapters 36-42
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|Chapter 36||Bible texts|
In these days, Peter stood up in the middle of the disciples (and the number of names was about one hundred twenty), and said, “Brothers, it was necessary that this Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to those who took Jesus. For he was counted with us, and received his portion in this ministry. Now this man obtained a field with the reward for his wickedness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out. It became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem that in their language that field was called ‘Akeldama,’ that is, ‘The field of blood.’ For it is written in the book of Psalms,
“Of the men therefore who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, to the day that he was received up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
They put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. They prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two you have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.”
They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.
Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all with one accord in one place. Suddenly there came from the heaven a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the heaven. When this sound was heard, the multitude came together and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language. They were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Behold, are not all these who speak Galileans? How do we hear, everyone in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages the mighty works of God!”
They were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
Others, mocking, said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke out to them, “You men of Judea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words. For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel:
“Men of Israel, hear these words! Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by God to you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him among you, even as you yourselves know, him, being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed; whom God raised up, having freed him from the agony of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it. For David says concerning him,
“Brothers, I may tell you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ, the Anointed One, to sit on his throne, he foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, the Anointed One, that his soul was not left in Hades, and his flesh did not see decay. This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself,
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Anointed One, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Anointed, for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”
With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls. They continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ Teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer, and were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the Apostles. All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the Assembly day by day those who were being saved.
Peter and John were going up into the Temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour, 3 P.M.. A certain man who was lame from his mother’s womb was being carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms, gifts for the needy, of those who entered into the Temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple, he asked to receive alms, gifts for the needy. Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John, said, “Look at us.”
He listened to them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus the Anointed One of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
He took him by the right hand and raised him up. Immediately his feet and his ankle bones received strength. Leaping up, he stood and began to walk. He entered with them into the Temple, walking, leaping, and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God. They recognized him, that it was he who used to sit begging for alms, gifts for the needy at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
As the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering. When Peter saw it, he responded to the people, “You men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? Why do you fasten your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, to which we are witnesses. By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
“Now, brothers, I know that you did this in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that the Anointed One should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Anointed Jesus, who was ordained for you before, whom heaven must receive up unto the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets. For Moses indeed said to the fathers,
“Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham,
"God, having raised up his Servant Jesus, sent him to you first to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your wickedness.”
As they spoke to the people, the priests and the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees came to them, being annoyed because they Taught the people and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. They laid hands on them, and put them in custody to the next day, for it was now evening. But many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
In the morning, their rulers, elders, and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and as many as were relatives of the high priest. When they had stood Peter and John in the middle of them, they inquired, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “You rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we are examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, may it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus the Anointed One of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands here before you whole. He is
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven that is given among men, by which we must be saved!”
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled. They recognized that they had been with Jesus. Seeing the man who was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? Because indeed a notable miracle has been done through them, as can be plainly seen by all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that this spreads no further among the people, let us threaten them, that from now on they do not speak to anyone in this name.”
They called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor Teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves, for we cannot help telling the things which we saw and heard.”
When they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for everyone glorified God for that which was done. For the man on whom this miracle of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
Being let go, they came to their own company and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, “O Lord, you are God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who by the mouth of your servant, David, said,
“For truly, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together against your Holy Servant, Jesus, whom you Anointed, to do whatever your hand and your council foreordained to happen. Now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your Holy Servant Jesus.”
When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. With great power, the Apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Great grace was on them all. For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the Apostles’ feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need. Joses, who by the Apostles was also called Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of Encouragement), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race, having a field, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being aware of it, then brought a certain part and laid it at the Apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land? While you kept it, did it not remain your own? After it was sold, was it not in your power? How is it that you have conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.”
Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and died. Great fear came on all who heard these things. The young men arose and wrapped him up, and they carried him out and buried him. About three hours later, his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
But Peter asked her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
She fell down immediately at his feet and died. The young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. Great fear came on the whole Assembly, and on all who heard these things.
By the hands of the Apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. They were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. None of the rest dared to join them; however the people honored them. More believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some of them. The multitude also came together from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits: and they were all healed.
But the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy and laid hands on the Apostles, then put them in public custody. But an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night, and brought them out and said, “Go stand and speak in the Temple to the people all the words of this Life.”
When they heard this, they entered into the Temple about daybreak and Taught. But the high priest came, and those who were with him, and called the council together, and all the Senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But the officers who came did not find them in the prison. They returned and reported, “We found the prison shut and locked, and the guards standing before the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!”
Now when the high priest, the captain of the Temple, and the chief priests heard these words, they were very perplexed about them and what might become of this. One came and told them, “Behold, the men whom you put in prison are in the Temple, standing and Teaching the people.”
Then the captain went with the officers, and brought them without violence, for they were afraid that the people might stone them. When they had brought them, they set them before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to Teach in this name? Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your Teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.”
But Peter and the Apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree. God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. We are his witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart, and were determined to kill them. But one stood up in the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a Teacher of the law, honored by all the people, and commanded to put the Apostles out for a little while. He said to them, “You men of Israel, be careful concerning these men, what you are about to do. For before these days Theudas rose up, making himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves. He was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the enrollment, and drew away some people after him. He also perished, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad. Now I tell you, stay away from these men, and leave them alone. For if this counsel or this work is of men, it will be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it, and you would be found even to be fighting against God!”
They agreed with him. Summoning the Apostles, they beat them and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus’s name. Every day, in the Temple and at home, they never stopped Teaching and preaching Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One of God.
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service. The Twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables. Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word.”
These words pleased the whole multitude. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch; whom they set before the Apostles. When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. The word of God increased and the number of the disciples greatly multiplied in Jerusalem. A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Stephen, full of faith and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. But some of those who were of the synagogue called “The Libertines”, and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and Asia arose, disputing with Stephen. They were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and came against him and seized him, then brought him in to the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”
All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face like it was the face of an angel. The high priest said, “Are these things so?”
He said, “Brothers and Fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him,
"Then he came out of the land of the Chaldaeans and lived in Haran. From there, when his father was dead, God moved him into this land, where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on. He promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his offspring after him, when he still had no child. God spoke in this way: that his offspring would live as aliens in a strange land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years.
"He gave him the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
“The patriarchs, moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him into Egypt. God was with him, and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now a famine came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction. Our fathers found no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers the first time. On the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s race was revealed to Pharaoh. Joseph sent and summoned Jacob, his father, and all his relatives, seventy-five souls. Jacob went down into Egypt and he died, himself and our fathers, and they were brought back to Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver from the children of Hamor of Shechem.
“But as the time of the promise came close which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, to the day there arose a different king, who did not know Joseph. The same took advantage of our race, and mistreated our fathers, and forced them to throw out their babies, so that they would not stay alive. At that time Moses was born, and was exceedingly handsome. He was nourished three months in his father’s house. When he was thrown out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up and reared him as her own son. Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He was mighty in his words and works. But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. Seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him who was oppressed, striking the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers understood that God, by his hand, was giving them deliverance; but they did not understand.
“The day following, he appeared to them as they fought, and urged them to be at peace again, saying,
"But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying,
"Moses fled at this saying, and became a stranger in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
“When forty years were fulfilled, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight. As he came close to see, a voice of the Lord came to him,
"Moses trembled, and dared not look. The Lord said to him,
“This Moses, whom they refused, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—God has sent him as both a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, having worked wonders and signs in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel,
"This is he who was in the Assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living revelations to give to us, to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but rejected him, and turned back in their hearts to Egypt, saying to Aaron,
"They made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands. But God turned, and gave them up to serve the army of the sky, as it is written in the book of the prophets,
“Our fathers had the Tabernacle of the Testimony in the wilderness, even as he who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern that he had seen; which also our fathers, in their turn, brought in with Joshua when they entered into the possession of the nations, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, to the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says,
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so you do. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers. You received the law as it was ordained by angels, and did not keep it!”
Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears, then rushed at him with one accord. They threw him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”
When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Saul was consenting to his death.
A great persecution arose against the Assembly which was in Jerusalem in that day. They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and lamented greatly over him.
But Saul ravaged the Assembly, entering into every house and dragged both men and women off to prison. Therefore, those who were scattered abroad went around preaching the word. They went out, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.
Suetonius: Twelve Caesars: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by C. Suetonius Tranquilus; To which are added His Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets. The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D., Revised and corrected by T. Forester, Esq., A.M. (Gutenberg.org)
"In these days, Peter stood up ... and said, “Brothers... "
"Now this man obtained a field with the reward for his wickedness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out..."
" 'Of the men therefore who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, to the day that he was received up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection.' ... They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles."
" we hear them speaking in our languages the mighty works of God!"
"They are filled with new wine... these are not drunken, as you suppose"
"I will show wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath: blood, and fire, and billows of smoke."
"I saw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover my flesh also will dwell in hope".
"raise up the Christ, the Anointed One"
"they were cut to the heart"
"The Lord added to the Assembly day by day those who were being saved."
"...the hour of prayer, the ninth hour."
"...Annas the high priest was there, with Caiaphas, John, Alexander..."
"Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves"
"The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take council together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed."
"to do whatever your hand and your council foreordained to happen."
"while you stretch out your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done...By the hands of the Apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people."
"Theudas rose up...After him Judas the Galilean"
"stay away from these men, and leave them alone."
"He said, “Brothers and Fathers, listen."
"Joseph sent and summoned Jacob, his father, and all his relatives, seventy-five souls."
"But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ "
"the star of your god Rephan"
The stoning of Stephen
Compare the Conservative Bible text (conservapedia.com):
In those days, Peter stood amongst the disciples, and said to them (about one hundred twenty in all), "My brothers, the scripture needed to be fulfilled, which David prophesied by the Divine Guide, that Judas should should guide those who arrested Jesus. For he was one of us, and a part of our ministry. He purchased a field with the payment he received for his betrayal, and fell, bursting apart with his organs gushing out. All those who lived in Jerusalem knew these things, which is why that field is now called Aceldama, which in their language means 'the field of blood.' It is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man live there', and 'his holy office be taken by another'. Therefore, out of these men, who have stood with us as long as the Lord Jesus came among us, from His baptism by John, to the day he was taken up from us, we must choose one to be ordained as one of us, witnesses of his resurrection."
Two were nominated, Joseph called Barabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, saying, "Lord, who knows the hearts of all men, show us which of these two you have chosen, so he may take his place in this ministry and his apostleship, which, due to his sins, Judas has left and gone to Hell."
And they drew lots, and the lot favored Matthias, and so he came to be counted with the other eleven apostles.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place when suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a great wind, and it filled the whole house they were in. There appeared to them tongues of fire which separated and came upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Divine Guide, and began to speak other languages, as the Guide gave them the ability.
At this time, there were Jews in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, devout men all. When these things were heard about town, the crowds came together, and were amazed, because every man heard the apostles speak in his own language. And they marvelled, saying to one another, "Are not all these men who speak to us Galileans? Then how come each of us hear each of these men in our own language from our birthplace? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, those from Pontus and Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the area around Cyrene in Libya, and Rome, Jews and gentiles, Cretans and Arabians, we all hear them speak in our own languages the wonderful works of God."
They all were amazed, and doubted their ears, saying to each other, "What could this mean?" Others mocked the apostles, saying, "These men are drunk!"
(Note: Conservative Bible translation avoids the actual words of the Bible text, "full of new wine", because of the teaching that new wine in the Bible is always non-alcoholic grape juice; but no one ever got drunk on grape juice.)
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and said to the men, "Men of Judea, and all who are here in Jerusalem, hear me: For these men with me are not drunk as you might think, as it is only the third hour of the day. This is instead the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, 'It shall happen that in the last days,' said God, 'I will pour out my spirit upon all men, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men dream dreams. And on my servants and handmaidens I will pour my spirit, and they shall prophesy, and I will show wonders in heaven and signs on Earth, blood, fire, and smoke, the sun shall go dark and the moon turned to blood before the great day of the Lord comes, and whoever calls on the Lord shall be saved.'
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man who proved He was God with miracles and wonders and signs, which God did through Him while He was among you, as you know. Jesus, gifted to us with God's recommendation and prior knowledge, was taken by you, and crucified and murdered with the help of others; yet God raised Him up, casting off the pain of death, because it was impossible for death's grip to hold Jesus. David spoke about Him, 'I foresee the Lord at my side, on my right hand, that I shall not be dethroned, so my soul rejoiced and my voice filled with gladness, and my body can rest with hope. Because you won't leave my soul in hell, and you won't allow your Holy One to be corrupted. You have taught me the ways of Life and you will me joyful with your approval.'
"Men and brothers, I wish to speak freely to you about the Patriarch David. He is dead and buried and his tomb remains to this day. Being a prophet, he knew that God had promised him that as one of his own descendants, he would raise Christ to sit on his throne. When he saw this he talked about Christ's resurrection. His soul wasn't left in hell and his body didn't decay. God has raised Jesus up to heaven. We are all eyewitnesses of this.
"So, sitting exalted at God's right hand, and having received the promise of the Divine Guide from the Father, He has revealed this which you are seeing and hearing. Because David hasn't ascended into the heavens. Instead, he said, 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make you a footstool out of your enemies.' So let all of Israel be certain that God has made Jesus himself, the man you crucified, Lord and Christ."
When the people heard this, their souls were touched, and they asked Peter and the apostles, "what should we do?"
Then Peter told them, "Every one of you should repent and get baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you'll receive the gift of the Divine Guide. Because the Promise is for you and your children, and your distant descendants, as many as our Lord God should call to him."
He continued to testify and compel them with a great variety of speech, "Save yourselves from this cursed generation."
The people who happily accepted his message were baptized. Three thousand souls were saved that very day. They steadfastly followed the apostles' doctrines and committed themselves to the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.
and were continuously in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
They were all struck with fear, as the apostles performed incredible achievements and showed signs. Everyone who believed was together and shared values, faith, and the truth. They sold their possessions and gave them to others, as every man must, and continuing to practice their faith in the temple, breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with contentedness and a shared heart. They praised God, and were favored by all the people. And everyday the Lord added people who were saved to the church.
At 3 PM, the hour of prayer, Peter and John went into the temple together and a man who had been crippled since birth was carried to the "Beautiful" gate of the temple to ask change of those entering, as he was daily. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for change. Peter stared at the man with John, and said, "Look at us."
The man looked, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but I shall give you what I have: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And the man leaped up, and walked with them into the temple, jumping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they knew that it was the beggar who sat at the "Beautiful" gate of the temple, and they were amazed at what had happened to him.
While the newly healed man looked at Peter and John, the other people congregated on Solomon's porch, amazed. Peter saw this, and asked them, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Why do you look at us so intently, as if it was by our own power that we made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and our fathers has given his son, Jesus Christ, great glory, the very man you turned over to Pilate, and denied mercy for when he was to be released. You denied the Holy and Just One, wanting to free a murderer. You killed the Prince of Life, who we have seen resurrected by God. Faith in the name of Jesus has healed this man, who is known to you. His sturdy faith has given him his stability in your presence.
"Brothers, I know you and your rulers have acted in ignorance. But all of the things which God told us about through the mouths of His prophets, especially that Christ would suffer, He has fulfilled. So repent and convert to the truth, so your sins may be obliterated when the Lord's presence brings a time of great refreshing. And He will send Jesus Christ, who they were talking about when they preached: 'he must stay in heaven until the times for setting everything right,' which God said through the mouth of every one of His holy prophets since the beginning of the world.
"Moses told the fathers, 'the Lord your God will bring you a prophet from your brothers, much like me. Listen to whatever he will tell you.' And it is certain that every person who closes his ears to that prophet will be destroyed. Yes, and all the prophets who have spoken since Samuel have foretold the same thing of this era. You are the prophets' children, part of the covenant God made with our fathers when He said to Abraham, 'all of the people descended from your seed will bless the earth.'
"Raising His son Jesus, God sent him to you in order to bless you, by turning all of you away from your sinful lifestyles."
While they were talking to the people, the priests, the skeptics, and the temple captain came to them. They were upset that they were teaching the people and preaching Jesus' doctrine that the dead would be resurrected. It was evening, and they seized them and imprisoned them until the following day. Nonetheless, many of the listeners opened their minds and believed, about five thousand men.
So the following day, the rulers, elders, writers, Annas, high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and many of the high priest's family gathered in Jerusalem. Bringing them out where all could see, they asked, "By whose authority, and in whose name have you been acting?"
Peter, filled with the Divine Guide, replied, "Rulers of the people, elders of Israel, if we're being scrutinized today for the charity we've done to this crippled man, newly made well, you should all understand, and so should all the Israelites, that it is through the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified but God resurrected. Through him, this man stands healed. He is the stone which was valued as worthless by you builders, but has become the cornerstone. Salvation cannot be had through anyone else. There is no other name under heaven known to men with which we can be saved."
When the people saw the fortitude of Peter and John, and realized they were unschooled, untrained men, the elitists were staggered. They learned that they had been with Jesus. And as they saw the evidence of the cured man standing with them, they couldn't say anything to discredit it. But when he ordered them to leave the council, they discussed this among themselves, saying, "What should we do with these men? The great miracle they performed can be seen by everyone in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But we don't want this news to spread, so let's threaten them, so they won't speak to anyone else in the name of Jesus."
And they called them, and ordered them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered them, "Ask yourselves - is it right to listen to you instead of to God? We must talk about the things which we have seen and heard."
After further threatening Jesus' apostles, they let them go, because they couldn't find a way to punish them since the people of the city glorified God and were thankful for the miracle that was done. The man on whom the miracle was performed was older than forty. Once they were released, they returned among friends and explained what the chief priests and the elders had said.
After they heard it, they praised God with unanimity, "Lord, you are God. You have made heaven, earth, the oceans, and everything in them. You said through the mouth of your servant David, 'Why does the heathen rage and the people imagine petty things? The governments rose up together against the Lord God and against Christ.'
"It's true, Herod and Pontius Pilate and the gentiles and the Israelis got together and plotted against your holy, anointed son Jesus, to do what you had already determined would happen. Lord, look how they threaten! Please bless your servants with such courage that they will spread your truth. Stretch out your hand to heal men, and have awesome signs and wonders performed in Jesus' holy name."
After they had prayed, the place where they had congregated shook and they were filled up with the Divine Guide, so they went out and spoke God's truth with courage.
The crowd which believed had the same heart and mind. None of them claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they held them together. The apostles testified to the resurrection of Lord Jesus with great fortitude, and all of them were blessed by grace. Nor was anyone impoverished, for those who owned property and houses sold them, and were generous with the money they made, presenting them to the apostles so they might be distributed among those who were needy. The Levite Joses, called Barnabas by the apostles (meaning "the son of consolation"), who was from Cyprus, owned land, so he sold it and brought the money he made to lay it before them.
Then a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold something they owned, but they deceitfully kept some of the profit, while bringing the rest and giving it to the apostles. Peter demanded, "Ananias, why has Satan persuaded you to lie to the Divine Guide and keep some of the money for yourself? When you still possessed it, wasn't it yours? After you sold it, weren't you in charge of it? Why have you conspired to do this? You haven't lied to we men, but to God."
When Ananias heard this, he fell down, dead, and everyone watching was overcome by fear. The young men got up, wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, though she didn't know what had happened. Peter asked her, "Did you sell the land for this price?"
To which she replied, "Yes, for that price."
Peter then said, "Why have you agreed to tempt the Lord's Spirit? See them? They have buried your husband and will carry you out as well."
She too fell down at his feet, dead. The young entered to find her dead, and went to bury her with her husband. The people who saw this at the church, and those who heard about it were amazed and frightened.
The people saw the apostles perform many great wonders, all gathered at a place known as "Solomon's Porch." But no one else dared to join them, even though they were greatly honored. However, countless men and women came to believe in the Lord. They even brought the sick people into the streets on beds and couches so that they might at least see the shadow of Peter as he passed. Countless people also came from the cities near Jerusalem with their sick families and people suffering from dirty minds, and they were all healed of their affliction.
The high priest and those with him, his fellow skeptics, were furious at this, so they seized the apostles and threw them in jail. But the Lord's angel freed them during the night, and told them, "Go stand in the temple, and tell the people the true message of life!"
They went into the temple the next morning to teach. The high priest came with his fellows to call a council of Israel's senate. They called for the apostles to be brought from prison. The officers found that they had escaped, and told the council of this: "The prison was locked tight when we found it, and the jailers were on duty, but no one was inside the cell."
The high priest, captain of the temple, and the chief priests were troubled by this, not knowing what it entailed. Then a man stepped forward and said, "The men you imprisoned are in the temple right now, teaching the people."
The temple captain and his officers went to the temple and brought them back without being violent, since they feared the people might stone them. They brought them before the council, and the high priest said, "Didn't we command you not to teach in Jesus' name? Look, you're filling Jerusalem with your doctrines and want to blame us for this man's death."
But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God, not men. The God of our fathers reared Jesus, who you crucified and killed. God has honored him with a place at his right hand, and has made him Prince and Savior, forgiving Israel its sins, if it repents. We saw these things, as did the Divine Guide, which God give people who obey him."
The priests were appalled by this, and conspired to murder the apostles.
Gamaliel the Pharisee, knowledgeable in the law and well respected, stood and commanded that the apostles be put outside. He said "Men of Israel, be careful in deciding what to do with these men. Remember when Theudas, who boasted about his importance, rose up. Four hundred men joined him, and all were slain and scattered. It came to nothing. Then Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of taxation, and drew a mob after him. He too died, and they were all dispersed. So I advise you, leave these men alone and do not kill them. If their plot is man-made, it will come to nothing. If it's from God, however, you cannot stop it. Worse it will be if you fight against God."
They agreed with him, and after calling the apostles in and beating them, commanded them not to speak the name of Jesus, and set them free. So the apostles left the council, rejoicing that they were worthy enough to suffer for Jesus' name. And each day in the temple and every house they came to, they continued to teach and preach the name of Jesus Christ.
Back then, while the number of disciples grew at an incredible rate, some Grecians muttered about the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected by their activities. So the twelve called the throngs of disciples in and said, "it is not reasonable to abandon God's word and serve tables. So, brothers, find among yourselves seven men who are known to be honest, full of the Divine Guide and his wisdom, who we can put in charge of this. But we will continue to pray assiduously and do the ministry of the Lord's word."
This speech was well received by all, and they chose Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (an evangelist from Antioch), who were full of faith and the Divine Guide. They brought them to the apostles, and after praying, put their hands on them. The word of God spread, and the number of disciples grew exponentially in Jerusalem, with a multitude of priests obedient and faithful.
Stephen, who was full of God's faith and power, performed great wonders and signs for the people. Some people from the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicia and Asia, began arguing with Stephen. But they could not reproach the wisdom and the spirit of his words. So they paid men deceitfully claim, "We've heard him speak blasphemies against God and Moses."
They roused the mob, the elders, and the intellectuals, who seized him and brought him to the council. They brought perjurers, who claimed "He won't stop speaking blasphemies against this holy place and the law itself. We've heard him say that Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this temple and change the very laws brought by Moses."
But those who were in the council, staring into his face, saw it was like the face of an angel.
The high priest asked, "Is this true?"
He replied, "Men, brothers, fathers, listen! Glorious God appeared to our father, Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he went to Charran, and said to him, 'Get out of your country, and away from your people, and go to the land which I'll show you.'
"So he left the land of the Chaldeans and stayed in Charran. Since then, when his father had died, he came to this land, where we now live.
"But God didn't let him inherit it, not even to set foot on. Instead, he promised it would be his to possess, and his children's after him, though he had none. God told him that his descendants would travel in a strange land and be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 'I will the judge the nation which enslaves them,' said God. After they escape they will serve me here.'
"He gave them the circumcision law. So Abraham had a son, Isaac, and circumcised him when he was eight days old, and Isaac had a son, Jacob, from who descended the twelve patriarchs. But the jealous patriarchs sold Joseph as a slave in Egypt, but God stayed with him. God brought him safe from all of his trials, and blessed him with wisdom, which was seen by the Pharaoh of Egypt, who made Joseph governor of Egypt and his household.
"A famine swept over Egypt and Chanaan, and our forefathers were starved for lack of food. Jacob heard that there was a surplus of corn in Egypt, so he sent our fathers there.
"Then Joseph was revealed to his brothers again, and his family introduced to the Pharaoh. Then Joseph had his father brought to him with his extended family, seventy five people. So Jacob traveled to Egypt, and lived there, with our forefathers, until he died. He was carried to Sychem and laid in the tomb Abraham had purchased from Emmor's sons at a price.
"Once the time to make good God's promise to Abraham arrived, the population multiplied in Egypt, until another leader came to power, who didn't know Joseph. He deceived our people and convinced our fathers to do evil, so that they expelled their young children, submitting them to death. During this time, Moses was born and was very virtuous. His father raised him for 3 months.
"When he was expelled, the Pharaoh's daughter took him in, and raised him as her own son. Moses became wise in Egyptian knowledge, with great power of speech and action.
"When he was forty years old, he had a great desire to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel. Seeing one of them wrongly assaulted, he defended him, and killed the Egyptian who assaulted him. He thought his brothers would have realized by now that God was using him to save them, but they didn't, so the next day he came to them the next day as they worked and said 'Gentlemen, you are brothers, so why do you harm one another?'
"But the one harming his neighbor pushed him aside, saying, 'Who made you our king and court? Are you going to kill me, like you killed the Egyptian yesterday?'
"Moses ran when he heard this, and settled in the foreign land of Madian, and had two sons.
"Once forty years had passed, he saw an angel of the Lord appear in the desert around Sina in a blazing bush. When he saw it, he was awestruck, and when he walked closer, heard the Lord's voice: 'I am the God of your forefathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses trembled, and didn't dare look up.
"Then God told him, 'Take off your shoes, because you're standing on holy ground. I've seen how my people are oppressed in Egypt, heard their cries, and have arrived to save them. Now, I'm sending you to Egypt.'
"To Moses, who they had sent away and said, 'Who made you our king and court,' God appeared as a burning bush, and guided with an angelic hand to rule over them and save them. He led them out of Egypt, after performing great signs and accomplishments in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for forty years. This is the same Moses who told the sons of Israel that 'Lord God will give bring a profit from your brothers much like me, who you should listen to.'
"This is the man who was worshiping in the desert when an Angel came to him on Mount Sinai, who brought prophecies to us. This is the man our ancestors disobeyed and expelled, desiring the slavery of Egypt. They told Aaron, 'Build us some idols to take with us. But Moses, the man who saved us from Egypt, we don't care about him.' So they made a golden calf and offered it sacrifices, proud of what they had made.
"So God let them do as they wished, fulfilling prophecies: 'Nation of Israel, have you sacrificed animals to me during your forty years of wandering the desert? No. You prayed in Moloch's temples, and your false god Remphan's, idols you made just to worship. For this, I will take you past Babylon.'
"Our ancestors had a temple of faith in that desert, as God had told Moses to do, according to his building directions. Then our forefathers gave it up to the gentiles along with Jesus, and God threw them out in front of our forefathers, and it's been here since the time of David, who was blessed by God and wanted to find a temple for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who ended up building it."
"'But the Highest doesn't live in handmade temples,' said the prophet. 'My throne is heaven, but earth is my footstool. How can you possibly build me a house?' says the Lord, 'how will I rest there? Have I not made everything with my own hands?'"
"You closed-minded and rule-flaunting men, why do you resist the Divine Guide just like your fathers? Your fathers persecuted all of my prophets, didn't they? And they killed anyone who foretold the Just One's arrival. You have heard the law from the mouths of angels, but ignored it."
When the people heard this, their very souls were shaken, and looked on in frustration. But he was full of the Divine God, and saw God's glory in heaven, with Jesus standing on God's right hand. He said, "Look, I see the heavens open, and the Son of Man stands at God's right hand."
They shouted loudly, plugged their ears, and ran at him together. They threw him out of the city and stoned him. Those who witnessed it set their clothes at the feet of a young man, Saul. They stoned Stephen while he declared to God, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"
He knelt and cried out, "Lord, don't blame them with this sin." He then passed away.
Saul agreed to his execution, and the Christians of Jerusalem were direly persecuted, just as those in the lands of Judaea and Samaria, though not the apostles. Faithful men carried Stephen to be buried, and wept over his body. But Saul acted tyrannically toward the church, dragging Christians from every house to throw them in prison, so the men scattered across the lands traveled preaching the gospel.
(Conservative Bible Mark 16:20 not translated. See Conservative Bible Mark 9-16 (Translated) Chapter 16 KJV.)
|Chapter 37||Bible texts|
Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven, went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ, the Anointed. The multitudes listened with one accord to the things that were spoken by Philip, when they heard and saw the signs which he did. For unclean spirits came out of many of those who had them. They came out, crying with a loud voice. Many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. There was great joy in that city.
But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who used to practice sorcery in the city, and amazed the people of Samaria, making himself out to be some great one, to whom they all listened, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is that Great Power of God.”
They listened to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching good news concerning God’s Kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself also believed. Being baptized, he continued with Philip. Seeing signs and great miracles occurring, he was amazed.
Now when the Apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power, that whomever I lay my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.”
But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this, your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”
Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have spoken happen to me.”
They therefore, when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the Good News to many villages of the Samaritans.
Simon, being convicted of his wickedness by the Apostle Peter, undertook a great journey from the east across the sea, and fled to the west, thinking that this was the only way for him to live according to his own mind.
But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert road.”
He arose and went; and behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.”
Philip ran to him, and heard him reading aloud Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
He said, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?”
He begged Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this,
The eunuch answered Philip, “Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?”
Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him Jesus. As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?”
And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may."
And he replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
He commanded the chariot to stand still, and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found forty miles away at Azotus (anciently called Ashdod). Passing through, he preached the Good News to all the cities, before he came to Caesarea.
Now you have heard of Saul's way of living in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure he persecuted the Assembly of God and ravaged it. He had advanced in the Jews’ religion beyond many of his own age among his countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of his fathers.
But Saul, still breathing threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, about A.D. 36 went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Remember the words of the Lord, how he said, "Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God."
We understand Saul's heart according to what is written by the sweet Psalmist of Israel in the Book of Psalms, one hundred nineteen. And we know the mercy of the Lord. Think of his zeal for the law; as to righteousness under the law he was blameless. (The scriptures are not open to the understanding of fools, nor are they read by those impatient to be entertained.)
As he traveled, he got close to Damascus, and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him. He fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Who are you, Lord?”
The Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you; delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me. But rise up, and enter into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the sound, but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one. They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. He was without sight for three days, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
He said, “Behold, it is me, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Arise, and go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judah for one named Saul, a man of Tarsus. For behold, he is praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in, and laying his hands on him, that he might receive his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he did to your saints at Jerusalem. Here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Ananias departed, and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he received his sight. Ananias said, “The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth. For you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
He arose and was baptized. He took food and was strengthened.
But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated him from his mother’s womb and called him through his grace to reveal his Son in him, that he might preach him among the Gentiles, he did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did he go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before him, but he went away into Arabia. There, Saul, according to tradition, whether in the body, he does not know, or whether out of the body, he does not know; God knows; he was caught up into the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. As it is written in in the Deuteronomy:
Then he returned to Damascus.
Saul stayed several days with the disciples who were at Damascus.
Immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed the Christ, the Anointed One, that he is the Son of God. All who heard him were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem made havoc of those who called on this name? And he had come here intending to bring them bound before the chief priests!”
But Saul increased more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ, the Anointed One.
Now about this same time Tiberius Caesar died, A.D. 37, and after him Gaius Caligula was made Emperor of Rome. The Latin name of this Caligula is Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; he was Roman emperor from A.D. 37 to A.D. 41.
Gaius was born in Antium, which is modern Anzio and Nettuno, on thirty-one August A.D. 12. He was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire, the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the third son of Germanicus, a popular Roman general, and Agrippina the Elder, the daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder. In honor of his famous relative, he was named Gaius Julius Caesar. Agrippina was a granddaughter of Augustus and Scribonia on her mother's side. Through Agrippina the Elder, Augustus was the maternal great-grandfather of Gaius. Gaius was also a nephew of Claudius, Germanicus's younger brother and future emperor. Gaius had two older brothers, Nero and Drusus; but this Nero is not the same Nero, the son of his sister Agrippina the Younger, who was born after Gaius, the mother of that Nero who later became emperor after Claudius.
As a boy of just two or three, Gaius accompanied his father, Germanicus, on campaigns in the north of Germania. The soldiers were amused that Gaius was dressed in a miniature soldier's outfit, including boots and armor. Because of the small boots he wore, he was soon given his nickname Caligula, the diminutive form of the regular Latin word for boot, caliga, its plural form being caligae—the diminutive Latin form of caligula, "little boot", means, "little soldier's boot", or "baby boots". In A.D. 14, two years after Gaius Caligula's birth, his father's uncle and adoptive father, Tiberius, succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome.
In A.D. 19, Germanicus died at Antioch. Suetonius claims that Germanicus was poisoned in Syria by an agent of Tiberius, who viewed Germanicus as a political rival. The third of six surviving children born to Germanicus and his second cousin Agrippina the Elder, Gaius had besides his two older brothers three younger sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Julia Drusilla and Julia Livilla. When Germanicus died at Antioch in A.D. 19, Agrippina returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius.
After the death of his father, "Baby Boots" Caligula continued to live with his mother before her relations with Tiberius deteriorated. Tiberius would not allow Agrippina to remarry for fear her husband would be a rival. The conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family. Agrippina and Caligula's older brother, Nero, were banished in A.D. 29 on charges of treason. It was in those days that John the son of Zechariah began preaching in Judea a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The adolescent Caligula was then sent to live with his great-grandmother, Tiberius's mother, Livia. After her death, he was sent to live with his grandmother Antonia Minor. Suetonius writes that after the banishment of his mother and brothers, Caligula and his sisters were nothing more than prisoners of Tiberius under the close watch of soldiers. Gaius reportedly grew to dislike his nickname "little boot". In A.D. 30, his oldest brother, Drusus Caesar, was imprisoned on charges of treason, and his brother Nero died in exile from either starvation or suicide.
Untouched by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted an invitation in A.D. 31 to join the emperor on the island of Capri, where Tiberius had withdrawn from Rome five years earlier. He was eighteen. In those days Jesus was preaching the kingdom of God in Galilee and Judea.
Caligula had brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin. Caligula's irritability and his "stare" as described by Pliny the Elder has been seen by some as symptomatic of hyperthyroidism. Suetonius said that Caligula suffered from "falling sickness", or epilepsy, when he was young. Modern historians have theorized that Caligula lived with a daily fear of seizures. Although swimming was a part of imperial education, Caligula could not swim. Epileptics are discouraged from swimming in open waters because unexpected fits in such difficult rescue circumstances can be fatal. Additionally, Caligula reportedly talked to the full moon. The ancients had long associated epilepsy with the moon, in Latin called Luna, and for this reason epileptics were called lunatics.
In A.D. 31, at the age of nineteen, Caligula was legally remanded to the personal care of Tiberius on the island of Capri, where he lived for six years, constantly exposed to the unspeakable moral depravity of the emperor, the foul depths of his corruption, and his cruelty. Tiberius delighted in recruiting for his entertainment and pleasure hundreds of spintrian sexual deviants, young nymphomaniac girls and boy prostitutes who were adepts in performing unnatural practices. It was about this time that the A.D. 31 plot of Lucius Aelius Sejanus to usurp Tiberius as emperor, to seize control of the Senate, the Legions and the empire, was exposed. Sejanus was Tiberius's Pretorian Prefect, to whom he had given plenary powers as being efficient and cunning enough to do whatever Tiberius required of him; and Sejanus and his entire family and all those he had associated with him in his conspiracy were executed by command of Tiberius; but the emperor still refused to return to Rome, and he remained in his Villa Io for the next nine months. With Sejanus out of the way Tiberius's savageries increased, offering clear proof to all that Sejanus had not, as some had supposed, been the one inciting him to commit them, but instead had willingly provided only the opportunities the emperor himself had demanded of him. In Capreae they still show the clifftop site where Tiberius, after having his victims subjected to prolonged, excruciating tortures for his gratification and entertainment, watched them being thrown into the sea. To the surprise of many, Caligula was spared by Tiberius.
Suetonius claims that Caligula was already cruel and vicious: he writes that, when Tiberius brought Caligula to Capri, his purpose was to allow Caligula to live in order that he might prove to be the ruin both of himself and of all men, and that he was rearing a viper for the Roman people and deliberately training "a Phaethon for the world." In those days Caligula could not control his impulsive natural brutality. He enjoyed the sight of tortures and executions, and he constantly abandoned himself to feasting to the point of vomiting, and to all kinds of scandalous living arrangements. Meanwhile, both Caligula's mother and his brother Drusus died in prison, with Caligula as the sole remaining male survivor. He may well have believed the rumor that Tiberius had poisoned his father Germanicus twelve years before, when he was six or seven, and that his brother Nero died in exile from either starvation or suicide. According to historians, Caligula was an excellent natural actor and, recognizing danger, hid all his resentment toward Tiberius. Caligula spent time befriending the Praetorian prefect, Naevius Sutorius Macro, an important ally. Macro spoke well of Caligula to Tiberius, attempting to quell any ill will or suspicion the Emperor felt toward Caligula. Caligula afterward claimed to have planned to kill Tiberius with a dagger in order to avenge his mother and brother: however, having brought the weapon into Tiberius's bedroom he did not kill the Emperor but instead threw the dagger down on the floor. It is said that Tiberius was aware of this but never dared to do anything about it. The genius of the emperor was goading him to design the destruction of both himself and the whole of the civilized world of mankind.
In A.D. 33, in Judea, according to tradition, our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he died, descended into hell, and rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sat down on his throne of glory at the right hand of the Father; and ten days later he sent down the Holy Spirit on his apostles and disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that he had commanded them. Thousands were converted, and they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.
The same year, Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestorship, a position he held all the days before his rise to emperor. In the same year A.D. 33, at the age of twenty-one, Caligula was briefly married to Junia Claudilla, but she died in childbirth the following year, A.D. 34. It was about this time that Stephen was stoned to death in Jerusalem for his witness to the Lord, and Saul stood by; and on that day a great persecution arose against the assembly in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
In A.D. 35, at the age of twenty-three, Gaius Julius Caesar Caligula was named joint heir to Tiberius's estate along with Tiberius Gemellus, his cousin and Tiberius's own grandson. When Caligula's friend Herod Agrippa confided to him that he prayed that Tiberius would die soon, that Gaius might the sooner be emperor, he was overheard. Tiberius was made aware of this, and he immediately imprisoned Agrippa in a dungeon and bound him with an iron chain. It was about this time, in A.D. 36 that Saul in Jerusalem went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem; and as he approached Damascus, Jesus appeared to him. And when he was baptized, he did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did he go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before him, but he went away into Arabia. Then he returned to Damascus, and immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed the Christ, the Anointed One, that he is the Son of God. Saul increased more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ, the Anointed One. Peter himself, at this time, was passing throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria among all the assembly of the saints.
When Tiberius died on sixteen March A.D. 37, his estate and the titles of the principate were left to Caligula and Tiberius's own grandson, Gemellus, who were to serve as joint heirs.
Although Tiberius was seventy-seven and on his death bed, some ancient historians still conjecture that he was murdered. Tacitus writes that the Praetorian Prefect, Macro, smothered Tiberius with a pillow to hasten Caligula's accession, much to the joy of the Roman people, while Suetonius writes that Caligula may have carried out the killing, though this is not recorded by any other ancient historian; it is possible that other records of the killing have not survived. It may be that Macro acted by order of Caligula. Other historians, Seneca the Elder and Philo, who both wrote during Tiberius's reign, as well as Josephus record Tiberius as dying a natural death. If that is the case, then Macro acted on Caligula's order almost immediately after the emperor died, to insure that he was indeed dead.
Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded his adoptive grandfather as emperor in A.D. 37 at the age of twenty-four. Backed by Macro, Caligula had Tiberius's will nullified on grounds of insanity with regard to Gemellus, excluding him from any share in the principate; but otherwise he carried out Tiberius's wishes. Afterward he adopted Gemellus as his son and heir.
There are few surviving sources about the reign of Gaius Caligula, although he is described by all the extant sources as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. The scarcity of sources has left significant gaps in modern knowledge of the reign of Gaius; little is written on the first two years of Caligula's reign.
Suetonius described Caligula as sickly-looking, skinny and pale:
Suetonius also said,
Tiberius died after having reigned about twenty-two years, having appointed Gaius as his successor; and Gaius, receiving the empire next, immediately conferred the Jewish government on Herod Agrippa, appointing him king over the tetrarchies both of Philip and Lysanias. One of Gaius' early acts was to put a diadem on Agrippa's head and appoint him king over the tetrarchy of Philip. He also gave him a golden chain equal in weight to the iron one that had bound him, and Agrippa returned home in triumph, governor of the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis after Caligula became emperor in A.D. 37.
Caligula accepted the powers of the principate as conferred by the Senate and entered Rome on twenty-eight March amid a crowd that hailed him as "our baby" and "our star", among other nicknames. As Pharaoh of Egypt, he adopted the royal titulary
Caligula is described as the first emperor who was said to be admired by everyone in "all the world, from the rising to the setting sun." In reality, Caligula was loved by many for being the beloved son of the popular Germanicus, and because he was not Tiberius. Suetonius said that over one hundred sixty thousand animals were sacrificed during three months of public rejoicing to usher in the new reign. Philo describes the first seven months of Caligula's reign as completely blissful.
Caligula's first acts were said to be generous in spirit, though many were political in nature. Perhaps most significantly, he restored the practice of democratic elections. Cassius Dio said that this act, though delighting the rabble, grieved the sensible, who paused to reflect that if the public offices should fall once more into the hands of the many, many civil, military and social disasters would result. To gain support, he granted bonuses to the military, including the Praetorian Guard, city troops and the army outside Italy. He destroyed Tiberius's treason records, declared that treason trials were a thing of the past, and recalled those who had been sent into exile. He assisted those who had been harmed by the oppressive imperial tax system; banished the spintrian sexual deviants, young nymphomaniac girls and boy prostitutes who were adepts in performing unnatural practices, the same kind he had played with on Capri, and only with difficulty could he restrain himself from drowning them all; and he put on lavish spectacles for the public, including gladiatorial games. Caligula collected and brought back the bones of his mother and of his brothers Nero and Drusus Caesar and deposited their remains in the tomb of Augustus.
In October of 37, Caligula fell seriously ill, or perhaps was poisoned, we do not know. He soon recovered from his illness, but many believed that the illness turned the young emperor toward the diabolical: he started to kill off or exile those who were close to him or whom he saw as a serious threat. The method of execution he preferred was to have numerous small wounds inflicted, while avoiding the vital organs, the death of small cuts. His soon familiar order became proverbial: "Make him feel he is dying!" He had his cousin and adopted son Tiberius Gemellus executed. This was an act that outraged Caligula's and Gemellus's mutual grandmother Antonia Minor. Upon his grandmother Antonia’s giving him some advice, as if it was a small matter, to pay no regard to it, he said to her, “Remember that all things are lawful for me.” He imperiously stated that he could do anything he pleased to whomever he chose. She is said to have committed suicide, although Suetonius hints that Caligula actually poisoned her. He had his father-in-law Marcus Junius Silanus and his brother-in-law Marcus Lepidus executed as well. His uncle Claudius was spared only because Caligula preferred to keep him as a laughing stock to ridicule. Caligula was rumored to have carried on incestuous relationships with his three sisters, Agrippina, Drusilla and Julia Livilla. He had coins struck with their images, as well as his own.
In A.D. 38, Caligula was criticized for executing people without full trials and for forcing his supporter Macro to commit suicide. Caligula did not trust the prefect of Egypt, Aulus Avilius Flaccus. Flaccus had been loyal to Tiberius, had conspired against Caligula's mother and had connections with Egyptian separatists. In 38, Caligula sent Agrippa to Alexandria unannounced to check on Flaccus. According to Philo, the visit was met with jeers from the Greek population who saw Agrippa as the king of the Jews. Philo wrote a famous treatise, Contra Flaccus, condemning his acts against the Jews. Flaccus tried to placate both the Greek population and Caligula by having statues of the emperor placed in Jewish synagogues. As a result, riots broke out in the city. Caligula responded by removing Flaccus from his position and executing him.
His favorite sister Julia Drusilla died that same year in A.D. 38 of a fever, and he declared her to be deified, a goddess to be worshipped: his other two sisters, Livilla and Agrippina the Younger, were exiled. He hated being the grandson of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and slandered Augustus by repeating a falsehood that his mother was actually conceived as the result of an incestuous relationship between Augustus and his daughter Julia the Elder.
During the same year, though, Caligula also focused his attention on political and public reform. He published the accounts of public funds, which had not been made public during the reign of Tiberius. He aided those who lost property in fires, abolished certain taxes, and gave out prizes to the public at gymnastic events. He allowed new members into the equestrian and senatorial orders. According to Suetonius, in the first year of Caligula's reign he squandered two billion seven hundred million sesterces that Tiberius had amassed. His nephew Nero Caesar, son of his sister Agrippina the Younger, both envied and admired the fact that Gaius in so short a time had run through the vast wealth that Tiberius had left him. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether the purported "squandered wealth" was from the treasury alone, due to the customary blurring of the distinction between the private wealth of the emperor and his income as head of state. Caligula's political payments for support, generosity and extravagance had exhausted the state's treasury. Suetonius places the beginning of a financial crisis in 38. According to Cassius Dio, this financial crisis emerged in A.D. 39.
In A.D. 39, King Agrippa accused Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, of planning a rebellion against Roman rule with the help of Parthia. This was the same Herod who had beheaded John the Baptist, and was partner with Pilate in the passion of our Savior. Extremely jealous over the success of her brother, Herodias prodded her husband Herod to embark for Rome and petition for the kingship also. He resisted her as best he could, but finally gave in, and they sailed to Italy, where they met the emperor at Baiae. During their interview, Gaius was reading letters from Agrippa, in which he indicted Herod for conspiring with Sejanus, a Roman prefect, against Tiberius and for being in alliance now with Artabanus of Parthia against Gaius. As proof, Agrippa cited seventy thousand pieces of armor stored in Herod's armories. Gaius asked Antipas whether the arms were there, and when he received an affirmative, he took away Herod's tetrarchy and added it to Agrippa's kingdom, banishing Herod. Herod Antipas confessed and Caligula exiled him. He would have permitted Herodias to return and enjoy her property, but she chose exile with her husband.
Thus, not long after Caligula became emperor in A.D. 37, and he had immediately conferred the Jewish government on Herod Agrippa, appointing him king over the tetrarchies both of Philip and Lysanias, and making him governor of the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis, and after inflicting on Antipas the punishment of perpetual exile, together with his wife Herodias, for their numerous crimes, he added to him also the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas. Agrippa was rewarded with his territories.
A brief famine of unknown extent occurred, perhaps caused by the financial crisis which, according to Cassius Dio emerged in 39, but Suetonius claims it resulted from Caligula's seizure of public carriages. According to Seneca, grain imports were disrupted because Caligula had repurposed grain boats for a pontoon bridge. In 39, Caligula performed a spectacular stunt by ordering a temporary floating bridge to be built using ships as pontoons, stretching for over two miles from the resort of Baiae to the neighboring port of Puteoli. It was said that the bridge was to rival the Persian king Xerxes's pontoon bridge crossing of the Hellespont. Caligula, who could not swim, then proceeded to ride his favorite horse, Incitatus, across wearing the breastplate of Alexander the Great. This act was in defiance of a prediction by Tiberius's soothsayer Thrasyllus of Mendes that Caligula had "no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae".
Gaius's contempt of the Jews was typical of what he inflicted on the entire Roman empire. He not only built a pontoon bridge across the gulf at Misenum just for his chariot, he pillaged the Greek temples of sculpture. He terrorized all classes of citizens, putting some to death for their wealth, and insisted on his own divinity, calling Jupiter "brother". Ancient historians state that in response to the financial crisis in 39 Caligula began falsely accusing, fining and even killing individuals for the purpose of seizing their estates. Historians describe a number of Caligula's other desperate measures. In order to gain funds, Caligula asked the public to lend the state money. He levied taxes on lawsuits, weddings and prostitution. Caligula began auctioning the lives of the gladiators at shows. Wills that left items to Tiberius were reinterpreted to leave the items instead to Caligula. Centurions who had acquired property by plunder were forced to turn over spoils to the state. The current and past highway commissioners were accused of incompetence and embezzlement and forced to repay money. At the races, many people shouted for a tax reduction, but Gaius had them executed before the spectators.
Despite financial difficulties, Caligula embarked on a number of construction projects during his reign. Some were for the public good, though others were for himself. Josephus describes Caligula's improvements to the harbors at Rhegium and Sicily, allowing increased grain imports from Egypt, as his greatest contributions. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, and began the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus, which Pliny the Elder considered engineering marvels. Caligula completed the temple of Augustus and the theatre of Pompey and began an amphitheatre beside the Saepta. He expanded the imperial palace. He had an Egyptian obelisk transported by sea and erected in the middle of Rome. This obelisk, now known as the "Vatican Obelisk", was first brought from Egypt to Rome by Caligula. It was the centerpiece of a large racetrack he built, known as the circus of Gaius and Nero. At Syracuse, he repaired the city walls and the temples of the gods. He had new roads built and pushed to keep roads in good condition. He had planned to rebuild the palace of Polycrates at Samos, to finish the temple of Didymaean Apollo at Ephesus and to found a city high up in the Alps. He planned to dig a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece and sent a chief centurion to survey the work.
Caligula had two large ships constructed for himself. These ships were among the largest vessels in the ancient world. The smaller ship was designed as a temple dedicated to Diana. The larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace with marble floors and plumbing. This massive vessel served as an elaborate floating palace for the Emperor.
In the same year A.D. 39, relations between Caligula and the Roman Senate deteriorated. The subject of their disagreement is unknown. A number of factors, though, aggravated this feud. The Senate had become accustomed to ruling without an emperor between the departure of Tiberius for Capri in A.D. 26 and Caligula's accession in A.D. 37, and resented his autocratic, overruling interference. Additionally, Tiberius's treason trials had eliminated a number of pro-Julian senators such as Asinius Gallus, reducing his political support. Caligula reviewed Tiberius's records of treason trials and decided, based on their actions during these trials, that numerous senators were not trustworthy. He ordered a new set of investigations and trials. He replaced the consul and had several senators put to death. Suetonius reports that other senators were degraded by being forced to wait on him, bow to him and kiss his feet, and run beside his chariot. Caligula's actions as emperor were described as being especially harsh to the Senate, to the nobility and to the equestrian order. According to Josephus, these actions led to several failed conspiracies against Caligula. Seneca was almost put to death by Caligula in A.D. 39 likely due to his associations with conspirators.
Soon after his break with the Senate, Caligula faced a number of additional conspiracies against him. A conspiracy involving his brother-in-law was foiled in late 39. Soon afterward, the Governor of Germany, Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, was executed for connections to a conspiracy.
After this, the ancient sources of that period focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. They assert that he even had sexual intercourse with his own sister. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to judiciously limiting the exercise of his autocratic powers within the principate for the edification and benefit of the people.
In A.D. 40, Caligula began implementing very controversial policies that introduced religion into his political role. According to Cassius Dio, living emperors could be worshipped as divine in the east and dead emperors could be worshipped as divine in Rome. Augustus during his reign had the public worship his spirit on occasion, his genius, but Dio describes this as an extreme act that emperors were generally reluctant to use. Caligula's religious policy was a departure from that of his predecessors. Caligula took things a step further. He had discovered the absolute, autocratic authority of the office of the emperor over the Senate and the people of Rome which Julius Caesar himself had long before carefully designed and cunningly disguised in official documents of Rome, which had been fully approved by the Senate in perpetuity. His reign highlighted an inherent weakness in the Augustan Principate, now openly revealed for what it was—a raw monarchy in which only the self-discipline of the incumbent acted as a restraint on his behavior.
Under the malign influence of the genius of the emperor, and finding a precedent in the example of the kings of the east, and with the teachings of the east as a pretext, against all reason, Gaius declared himself a living god, and had those in Rome, including senators, worship him as a tangible, living god. According to historians, Caligula was an excellent natural actor. Caligula began appearing in public dressed as various gods and demigods such as Hercules, Mercury, Venus and Apollo. Reportedly, he began referring to himself as a god when meeting with politicians and he was referred to as "Jupiter" on occasion in public documents.
When several client kings came to Rome to pay their respects to him and argued about their nobility of descent, he allegedly cried out the line from Homer: "Let there be one lord, one king." A sacred precinct was set apart for his worship at Miletus in the province of Asia and two temples were erected for worship of him in Rome. The ruins of the temple of Castor and Pollux in the Forum Romanum, and ancient resources as well as recent archaeological evidence suggest that, at one point, Caligula had the palace extended to annex this structure. The Temple of Castor and Pollux on the forum was linked directly to the imperial residence on the Palatine and dedicated to Gaius Caligula. He would appear here on occasion and present himself as a god to the public, standing between the statues of the two brothers, The Divine Twins, Castor and Pollux, to be worshiped by all visitants, some of whom addressed him as "Jupiter Latiaris", the chief god of the ancient league of Latin cities, worshiped on the Alban Mount south of Rome. Caligula had the heads removed from various statues of gods and replaced with his own in temples. It is said that he wished to be worshipped as "Neos Helios", the "New Sun". Indeed, he was represented as a sun god on Egyptian coins. He established a shrine to his own godhead, with priests, and the costliest possible sacrificial victims, and a life-sized golden image of himself, which was dressed every day in clothes identical with those he happened to be wearing.
Additionally, there are only limited details on later significant events, such as Caligula's military actions in Britannia, his increasing feud with the Roman Senate and the annexation of Mauretania. During his reign, the empire annexed the Kingdom of Mauretania as a province.
In the same year A.D. 40, Caligula expanded the Roman Empire into Mauretania and made a significant attempt at expanding into Britannia—even challenging Neptune in his campaign. There seems to have been a northern campaign to Britannia that was aborted. This campaign is derided by ancient historians. The few primary sources disagree on what precisely occurred. According to Suetonius, he assembled his army in full battle array on the shore of the ocean, moved the siege engines into position, commanded the trumpets to sound, and gave the order, "Gather seashells!" He commanded his combat-ready troops to fill their helmets and the folds of their garments with them, declaring them to be plunder from the sea, taken from Neptune himself. He took them as trophies to Rome, and displayed them in the temples as being rightly due the Capital and the Palatine as treasures of imperial conquest.
Mauretania was a client kingdom of Rome ruled by Ptolemy of Mauretania, his cousin. Caligula invited Ptolemy to Rome and then suddenly had him executed. Mauretania was annexed by Caligula, and afterward it was divided into two provinces, Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis, separated by the river Malua. This expansion may not have been prompted by pressing military or economic needs. Caligula's move appears to have had a strictly personal political motive—fear and jealousy of his cousin Ptolemy. However, the rebellion of Tacfarinas had shown how exposed Africa Proconsularis was to its west and how the Mauretanian client kings were unable to provide protection to the province, and it is thus possible that Caligula's expansion was a prudent response to potential future threats, offering him a pretext to execute Ptolemy.
Caligula needed to quell several riots and conspiracies in the eastern territories during his reign. The cause of tensions in the east was complicated, involving the spread of Greek culture, Roman Law and the rights of Jews in the empire. Aiding him in his actions was his good friend, Herod Agrippa.
In Gaius's reign Philo became famous as one of the greatest scholars, a Hebrew who was the equal of any of the most highly esteemed and influential authorities of learning in Alexandria. The quantity and quality of his studies in theology, philosophy, and the liberal arts, plainly shows that he surpassed all his contemporaries as an authority on Plato and Pythagoras.
Philo himself, in The Embassy to Gaius, provides a detailed account of what he did at that time. But it is enough to cite only those things that demonstrate the calamities that quickly fell on the Jews as a consequence of their crimes against Christ. He relates that in Rome at the time of Tiberius, the most influential member of the imperial court, Sejanus, made arrangements to eradicate the entire race. In Judea, in the same reign of Tiberius, Pilate, under whom the crime against the Savior was committed, made an attempt on the Temple in Jerusalem, bringing in images, contrary to the privileges granted the Jews, and harassed them severely, while after the death of Tiberius, the emperor Gaius inflicted outrages on many, but most of all on the whole Jewish race. This may be learned from Philo's own words:
Philo sets forth in five books what happened to the Jews in the reign of Gaius: the insanity of the emperor, how he proclaimed himself a god and committed innumerable insolent deeds, the misery of the Jews in his time, and Philo's mission to Rome on behalf of his people in Alexandria. Philo wrote, in his own words, that Caligula,
Meanwhile, the Jews and Greeks of Alexandria had engaged in civil strife. Riots again erupted in Alexandria in this same year A.D. 40 between Jews and Greeks. Jews were accused of not honoring the emperor.
When a riot took place in Alexandria between the Jews living there and the Greeks, three from each side were chosen to go as representatives to the emperor. Both sides sent three delegates to present their case before Gaius, who was now overcome with delusions of divinity. The Greeks' spokesman, Apion, one of the Alexandrian representatives, brought many charges against the Jews, claiming in particular that they neglected to honor Caesar and that when all Roman subjects erected altars and temples to Gaius as they did to gods, the Jews alone thought it disgraceful to honor him with statues or swear by his name. He scurrilously attacked the Jews for neglecting to honor the emperor with altars, statues, and temples as the rest of the empire had done. Philo—the skilled philosopher and head of the Jewish delegation, brother of Alexander the Alabarch, the chief magistrate among the Jews at Alexandria—capably refuted the charges in defending their ancestral laws, before Gaius cut him short. Philo, representing the Jews, began his defense but was angrily cut off by Gaius, who would now avenge himself on the Jews. He received nothing but laughter and ridicule from Gaius. He told him to leave, and became so enraged that he was clearly at the point of taking drastic measures against him, and he narrowly escaped with his life. So Philo left, deeply insulted, and told his Jewish associates to have courage: even if Gaius was furious with them he was in fact already at war with God.
Disputes occurred in the city of Jamnia; Jews were angered by the erection of a pagan clay altar and destroyed it. In response, Caligula ordered the erection of a statue of himself in the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, a demand in conflict with Jewish monotheism. Gaius sent Petronius as legate of Syria to replace Vitellius, and ordered him to lead an army into Judea and set up a statue of himself inside the Temple of God. When Petronius arrived with his army at Ptolemais, he was met by many thousands of Jews who pleaded with him to respect their laws and not erect the statue. He then went on to Tiberias, where he received the same response from all the Jews. They declared that they would rather die than see their laws transgressed, and even now prepared to leave their land untilled.
Their resolve moved Petronius, and he decided to risk Gaius's anger rather than drench the country with blood. Publius Petronius, now the Governor of Syria, fearing civil war if the order were carried out, delayed implementing it for nearly a year.
The deteriorating situation between Gaius and the Senate had escalated when, in the same year A.D. 40, Caligula announced to the Senate that he planned to leave Rome permanently and to move to Alexandria in Egypt, where he hoped to be worshipped as a living god. The prospect of Rome losing its emperor and thus its political power was the decisive outrage for many. Such a move would have left both the Senate and the Praetorian Guard powerless to stop Caligula's repression and debauchery. With this in mind Cassius Chaerea, the powerful prefect of the Praetorian Guard, convinced his fellow conspirators, who included Marcus Vinicius and Lucius Annius Vinicianus, to put their plot into action as quickly as possible.
According to Josephus, Chaerea had political motivations for plotting his assassination. Suetonius instead sees the motive in Caligula calling Chaerea derogatory names. Caligula considered Chaerea effeminate because of a weak voice and for not being firm with tax collection. Caligula would mock Chaerea by assigning him identifying passwords with names like "Priapus" and "Venus"; and if he came to Caligula to acknowledge a favor, instead of his hand, Caligula presented him his middle finger to kiss, and moved it obscenely. Chaerea found no opportunity to assassinate him that year.
About this same time, about A.D. 40, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, Nero’s father, died, and Nero was then brought up by his mother in exile, Agrippina the Younger, a great-granddaughter of the emperor Augustus.
Meanwhile, Saul had been in Damascus three years preaching boldly in the name of the Lord, and confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. Then, at this time, in A.D. 40, in Syria, after three years, during the reign of Caligula, when many days were fulfilled, the Jews conspired together to kill Saul. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas guarded the Damascenes’ city, desiring to arrest him. But their plot became known to Saul. They watched the gates both day and night that they might kill him, but his disciples took him by night, and let him down through the wall, lowering him in a basket. He was let down in a basket through a window by the wall, and escaped his hands. Then he went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter.
When Saul had come to Jerusalem, when he had returned to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus; and he stayed fifteen days with Peter, who is also called Cephas, the Rock. But of the other Apostles he saw no one except James, the Lord’s brother. He was with them entering into Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus. He spoke and disputed against the Hellenists, but they were seeking to kill him.
The brothers heard it. And while Saul prayed in the Temple, he fell into a trance, and saw Jesus saying to him, “Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive from you testimony concerning me.”
He said, “Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue those who believed in you. When the blood of Stephen, your witness, was shed, I also was standing by, consenting to his death, and guarding the cloaks of those who killed him.’
He said to Saul, “Depart, for I will send you out far from here to the Gentiles.”
So the assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up. They were multiplied, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
As Peter went throughout all those parts, all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, because he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed!”
Immediately he arose. All who lived at Lydda and in Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which when translated, means Dorcas, which means, Gazelle. This woman was full of good works and acts of mercy which she did. In those days, she became sick, and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. As Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Peter got up and went with them. When he had come, they brought him into the upper room. All the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out, and knelt down and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up!”
She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand, and raised her up. Calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. He stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.
Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man, and one who feared God with all his house, who generously gave alms, gifts for the needy to the people, and always prayed to God. At about the ninth hour of the day, about 3 P.M., fifteen hundred hours military time, he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God coming to him, a man standing before him in bright clothing, and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
He, fastening his eyes on him, and being frightened, said, “What is it, Lord?”
He said to him, “Your prayers and your gifts to the needy have gone up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and get Simon, who is also called Peter. He lodges with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the seaside.”
When the messenger who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier of those who waited on him continually. Having explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Now on the next day as they were on their journey, and got close to the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray at about noon. He became hungry and desired to eat, but while they were preparing, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet let down by four corners on the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!”
But Peter said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
A voice came to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.”
And immediately the vessel was received up into heaven.
Again he saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet let down by four corners on the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky.
A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!”
But Peter said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
A voice came to him again, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.”
And immediately the vessel was received up into heaven.
Again he saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet let down by four corners on the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky.
A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!”
But Peter said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
A voice came to him again, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.”
This was done three times, and immediately the vessel was received up into heaven.
Now while Peter was very perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood before the gate, and called and asked whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was lodging there. While Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men seek you. But arise, get down, and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
Peter went down to the men, and said, “Behold, I am he whom you seek. Why have you come?”
They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous man and one who fears God, and well spoken of by all the nation of the Jews, was directed by a holy angel to invite you to his house, and to listen to what you say.”
So he called them in and provided a place to stay.
On the next day Peter arose and went out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. On the next day they entered into Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his relatives and his near friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell down at his feet, and worshiped him.
But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up! I myself am also a man.”
As he talked with him, he went in and found many gathered together. He said to them, “You yourselves know how it is an unlawful thing for a man who is a Jew to join himself or come to one of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. Therefore also I came without complaint when I was sent for. I ask therefore, why did you send for me?”
Cornelius said, “Four days ago, I was fasting up to this hour, and at the ninth hour, I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer is heard, and your gifts to the needy are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and summon Simon, who is also called Peter. He lodges in the house of a tanner named Simon, by the seaside. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ Therefore I sent to you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God to hear all things that have been commanded you by God.”
Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I perceive that God does not show favoritism; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. The word which he sent to the children of Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all—you yourselves know what happened, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they also killed, hanging him on a tree. God raised him up the third day, and gave him to be revealed, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen before by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that this is he who is appointed by God as the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him, that through his name everyone who believes in him will receive remission of sins.”
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. For they had not believed that God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just like us.”
He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ: in the name of Jesus Christ he commanded them to be baptized. Then they asked him to stay some days.
Now the Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!”
But Peter began, and explained to them in order, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision: a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners. It came as far as me. When I had looked intently at it, I considered, and saw the four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat!’ But I said, ‘Not so, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered into my mouth.’ But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven, ‘What God has cleansed, you do not call unclean.’ This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. Behold, immediately three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent from Caesarea to me. The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the messenger standing in his house, and saying to him, ‘Send to Joppa, and get Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak to you words by which you will be saved, you and all your house.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave to them the same gift as us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?”
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!”
He had been sent to Cornelius, a centurion and a Gentile, and when the Spirit came down on them, he baptized him and all his house; the Holy Spirit thus revealing that to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance to life, and confirming the ministry of Peter to the Gentiles, that he was sent to the Gentiles, and worked through Peter for the mission to the Gentiles long before Paul had ever preached to them, for he was still in Tarsus in Cilicia.
They therefore who were scattered abroad by the oppression that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews only. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. The report concerning them came to the ears of the Assembly which was in Jerusalem. They sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch, who, when he had come, and had seen the grace of God, was glad. He exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should remain near to the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and many people were added to the Lord.
Barnabas went out to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch in Syria. Then Saul came to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. He was still unknown by face to the assemblies of Judea which were in Christ, but they only heard: “He who once persecuted us now preaches the faith that he once tried to destroy.”
So they glorified God in him. For a whole year they were gathered together with the Assembly, and Taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. He testifies that he knew a man in Christ, (whether in the body, he does not know, or whether out of the body, he does not know; God knows), such a one caught up into the third heaven. He knows such a man (whether in the body, or outside of the body, he does not know; God knows), how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. On behalf of this man he will boast, but on his own behalf he will not boast, except for his own weaknesses.
Eusebius says that it is also worth noting that in the reign of Gaius, whose times he has described, Pontius Pilate himself—the same who condemned our Savior to be crucified—is reported to have fallen into such misfortune that he was recalled to Rome and forced to become his own murderer and executioner, the avenger of his own wickedness, to punish himself with his own hand. Divine justice, it seems, did not delay his punishment for long. This is stated by those Greek historians, who have recorded the Olympiads in order, together with the events of the times.
The Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius, convened an assembly of Jews in Tiberias, and told them that he would try to dissuade the emperor from carrying out his plan. And he assured them that, if he failed, he would endure suffering himself rather than see so many of them destroyed. He told them to resume their farming and dismissed the multitude, who gratefully invoked many blessings on him. When he returned to Antioch, he wrote to Gaius, reporting on his expedition into Judea, and he added that unless the emperor wished to destroy both the country and its inhabitants, he should revoke his order.
Meanwhile, Agrippa had treated Gaius to a lavish dinner in Rome, after which the emperor offered him any gift he desired. After declining repeatedly, he interceded for the Jews and asked Gaius not to erect his statue in Jerusalem. With subtle rhetoric Agrippa finally convinced Caligula to reverse the order. The emperor acceded to the request, but afterward, when Petronius's letter arrived, he grew irate again and ordered Petronius to commit suicide for being so slow in executing his divine commands. Yet it so happened that the messengers carrying Gaius's dispatch to Petronius were detained by stormy weather, for it was winter, early mid-January A.D. 41. Caligula issued a second order to have his statue erected in the Temple of Jerusalem. By decree the Temple of Jerusalem was to be transformed into a temple for Caligula, and it was called the temple of illustrious Gaius the new Jupiter, in Greek epiphanous Dios, the visible manifestation of god. Philo himself, in his own words, says
In Rome, another statue of himself, of colossal size, was made of gilt brass for such a temple.
Three conspiracies attempted to assassinate Gaius. One group was at Cordova in Iberia, which is Spain, the second was led by the tribune Cassius Chaerea at Rome, and the third was commanded by Annius Vinicianus. Chaerea was particularly insulted by the effeminate or obscene passwords Gaius would give him, and the reaction of his men when he had to pass them on.
About this time, in early A.D. 41, officers within the Praetorian Guard led by Cassius Chaerea eventually succeeded in murdering the emperor. Shortly after he had issued his order to Petronius, Caligula was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by officers of the Praetorian Guard, senators, and courtiers. The plot is described as having been planned by three men, but many in the Senate, army and equestrian order were said to have been informed of it and involved in it. On twenty-two January 41 according to Cassius Dio (Suetonius gives the date as twenty-four January) Cassius Chaerea and other guardsmen assaulted Caligula in the underground corridor, the cryptoporticus, beneath the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill, as he addressed an acting troupe of young men during a series of games and dramatics held for the Divine Augustus. Chaerea and his conspirators met him in an alley that led to the palace baths and cut Gaius down, in the fourth year of his reign. Details recorded on the events vary somewhat from source to source, but they agree that Chaerea stabbed Caligula first, followed by a number of conspirators. Suetonius records that Caligula's death resembled that of Julius Caesar. He states that both the elder Gaius Julius Caesar, the emperor Julius Caesar, and the younger Gaius Julius Caesar, the emperor Caligula, were each stabbed thirty times by conspirators led by a man named Cassius, first Cassius Longinus and now Cassius Chaerea. By the time Caligula's loyal Germanic guard responded, the Emperor was already dead. The Germanic guard, stricken with grief and rage, responded with a rampaging attack on the assassins, conspirators, innocent senators and bystanders alike. These wounded conspirators were treated by the physician Arcyon.
In A.D. 41, Caligula died, and Claudius was made emperor of Rome. Gaius had not finished four years of rule when Claudius succeeded him as emperor. The Senate attempted to use Caligula's death as an opportunity to restore the republic. The conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic was thwarted, however. Chaerea tried to persuade the military to support the Senate. The military, though, remained loyal to the idea of imperial monarchy. The grieving Roman people assembled and demanded that Caligula's murderers be brought to justice. Uncomfortable with lingering imperial support, the assassins sought out and stabbed Caligula's wife, Caesonia, and killed their young daughter, Julia Drusilla, by smashing her head against a wall. They were unable to reach Caligula's uncle, Claudius. After a soldier, Gratus, found Claudius hiding behind a palace curtain he was spirited out of the city by a sympathetic faction of the Praetorian Guard to the nearby Praetorian camp.
Gaius's uncle, Claudius, was kidnapped by Praetorian guardsmen, who declared him emperor; for they distrusted the ideal of democracy; but the Senate was ringing with oratory in favor of liberty, and opposed the succession of Claudius. King Agrippa happened to be in Rome at this time, and became a mediator between the Praetorian camp and the Senate. Finding that Claudius was perplexed and about to yield to the Senate, he incited him to bid for the empire. Agrippa then went to the Senate and with subtle rhetoric diplomatically persuaded many of its members to withdraw their opposition to Claudius's succession, while the soldiers moved the rest.
After procuring the support of the Praetorian Guard, Claudius became emperor—on the day of the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorians declared Caligula's uncle, Claudius, the next Roman emperor. He ordered the execution of Chaerea and of any other known conspirators involved in the death of Caligula; Chaerea and several of his accomplices were put to death, and Claudius became emperor. According to Suetonius, Caligula's body was placed under turf, and kept there before it was burned and entombed by his surviving sisters, Agrippina the Younger and Julia Livilla. He was buried within the Mausoleum of Augustus.
Messengers sent to the Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius, having unusually favorable weather for their voyage, quickly arrived announcing the death of Gaius Caligula, about the first or second week of February. Now it so happened that the messengers carrying Gaius's earlier dispatch to Petronius, ordering Petronius's suicide for being so slow in executing his commands, were detained by stormy weather when they departed, and they had decided to wait for better weather in March. However, the later messengers, announcing the subsequent death of Gaius, had a favorable voyage, and they arrived first. So Petronius marveled at the providence of God in not receiving Gaius's letter nearly a month after he learned of his death.
The history of Caligula's reign is extremely uncertain as only two sources contemporary with Caligula have survived: the works of Philo and Seneca. Philo's works, On the Embassy to Gaius and Contra Flaccus, give some details of Caligula's early reign, but mostly focus on events surrounding the Jewish population in Judea and Egypt with whom he sympathizes. Seneca's various works give mostly scattered anecdotes about Caligula's personality.
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Caligula was born thirty-one August A.D. 12, and he died twenty-two January A.D. 41, after reigning three years and ten months. Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire before the fall of Nero in A.D. 68, Caligula's death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares, the Julian Caesars in the male line. The Senate unanimously decreed damnatio memoriae against him, damning his memory and destroying his records, sinking his two great ships and defacing and removing his monuments.
There are few surviving sources on Caligula and no surviving source paints Caligula in a favorable light. The validity of these accounts is regarded by modern historians as debatable. In Roman political culture, insanity and sexual perversity were often presented in close connection with poor government. At one time, there were detailed contemporaneous histories on Caligula, but they are now lost. Additionally, the historians who wrote them are described as biased, either overly critical or praising of Caligula. Nonetheless, these lost primary sources, along with the works of Seneca and Philo, were the basis of surviving secondary and tertiary histories on Caligula written by the next generations of historians. A few of the contemporaneous historians are known by name. Fabius Rusticus and Cluvius Rufus both wrote condemning histories on Caligula that are now lost. Fabius Rusticus was a friend of Seneca who was known for historical embellishment and misrepresentation. Cluvius Rufus was a senator involved in the assassination of Caligula. Caligula's sister, Agrippina the Younger, wrote an autobiography that certainly included a detailed explanation of Caligula's reign, but it too is lost. Agrippina was banished by Caligula for her connection to Marcus Lepidus, who conspired against him. The inheritance of Nero, Agrippina's son and the future emperor, was seized by Caligula. Gaetulicus, a poet, produced a number of flattering writings about Caligula, but they too are lost. The bulk of what is known of Caligula comes from Suetonius and Cassius Dio. Pliny claims that the division of Mauretania into the two provinces of Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis was the work of Caligula, but Dio states during the reign of Claudius in A.D. 42 that an uprising took place, which was subdued by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus and Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, and the actual division only took place after this. This confusion might mean that Caligula had decided to divide the province, but the division was postponed because of the rebellion. The first known equestrian governor of the two provinces was Marcus Fadius Celer Flavianus, in office in A.D. 44, the third year of the emperor Claudius. Details on the Mauretanian events of 39 through 44 are unclear. Cassius Dio wrote an entire chapter on the annexation of Mauretania by Caligula, but it is now lost. Suetonius wrote his history on Caligula eighty years after his death, while Cassius Dio wrote his history over one hundred eighty years after Caligula's death. Cassius Dio's work is invaluable because it alone gives a loose chronology of Caligula's reign. A few other sources add limited perspectives on Caligula. Josephus gives a detailed description of Caligula's assassination. Tacitus provides some information on Caligula's life under Tiberius. In a now lost portion of his Annals, Tacitus gave a detailed history of Caligula. Pliny the Elder's Natural History has a few brief references to Caligula.
All surviving sources, except Pliny the Elder, characterize Caligula as insane. However, it is not known whether they are speaking figuratively or literally. Additionally, given Caligula's unpopularity among the surviving sources, the question of whether or not Caligula was insane remains unanswered, especially after his illness early in his reign. After this, the sources focus on his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to judiciously limiting the exercise of his autocratic powers within the principate for the edification and benefit of the people. Additionally, there are only limited details on later significant events, such as the annexation of Mauretania, Caligula's military actions in Britannia, and his feud with the Roman Senate. Philo of Alexandria, Josephus and Seneca state that Caligula was insane, but describe this madness as a personality trait that was acquired and developed through experience. Seneca states that Caligula became arrogant, angry and insulting once becoming emperor and uses his personality flaws as examples his readers can learn from. According to Josephus, power made Caligula incredibly conceited and led him to think he was a god. Philo of Alexandria reports that Caligula became ruthless after nearly dying of an illness in the eighth month of his reign in A.D. 37. Juvenal reports he was given a magic potion that drove him insane. Philo of Alexandria and Seneca the Younger describe Caligula as an insane emperor who was self-absorbed, angry, killed on a whim, and indulged in too much spending and sex. He is accused of sleeping with other men's wives and bragging about it, killing for mere amusement, deliberately wasting money on his bridge, causing starvation, and wanting a statue of himself erected in the Temple of Jerusalem for his worship. It has been said that once, at some games at which he was presiding, he ordered his guards to throw an entire section of the audience into the arena during the intermission to be eaten by the wild beasts because there were no prisoners to be used and he was bored.
While repeating the earlier stories, the later sources of Suetonius and Cassius Dio, the Roman historians, provide additional tales of insanity. They accuse Caligula of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla, and Livilla, and say he prostituted them to other men. They state he sent troops on illogical military exercises, turned the palace into a brothel, and, most famously, planned or promised to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul, and actually appointed him a priest. The validity of these accounts is debatable.
An observer said of Caligula, "Never was there a better servant or a worse master!" He had served Tiberius with duplicitous loyalty, and had tyrannized the empire of Rome.
In the same year, Herod Agrippa the First, the grandson of Herod the Great and son of Aristobulus, also succeeded to the throne in Galilee. Tiberius Caesar had already died in A.D. 37, and after him Gaius Caligula had become Emperor of Rome about the time of Saul's conversion. And now four years later Caligula had died by assassination, and the Praetorian Guard had made Claudius emperor, who reigned for over thirteen years, A.D. 41 through 54. Claudius now confirmed Agrippa as king and added to his domain not only Judea and Samaria as well—all the lands formerly ruled by his grandfather, Herod, Herod the Great—but also Abilene, which had been governed by Lysanias. Then in the middle of the Roman Forum he celebrated a treaty with Agrippa. After this, Agrippa returned to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving in the Temple, where he hung up the golden chain Gaius had given him on his accession.
From such huge territories granted to him by the emperor, Agrippa began to amass great wealth. He spent some of it fortifying the north walls of Jerusalem. Availing themselves of the corrupt policy of the Claudian era to purchase the right of fortification, the Jews now raised in time of peace such walls as were suited for war. After the capture of their city by Pompey in 63 B.C., experience and apprehension through the subsequent seventy-eight year period afterward had taught the Jews much. Since the inhabitants of the newly-built part of the city called Bezetha in the Jewish language, which, interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called New City, stood in need of protection, King Agrippa began the wall enclosing it; but he ceased when he had only laid the foundation, fearing that Claudius Caesar should suspect that so strong a wall was built as a prelude to introducing major changes in public affairs. He would have made the walls of Jerusalem impregnable had not Marsus, the governor of Syria, notified Claudius about it. Claudius, in turn, wrote Agrippa to stop, suspecting revolution. Marsus also broke up a gathering of kings whom Agrippa was entertaining at Tiberias, greatly offending the king.
Mauretania had been annexed by Caligula, and was subsequently divided into two provinces, Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis, separated by the river Malua. Pliny claims that the division was the work of Caligula, but Dio says that during the reign of Claudius in A.D. 42 an uprising took place, which was subdued by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus and Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, and the actual division only took place afterward. Details on the Mauretanian events of 39 through 44 are unclear. Cassius Dio wrote an entire chapter on the annexation of Mauretania by Caligula, but it is now lost. The first known equestrian governor of the two provinces was Marcus Fadius Celer Flavianus, in office in A.D. 44.
Now in these days, prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up, and indicated by the Spirit that there should be a great famine all over the world, and this took place in the days of Claudius. The river Euphrates was dried up and became passable. As any of the disciples had plenty, each determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea; which they also did, sending it to the Presbyters by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Now about that time, A.D. 44 King Herod stretched out his hands to oppress some of the Assembly. He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover. When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. Peter therefore was kept in the prison, but constant prayer was made by the Assembly to God for him. The same night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. Guards in front of the door kept the prison.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side, and woke him up, saying, “Stand up quickly!”
His chains fell off from his hands. The messenger said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.”
He did so. He said to him, “Put on your cloak, and follow me.”
And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went out, and went down one street, and immediately the messenger departed from him. When Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I truly know that the Lord has sent out his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from everything the Jewish people were expecting.”
Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she did not open the gate for joy, but ran in, and reported that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, “You are crazy!”
But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.”
But Peter continued knocking. When they had opened, they saw him, and were amazed. But he, beckoning to them with his hand to be silent, declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Tell these things to James, and to the brothers.”
Then he departed, and went to another place.
Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. When Herod had sought for him, and did not find him, he examined the guards, and commanded that they should be put to death. He went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.
Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus, the king’s personal aide, their friend, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day, Herod dressed himself in royal clothing, sat on the throne, and gave a speech to them. The people shouted, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”
Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Herod Agrippa the First had ruled A.D. 41 through 44. His son Herod Agrippa the Second succeeded him.
Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their service, also taking with them John who was called Mark.
Now in the Assembly that was at Antioch there were some prophets and Teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Consecrate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.”
Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus. When they were at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had also John Mark as their attendant. When they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of understanding. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fastened his eyes on him, and said, “Full of all deceit and all cunning, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is on you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sun for a season!”
Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him. He went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the Teaching of the Lord.
Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John Mark departed from them and returned to Jerusalem. But they, passing on from Perga, came to Antioch of Pisidia. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, speak.”
Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they stayed as aliens in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm, he led them out of it. For a period of about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance, for about four hundred fifty years. After these things he gave them judges up to Samuel the prophet. Afterward they asked for a king, and God gave to them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. When he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, to whom he also testified,
"From this man’s offspring, God has brought salvation to Israel according to his promise, before his coming, when John had first preached the baptism of repentance to Israel. As John was fulfilling his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. But behold, one comes after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
“Brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, the word of this salvation is sent out to you. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. Though they found no cause for death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had fulfilled all things that were written about him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and he was seen for many days by those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. We bring you good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled the same to us, their children, in that he raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm,
“Concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he has spoken thus:
“Therefore, he says also in another psalm,
“For David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was laid with his fathers, and saw decay. But he whom God raised up saw no decay. Be it known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man is proclaimed to you remission of sins, and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come on you which is spoken in the prophets:
So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
The next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, and said, “It was necessary that God’s word should be spoken to you first. Since indeed you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so has the Lord commanded us, saying,
As the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God. As many as were appointed to eternal life believed. The Lord’s word was spread abroad throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their borders, outside the city limits. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy with the Holy Spirit.
In Iconium, they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed. But the disbelieving Jews stirred up and embittered the souls of the Gentiles against the brothers. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided. Part sided with the Jews, and part with the Apostles. When some of both the Gentiles and the Jews, with their rulers, made a violent attempt to mistreat and stone them, they became aware of it, and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding region. There they preached the Good News.
At Lystra a certain man sat, impotent in his feet, unable to stand, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. He was listening to Paul speaking, who, fastening eyes on him, and seeing that he had faith to be made whole, said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!”
He leaped up and walked. When the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in the language of Lycaonia, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
They called Barnabas “Jupiter”, and Paul “Mercury”, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Jupiter, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have made a sacrifice along with the multitudes. But when the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their clothes, and sprang into the multitude, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them; who in the generations gone by allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Even saying these things, they hardly stopped the multitudes from making a sacrifice to them. But some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there, and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up, and entered into the city. For where two or more are gathered in his name, there is Jesus in the midst of them.
On the next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the Good News to that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through much tribulation we must enter into God’s Kingdom. When they had appointed Presbyters for them in every Assembly, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.
They passed through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, from where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled. When they had arrived, and had gathered the Assembly together, they reported all the things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith to the nations, to the Gentiles. This was about A.D. 44-45. They stayed there with the disciples for a long time.
In A.D. 48, Agrippina, after poisoning her second husband, helped to bring about the murder of Valeria Messalina, her predecessor as the wife of Claudius. She next incestuously became the wife of the emperor Claudius, her uncle, and persuaded him to favor Nero, her son by a previous marriage, for the succession, over the rightful claim of his own son, Britannicus, and to also marry his daughter, Octavia, to Nero.
Philo, a Hellenized Jew who lived from 20 B.C. to A.D. 50, flourished about this time. He was a Jewish philosopher and Teacher who used the Greek philosophical term Logos to mean an intermediary divine being, or demiurge. Philo accepted the Platonic concept of a distinction between imperfect matter, which is visible, and perfect Form, and accepted therefore the conclusion that intermediary beings were necessary to bridge the enormous gap between God and the material world; and he Taught that the Logos was the highest of these intermediary beings. In his writings Philo calls this intermediary "the first-born of God"; he also writes that "the Logos of the living God is the bond of everything, holding all things together and binding all the parts, and prevents them from being dissolved and separated". He asserts that the reality at the heart of Plato's concept of the Theory of Forms is located within the Logos, but that the Logos also acted on behalf of God in the physical world. In particular, Philo identifies the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament with the Logos; he also Taught that the Logos was God's instrument in the creation of the universe.
Men were seeking God, groping in the darkness of intellect, in the hope that they might feel after him and perhaps even find him.
About A.D. 50, some men came down from Judea and Taught the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small discord and discussion with them, they appointed Paul and Barnabas, and some others of them, to go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and Presbyters about this question. They, being sent on their way by the Assembly, passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles. They caused great joy to all the brothers.
Paul later testified,
When they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the Assembly and the Apostles and the Presbyters, and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
The Apostles and the Presbyters were gathered together to see about this matter. Paul wrote of this afterward to the assemblies of Galatia, saying,
When there had been much discussion, Peter rose up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the Good News, and believe. God, who knows the heart, testified about them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just like he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you test God, that you should put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”
All the multitude kept silence, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul reporting what signs and wonders God had done among the nations, the Gentiles, through them. After they were silent, James answered, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has reported how God first visited the nations, to take out of them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets. As it is written,
“Therefore my judgment is that we do not trouble those from among the Gentiles who turn to God, but that we write to them that they abstain from the pollution of idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood. For Moses from generations of old has in every city those who preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
Then it seemed good to the Apostles and the Presbyters, with the whole Assembly, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers. They wrote these things by their hand:
Paul wrote later of what followed, saying,
So, when they were sent off, they came to Antioch. Having gathered the multitude together, they delivered the Letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over the encouragement. Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers with many words, and confirmed them. After they had spent some time there, they were sent back with greetings from the brothers to the Apostles. But it seemed good to Silas to remain there, and Judas returned to the Apostles. But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, Teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. Afterward, Peter also came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
Paul later wrote,
But afterward, Paul repented that he had reproached Peter; for when he had grown in maturity, he said to those in Corinth,
He also said,
This is what Peter was doing, and Paul had rebuked him for it.
And Paul said to those in Rome,
He also said,
This is what Peter was doing, and Paul had rebuked him for it. You see how he repented.
Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, Teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
Reading time about two and a half hours.
Suetonius: Twelve Caesars: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by C. Suetonius Tranquilus; To which are added His Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets. The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D., Revised and corrected by T. Forester, Esq., A.M. (Gutenberg.org)
Archaeology and the Book of Acts John McRay, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL 60187 pdf
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ACTS AND EPISTLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT See the following articles:
"...there was a certain man, Simon by name, who used to practice sorcery in the city"
"This man is that Great Power of God."
"Thereafter avoiding the Apostles, Simon quickly fled overseas from East to West so that he could live as he pleased."
"he met an Ethiopian"
"the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians"
"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. As a lamb before his shearer is silent, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away. Who will declare His generation? For his life is taken from the earth."
"Philip opened his mouth"
"Now you have heard of Saul's way of living in time past in the Jews’ religion..."
"We understand Saul's heart according to what is written..." in Psalm 119.
"(The scriptures are not open to the understanding of fools, nor are they read by those impatient to be entertained.)"
"a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you" WEB
"They led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus."
"Brother Saul..." Acts 9:17
"you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard"
"Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins
"There, Saul, according to tradition, whether in the body, he does not know, or whether out of the body, he does not know; God knows"
"As it is written in the Deuteronomy"
"Now about this same time Tiberius Caesar died, A.D. 37, and after him Gaius Caligula was made Emperor of Rome."
"for this reason epileptics were called lunatics."
"a Phaethon for the world."
"he took away Herod's tetrarchy and added it to Agrippa's kingdom, banishing Herod."
"According to Suetonius, in the first year of Caligula's reign he squandered two billion seven hundred million sesterces that Tiberius had amassed."
"He had discovered the absolute, autocratic authority of the office of the emperor over the Senate and the people of Rome which Julius Caesar himself had long before carefully designed and cunningly disguised in official documents of Rome, which had been fully approved by the Senate in perpetuity. His reign highlighted an inherent weakness in the Augustan Principate, now openly revealed for what it was—a raw monarchy"
"Caligula had two large ships constructed for himself"
"as treasures of imperial conquest."
"Then, at this time, in A.D. 40, in Syria, after three years, during the reign of Caligula, when many days were fulfilled, the Jews conspired together to kill Saul."
"Caligula would mock Chaerea by assigning him identifying passwords with names like "Priapus" and "Venus".
"Cassius Chaerea and other guardsmen assaulted Caligula...Chaerea stabbed Caligula first, followed by a number of conspirators."
"He was buried within the Mausoleum of Augustus"
"When Saul had come to Jerusalem, when he had returned to Jerusalem..."
"He saw heaven opened...This was done three times"
"Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I perceive that God does not show favoritism"
"the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word...They of the circumcision who believed were amazed."
"Tell these things to James, and to the brothers."
"Herod Agrippa the First had ruled A.D. 41 through 44. His son Herod Agrippa the Second succeeded him."
"prophets and Teachers"
"Consecrate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them."
"Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen...a work which you will in no way believe, if one declares it to you.’
"through much tribulation we must enter into God’s Kingdom"
"About this time ... Claudius was made emperor of Rome.... He reigned for over thirteen years, A.D. 41 through 54."
"the corrupt policy of the Claudian era...they raised in time of peace such walls as were suited for war. After the capture of their city by Pompey in 63 B.C., experience and apprehension had taught the Jews much..."
"Since the inhabitants the newly-built part of the city called Bezetha...King Agrippa began the wall enclosing it; but he ceased when he had only laid the foundation, fearing..."
"Philo of Alexandria"
"All the multitude kept silence, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul reporting what signs and wonders God had done among the nations, the Gentiles, through them."
"that the rest of men may seek after the Lord; all the Gentiles who are called by my name"
"abstain...from what is strangled, and from blood."
"But it seemed good to Silas to remain there."
"When Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face, because he stood condemned."
Compare the Conservative Bible text (conservapedia.com):
Philip traveled the city of Samaria, where he preached Christ's message. There, the people had unity of mind, and listened to Philip's words, seeing the signs he showed them. Dirty spirits, wailing out, left the souls of the possessed, and many suffering from epilepsy and the disabled were healed. So the city was filled with joy.
Yet a man named Simon, who had amazed Samaria's citizens with his black magic, claimed that he was a great man. The people respected him, from the low to the high, and said, "This man is powerful through God!"
They always paid attention to him because he had amazed them with magic. Even so, they accepted Philip's preaching about the Kingdom of God, and they were baptized in Jesus Christ's name, man and woman alike! Simon also believed and was baptized. He traveled with Philip, and was amazed by the great deeds and signs he performed.
While the apostles were in Jerusalem, they heard that Samaria had heard God's word, and sent Peter and John to the city. When they arrived, they prayed the citizens would accept the Divine Guide. (As they were only baptized in Lord Jesus' name, and hadn't received the Guide yet) They placed their hands upon them and they accepted the Divine Guide.
Simon, seeing that this was how the Divine Guide was bestowed, offered to pay them. He said, "I want this power too, to be able to give anyone the Divine Guide by placing my hands."
Peter replied, "Your money will die with you, since you think God's gifts can be purchased with mere cash. You don't have a stake or part to play in this matter, since your heart is poor in God's sight. Repent for your sinfulness and pray to God that he might forgive your wicked thoughts. Because I see you are bitter and drowning in sin."
Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of what you mentioned will happen to me."
So the apostles, finished testifying and preaching the Lord's message, returned to Jerusalem and preached in the Samaritan villages.
One of God's angels said to Philip, "Get up and travel south along the road from Jerusalem to the Gaza desert."
So he got up and went, and what did he find but an Ethiopian eunuch with great authority under their queen, Candace. He was in charge of her treasury and had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning home, sitting in his chariot reading the prophet Isaiah. The Divine Guide said told Philip, "Get closer. Follow this chariot."
Philip ran toward him and heard him reading from Isaiah, and said "Do you understand that?"
The man replied, "How could I without someone to guide me?"
He motioned Philip to sit beside him. The scripture he was reading was, "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, like a dumb lamb to be sheared, his mouth closed. He was humiliated and had no justice. No one will ever mention his descendants, as he died."
The eunuch answered, "Who is the prophet talking about? Himself? Someone else?"
Philip began at the same verse and preached the message of Jesus. As they traveled, they reached a body of water. The Eunuch said, "Here's some water. Why can't I be baptized here?"
Philip replied, "If you believe with your whole heart, you can!" He answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
He halted the chariot and they went over to the water, and Philip baptized him. As they were coming out of the water, the Divine Guide transported Philip away, so the Eunuch no longer saw him, but he went along rejoicing. Philip was found in Azotus, and he kept preaching in the cities along the way to Caesarea.
You have head of my behavior in the past, as a Jew, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure, and wasted it; and I rose in the ranks of the Jewish religious establishment, above many of my equals in my own nation, because I was more zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Saul was still issuing threats and murdering Jesus' disciples, and he went to his high priest. He wanted letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that they might capture any men or women who followed this new Way and bring them to Jerusalem under arrest.
(Psalm 119 Conservative Bible has not been translated. See Conservative Bible Psalms 111-120 (Translated) Psalm 119 KJV )
He was traveling toward Damascus when a bright light from heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, why do you persecute me?"
He replied, "Who are you, Lord?"
The Lord replied, "I am the Jesus you persecute. "
Trembling and amazed, he said, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"
The Lord replied, "Get up and go to the city, and you'll be told what to do."
The men traveling with him were speechless as they could hear voice but saw no man. Saul got up from the ground. When he opened his eyes, he saw no man. They led him along to Damascus. He was blind for three days and fasted.
Ananias, a Christian disciple in Damascus, had a vision from God: "Ananias!"
He replied, "Yes, Lord?"
Lord God told him, "Get up and go into the Straight road, and ask at the house of Judas for Saul of Tarsus. He is praying, and he has had a vision of a man named Ananias entering, laying his hands, and restoring his sight."
Ananias replied, "Lord, I've heard stories about him, about the evil things he's done to your saints in Jerusalem! The chief priests gave him the power here to arrest anyone who calls on your name."
The Lord replied, "Go do it. He's a chosen messenger for me, to take my name among the Gentiles, and their leaders, and the Israelites. I will show him what great ordeals he will pass through for me."
Ananias entered the house and laid his hands on him, saying, "Brother Saul, Lord Jesus, who appeared to you along the road, has sent me to restore your sight and fill you with the Divine Guide."
Saul's sight was immediately restored as if his eyes had been scaly.
And he said, "The God of our fathers has chosen you, that you should know His will, and see that Just One, and hear the Voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, and call on the Name of the Lord."
He got up and was baptized. He ate some meat and was stronger.
But when it pleased God, who had separated me from my peers before I left the womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son to me, that I might preach His word among the heathens; immediately I abandoned with flesh and blood. I did not go up to Jerusalem to confer with those who had been apostles before me; instead, I went into Arabia,
I know a follower of Christ who ... was caught up to the third heaven (whether in the body or out of the body, I can't tell; God only knows) and I know that this man (whether in the body or out of the body, I can't tell; God only knows) was snatched up into paradise and heard unspeakable words which man is not allowed to say.
[Conservative Bible Deuteronomy 29:29 has not been translated
See Deuteronomy 26-34 (Translated) Chapter 29 KJV
and returned to Damascus.
Saul stayed with the disciples in Damascus for several days.
He immediately preached Christ's word in the temples, that he is God's Son. His listeners were amazed, "Isn't this the man who killed Christians in Jerusalem, and was coming here to haul them back to the chief priests?"
Saul grew in his faith and angered the Damascus Jews by proving Christ was Lord.
Then after three years
After a number of days, the Jews plotted to kill him.
In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damacenes in order to capture me. But Saul knew of their trap, so they waited night and day to kill him. The disciples snuck him out by night, letting him down a wall in a basket.
But I escaped his hands by being let down the wall through a window in a basket.
I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter,
Saul came to Jerusalem, and wanted to join the disciples, but they were afraid, and didn't believe he was a disciple. However, Barnabas brought him before the apostles and declared how he had seen Jesus on the road, and spoken to him, and preached with great power in Damascus in Jesus' name.
and lived with him for fifteen days. But I saw no other apostles, except James, brother of the Lord.
So he joined them in their journeys through Jerusalem.
He spoke openly the name of Lord Jesus and debated against the Grecians, though they sought to kill him.
And it happened that when I had gotten back to Jerusalem, even while I was praying in the Temple, I was in a trance,...and saw him saying to me, 'Hurry and get quickly out of Jerusalem! They won't receive your evidence concerning Me.' And I said, 'Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat those who believed in You in every synagogue.' When the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I was standing there, too, and going along with his death, and held the coats of those who killed him.'
He told me, 'Depart. I am sending you far away from here to the Gentiles.'
When the brothers heard of this, they took him to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus. After this, the churches in Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and grew stronger, always amazed by the Lord, comforted by the Divine Guide, and multiplying.
I know a follower of Christ who ... was caught up to the third heaven (whether in the body or out of the body, I can't tell; God only knows) and I know that this man (whether in the body or out of the body, I can't tell; God only knows) was snatched up into paradise and heard unspeakable words which man is not allowed to say.
Afterwards, I came into the regions of Syria, and Cilicia, and was not known by my face to the Christian churches of Judea; but they had heard, that he who persecuted us in the past now preached the faith he once destroyed. And because of me, they glorified God.
It came to pass that as Peter was traveling through all the lands, he also came down to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a certain man, Aeneas by name, who had been a bedridden chronic paralytic for eight years. Peter told him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ is making you whole. Get up and make your bed."
And he got up at once. Everyone who lived at Lydda and Saron saw him and turned to the Lord.
In Joppa there lived a certain disciple named Tabitha, whose name translates as Dorcas in Greek. This woman had earned a great reputation for good and charitable works. She happened in those days to fall sick and die. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
Because Lydda was close to Joppa, and the students of the Way had heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent to men to meet him and ask him to come to them without delay. Peter got up and went with them. When he had come, they brought him into the upper room. All the widows stood by him, weeping and showing him the coats and garments that Dorcas used to make when she was with them. But Peter ushered them all outside, and knelt down and prayed. He then turned to the body and said, "Tabitha, get up."
And she opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand, and lifted her up. Then when he had called the saints and widows, he reintroduced her to them as a living person. This became known throughout all of Joppa, and many people came to believe in the Lord.
He happened to stay for many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.
A certain man lived in Caesaria, named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian cohort. He was a devout man, and one who feared God together with his entire household. He gave a great many charitable donatives to the people, and prayed to God all the time. At about three hours after noon he saw plainly, in a vision, a Messenger of God coming to him, and saying to him, "Cornelius."
When he looked at him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, Lord?"
And he told him, "Your prayers and your charitable efforts have come up for a memorial before God. Now send some men to Joppa, and call for a man named Simon, who is surnamed Peter. He is staying with a tanner named Simon; his house is by the shore. He will tell you what you need to do."
When the Messenger who had spoken to Cornelius had left, he called two members of his household staff, and a devout soldier who was accustomed to wait on him. When he had given him the message, he sent him to Joppa.
The next day, as they were on their way, and coming close to the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray at about the noon hour. He became very hungry, and wished to eat. But while they were getting dinner ready, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open up, and a vessel come down to him, looking like a great sheet tied at the four corners, and let down to the ground. In it were all sorts of four-footed animals, wild animals, creeping things, and birds. A voice came to him, saying, "Peter, get up, kill, and eat."
Peter said, "No, Lord! I have never eaten anything common or unclean."
The voice spoke to him again, saying, "What God has made clean, don't you call common."
This sequence repeated itself three times; each time the vessel was taken back into the sky.
While Peter was puzzling with himself what this vision he had seen might mean, the delegation from Cornelius had asked after Simon's house, and were now standing in front of the gate. They called and asked whether Simon, also known as Peter, was staying there. While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Holy Spirit told him, "Look! Three men are looking for you. So get up, and go downstairs, and go with them. Don't ask questions. I have sent them."
Then Peter went down to meet the men sent to him from Cornelius, and said, "Look, I'm the man you're looking for. What is your reason for coming?"
They said, "Cornelius the centurion, who is a just man, and a man who fears God, and has an excellent reputation among the Jewish nation, was given a warning from God by a holy Messenger to send for you to come to his house, and hear you say some words to him."
He invited them to come in and stay awhile. The next day Peter went away with them, and certain brothers from Joppa went together with him. On the day after that, they crossed into Caesaria.
Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I am a man, too."
He talked with him, and went in, and found many people who had gathered together. He told them, "You realize that it is against regulations for a Jewish man to keep company or to go into the house of a Gentile. But God showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. So I came in here without protest, as soon as I was sent for. Now I ask you: why did you send for me?"
Cornelius said, "Four days ago I was fasting until this time of day. Three hours after noon I was praying in my house, and I looked and saw a man standing before me in bright clothing. He was saying, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your charitable giving has been remembered in the sight of God. So send to Joppa, and call here Simon, also known as Peter; he is staying in the house of a tanner named Simon, by the shore. When he comes, he will speak to you.' So I sent for you at once, and it is well that you have come. So now here we are, all present before God, to hear all the things that God has ordered you to tell us."
Peter opened his mouth, saying, "Truly I see that God is no Respecter of persons. In every nation, anyone who fears Him and does just works is accepted by Him. The Word that He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, This One Who is Lord of all, you know that Word, that was published throughout all of Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism that John preached: how God invested Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good deeds, and healing everyone who was devil-possessed, because God was with Him. We are [direct] witnesses of all the things that He did in the Jewish country, and in Jerusalem. They had him killed and hanged on a tree. Then God raised him up on the third day, and showed Him openly, but not to all the people, but to witnesses preselected by God, and in fact to us, for we ate and drank with Him after he had risen from the dead. He told us to preach to the people, and to testify that He is the One Who was ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testified about Him: through His name, any person who believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were hearing the Word. The circumcised ones who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out also on Gentiles. They had heard them speak in new languages, and magnify God. Then Peter said in answer, "Can any man forbid water, so that these people cannot be baptized? They have received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did."
He then ordered them to be baptized in the Name of God. They then asked him to stay with them for several days. The Apostles and the brethren in Judea heard that Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter came up to Jerusalem, the ex-Jews argued with him. They said, "You went into a house with uncircumcised men, and ate with them."
Peter gave them a complete summary of the case from the beginning, and explained it to them in chronological order: "I was in the city of Joppa praying. In a trance I saw a vision of a certain vessel coming down, like a great sheet let down from the sky by its four corners, and it came straight to me. When I fixed my eyes on it, I looked, and saw four-footed land animals, and wild animals, and creepers, and birds. I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter, kill, and eat.' So I said, 'No, Lord! Nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth!' But the voice answered me again from the sky, 'What God has made clean, don't you call common.' This happened three times, and each time everything was drawn back up into the sky. And just then, three men had already come into the house where I was staying, sent from Caesaria to me. The Spirit told me to go with them, and not to ask questions. In fact, these six brothers went with me, and we walked into the man's house. He told us that he had seen a Messenger in the house, and he had stood and told him, 'Send some men to Joppa, and call for Simon, also known as Peter. He will say some words to you, and by those words you and all your household will be saved.' So as I started to talk, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as it had on us at the beginning. Then I remembered the Word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit.' So, seeing that God gave them the same gift that he gave us, after they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to oppose God in this?"
When they heard these things, they stopped arguing, and glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles!"
Now those who had been scattered abroad with the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews only. Some of these were Cypriots and Cyrenians. When they came to Antioch, they spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and great number believed and turned to the Lord.
News of these things came to the church in Jerusalem. They sent Barnabas with a commission to go as far as Antioch. When he came, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted all of them to cling to the Lord with a heartfelt purpose. He was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. Many people were added to the Lord.
Then Barnabas left for Tarsus, looking for Paul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. It came about that they assembled themselves with the church for an entire year, and taught many people. The students of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch.
In these days, prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. A man named Agabus stood up, and signified through the Spirit that a great famine would occur throughout all the Roman world. This came to pass during the Principate of Claudius I. Then the students, each according to his ability, decided to send help to the brethren who lived in Judea. They did this, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
At about that time, King Herod Agrippa I moved his hand to do mischief to certain members of the church. He had James the brother of John executed by the sword. Because he saw that this pleased the Jews, he went further and had Peter arrested. (He did this during the Unleavened Bread Days.) When he had arrested him, he threw him into prison, and appointed four four-man squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after Passover to bring him out before the people. For that reason Peter was incarcerated, but non-stop prayer was made by the church to God for him.
When Herod would have had him brought out, that same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, chained with two chains, and the guards at the door were guarding the prison house. And amazingly, the Messenger of the Lord came on him, and a light shone within the prison. He slapped Peter on his side, and roused him, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands. The Messenger told him, "Put on a belt, and tie your sandals." He did so. Then [the Messenger] told him, "Throw your garment around you, and follow men."
He went out, and followed him, and did not realize that the thing that the Messenger was doing was real; he thought he was seeing things. When they were past the first and second cellblocks, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city. That gate opened to them all by itself, and they went out, and passed on through one street. At once the Messenger left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I know absolutely that the Lord has sent His Messenger, and has rescued me from the hand of Herod, and from everything that the Jewish people expected him to do to me."
When he had thought about it, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, where they were gathered together praying. As Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a young woman, named Rhoda, came to listen. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so glad that instead of opening the gate, she rand back in and told everybody that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They told her, "You're crazy!"
But she continued to say that it was true. Then they said, "It must be his angel."
But Peter continued to knock. When they opened the door, and saw him, they were amazed. He, motioning to them with his hand to keep quiet, narrated to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go and show these things to James, and to the brothers." He left, and went into another place.
Now when the day broke, there was no small commotion among the soldiers, as to what had become of Peter. When Herod sought for him, and did not find him, he interrogated the guards, and ordered them put to death. He then went down from Judea to Caesaria, and stayed there.
Herod was boiling-hot angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They came with one purpose to him. After they had made a friend of Blastus the king's chamberlain, they sued for peace, because their country depended on Herod's country for supplies.
On a scheduled day Herod, dressed in his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made an oration to them. The people gave a shout, saying, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man!"
At once the Messenger of the Lord struck him down, because he had not given God the glory. He was stricken with a parasitic worm disease and died. And the Word of God grew and multiplied.
Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had accomplished their mission. They took John Mark with them.
There were certain prophets and teachers at the church in Antioch, such as Barnabas, Simeon, who was also called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who was raised with King Herod, and Saul. As they served in the Holy Spirit's ministry and fasted, the Holy Spirit said "Appoint for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work for which I called them."
And they departed after they fasted, prayed, and laid their hands on them. They having been sent forth by the Holy Spirit, they went to Seleucia and sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had John as their preacher. When they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain warlock, a lying prophet, who happened to be Jewish. His name was Bar-jesus. He was with the proconsul of the country, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul was a prudent man, and he called for Barnabas and Saul and wished to hear the word of God. But Elymas the warlock (for that is how his name translates into Greek) opposed them, because he wanted to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul (who is also named Paul), filled with the Holy Spirit, turned his eyes onto him, and said, "You who are full of all treachery and unscrupulousness, you devil's spawn, you enemy of all righteousness, when are you going to stop trying to twist the right ways of the Lord? Look you: the Hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will go blind, and will not see the sun for a season."
And at once a mist and a darkness fell upon the warlock, and he went around looking for people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul, when he saw what had been done, believed, because he was amazed at the teachings of the Lord. When Paul and his entourage embarked from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, who left them, went back to Jerusalem. And when they left Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue leaders sent to them, saying, "You men and brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, you may say it now."
Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand, said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen to me. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and lifted high the people when they were living as foreigners in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm brought them out of it. He then put up with their conduct for about forty years in the desert. When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by a lottery. After that, he gave them Judges for about four hundred fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. After that, they wanted a king, and God gave them King Saul son of Kish, a man from the Tribe of Benjamin, for a forty-year span. When he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king. He also gave David a direct witness, and said, 'I have found David son of Jesse to be a man after My own heart, who shall fulfill My will.' And from this man's descendants God, according to His Promise, raised up for Israel a Savior, Jesus, when John the Baptist had first preached before His coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. As John fulfilled his role, he said, 'Whom do you think I am? I am not He. Someone is coming after Me, and I am not worthy so much as to take His shoes off!'
"Men and brothers, sons of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among you fears God, the Word of this salvation is sent to you! They who are living at Jerusalem, and their leaders, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the prophets that are read on every Sabbath day—they have fulfilled them by condemning Him. Though they found no grounds for execution in HIm, they still asked Pontius Pilate to have him executed. When they had fulfilled everything that was written about Him, they took Him down from the cross, and put Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. And he was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are His witnesses to the people.
"We declare glad tidings to you: that the Promise that was made to the fathers,...God has fulfilled that same Promise to Us, their children, because He has raised up Jesus again. And it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son; this day I have sired You.' And about His raising-up of Jesus from the dead, never again to return to corruption, He said this: 'I will give you the certain mercies of David.' And for that reason He also says in another psalm, 'You will not permit Your Holy One to see corruption.' On the one hand, David, after he had served in his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was buried with his father, and saw corruption. But He, Whom God raised up again, saw no corruption.
"Understand this, then, men and brothers, that through This Man the forgiveness of sins is preached to you. By Him all persons who believed are acquitted from all things, from which you could never be acquitted by the Law of Moses. So watch out, and make sure that this does not happen to you, that is spoken about in the prophetic writings. 'Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish! I am working a work in your days, a work that you will not believe for a moment, even if a man spells it out for you.'
When they had gone out of the synagogue, they asked that these words might also be preached to them on the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and worshipping proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas. When they spoke to them, they persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
On the next Sabbath day almost the entire city came together to hear the Word of God. But when the Jews saw these great crowds, they became jealous, and started speaking against these things that had been spoken by Paul, contradicting and hurling insults. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold, and said, "It was necessary for the Word of God to be spoken first to you. But now that you are putting it away from you, and are judging yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, we are turning to the Gentiles. The Lord gave us this instruction, saying, 'I have sent you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord. As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed. The word of the Lord was published throughout the entire region. But the Jews incited the devout and honorable women, and the leading men of the city, and raised a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their coastal areas. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium.
The students were filled with joy, and with the Holy Spirit. It came to pass in Iconium, that they both went together into the Jewish synagogue, and spoke so powerfully that a great multitude of both Jew and Greek believed. The unbelieving Jews incited the Gentiles, and influenced their minds to think evil against the brothers. So they stayed for a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, Who gave testimony to the Word of His grace, and granted that they do signs and wonders by their hands.
But the crowd in the city was split. Part of it held with the Jews, and part with the Apostles. When an attempt was made, both from the Gentiles, and from the Jews with their leaders, to insult them and stone them, they found out about it, and fled to Lystra and Derbe, two cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region, and there they preached the Gospel.
A certain man in Lystra was sitting, with paralyzed feet. He had been a cripple from his mother's womb, and had never walked. This person heard Paul speak, and when Paul looked at him steadily and realized that he had enough faith to be healed, he said with a loud voice, "Stand up on your feet."
And he leaped up and walked. When the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian dialect, "The gods have come down to us, looking like men!"
They called Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, because Paul was the chief spokesman. Then the flamen Dialis, who was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and was preparing to do sacrifice with the people. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their clothes, and ran in among the people, and cried out, "Gentlemen, why are you doing these things? We are men, too, with the same passions you have! We are preaching to you that you should turn away from these vanities to the Living God, Who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them! In times past, He permitted all nations to walk in their own ways,...But he never left himself without a witness. He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful season, and filled our hearts with food and gladness."
By saying these things they restrained the people, so that they did not sacrifice to them.
Then there came certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium. They won the people over, and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking that he was dead. But while his students were standing around him, Paul got up and came into the city. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. When they had preached the gospel in that city, and had taught many people, they came back to Lystra, and Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of their students, and encouraging them to continue in the faith, and that we must enter into the Kingdom of God through a great oppression.
When they had ordained elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on Whom they believed.
After they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. Then they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, from where they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work that they accomplished.
When they had come, and had gathered the church together, they reviewed everything that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. They stayed there for a long time with their students.
Then several men who came down from Judea started teaching the brothers, saying, "Unless you have yourselves circumcised after the fashion of Moses, you cannot be saved."
So when Paul and Barnabas had no small dispute and controversy with them, they decided that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others from among their number, should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders and lay this controversy before them. They were brought on their way by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles. They caused great joy to all the brothers.
I know a follower of Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up to the third heaven (whether in the body or out of the body, I can't tell; God only knows) and I know that this man (whether in the body or out of the body, I can't tell; God only knows) was snatched up into paradise and heard unspeakable words which man is not allowed to say.
Fourteen years later, I went to Jerusalem again with Barnabas and Titus. I went according to God's revelation, and gave them the gospel I preach to the Gentiles, but privately to those of reputation, so I wouldn't be running in vain.
When they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church, and by the apostles and elders, and they declared all the things that God had done with them. But certain believing members of the sect of the Pharisees rose up and said, "We have to circumcise them, and instruct them to keep the law of Moses."
Titus, who was with me, wasn't required to be circumcised because he was Greek. Some false brothers were secretly brought in, to spy on the freedom we have through Jesus Christ and try to capture us. We weren't held back by them for a moment, so you might always keep the truth of the gospel.
The apostles and elders came together in order to consider the case. After much debate, Peter rose up, and said to them, "Men and brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice among us, so that the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel by my mouth, and believe. God, Who knows the hearts of men, bore witness to them, and gave them the Holy Spirit, the same as he did for us. He put no difference between us and them, and made their hearts clean by faith. So why are you putting God to the test, to put a yoke on the neck of the students of God, which neither our ancestors nor we were able to bear? To the contrary, we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved, the same as they will."
Then the whole crowd kept quiet, and listened to Barnabas and Paul, who declared what miracles and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them. After they had listened quietly, James said in answer, "Men and brothers, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at first visited the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for His Name. The words of the prophets agree with this, as it stands written: 'After these things I will come back, and build once again the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and I will build its ruins again, and I will erect it,...so that the rest of mankind might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, on whom My Name is called, says the Lord, Who does all these things.' All His works are known to God since the beginning of the world. So I make this verdict: that we don't trouble those people who are turned to God from among the Gentiles. Instead, we write to them, and ask them to abstain from defilement with idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything strangled, and from eating blood. Moses originally had in every city those who preach him and read him in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, were pleased to send chosen men from among their own number to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, specifically Judas Barsabbas and Silas, ranking men among the brothers. They wrote letters by them to this effect: "From the apostles and elders and brothers, to the brothers who come from the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings: We have heard that certain men went out from us and disturbed you with words and subverted your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised, and keep the law.' We gave them no such instruction. It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,...men who have risked their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we have sent Judas and Silas, who will also tell you the same things by word of mouth. It has seemed good to us by the Holy Spirit, and to us, not to burden you any more than with these necessary things: that you abstain from eating anything sacrificed to an idol, and from eating blood, and from eating strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you can keep yourselves from these things, you will do well. Farewell."
Those who seemed important (it doesn't matter to me, because God doesn't care about men's status) didn't add anything to what I said. However, they discovered I was preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just like Peter had been charged to. (Since God brought Peter to preach to the Jews with great strength, and did the same with me to preach to the Gentiles) When James, Cephas, and John, strong like pillars, saw the grace God had given me, they joined Barnabas and me in fellowship, so we could go among the gentiles and they among the Jews. They asked that we keep the poor in mind, and I did the same.
So when they were sent away, they came to Antioch. When they had gathered the crowd together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced for the consolation that it offered. Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets as well, encouraged the brothers with many words, and strengthened them.
After they had stayed there for a while, they were allowed to go in peace from the brothers to the apostles. But Silas was pleased to stay longer. Paul also stayed in Antioch with Barnabas, teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord, with many others as well.
When Peter came to Antioch, I disagreed with him to his face, because he was wrong. Since before some men from James had come, he had eaten with Gentiles. But after they arrived, he segregated himself, avoiding the Jews. Other Jews joined him this unworthy behavior, and even Barnabas was carried away by it. When I saw they weren't living true to the Gospel, I told Peter in front of them, "If you, a Jew, live like a Gentile and not a Jew, how can you tell Gentiles to live like Jews?
"We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is not justified by legalistic actions, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Since we believe in Jesus Christ, we are justified by our faith in Christ, and not legalistic works, because no body is justified by merely observing rules. If, while we desire to be purified by Christ, we are found to be sinners, is Christ logically a preacher of sin? God forbid such thought. If I rebuild what I destroyed, I show I am a criminal. Through the law, I am dead to the law, so I can live for God. I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live. But it's not I, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live and the body I live in are from faith in God's Son, because he loves me and sacrificed himself for me. So I don't harm God's grace. If merely following rules brings righteousness, Christ died in vain."
To the Jews, I became like a Jew so that I could win over the Jews; to those who observe the Mosaic law, I lived according to the law so that I could win over those who observe. To those who don't observe the Mosaic law, I lived without it (not that I'm actually not subject to God's law, since I'm bound to the law by Christ) so that I could win over the non-observant. To the weak, I behaved as if I were weak so that I could win over the weak. I am all things to all men so that I can by all means save some.
Make sure that your conscience is clear, to the Jews, the Greeks, and to the church of God, for the same reason that I please men in all things, and do not look after my own profit, but the profit of many, so that they might be saved.
Receive him who is weak in the faith, but not for a pointless dialog. One man might believe that he may eat anything he likes. Another, who is weak, eats only herbs. He who eats everything should not despise him who does not eat—and he who does not eat should not judge him who eats. God has welcomed him. Who are you to judge another man's house servant? He stands or falls to his own master. In fact, he will be made to stand up, because God can make him stand. One man rates one day as more important than another, and another man rates every day the same. Let each man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He who regards the day, regards it to the Lord. He who does not regard the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. He who eats, eats for the Lord, because he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives for himself, and no man dies for himself. For whether we live, we live to the Lord; and whether we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this is why Christ both died, and rose up, and lived again, so that He might be Lord of the dead and of the living.
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you regard your brother as nothing? We are all going to stand in front of the tribunal of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. So let us not judge each other any longer. Instead, judge this: no man should trip his brother up, or set him up to fail. I know, and have it on the authority of the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean in and of itself. But if any man regards a thing as unclean, then it is unclean to him.
It is a good thing neither to eat meat, or drink the fruit of the vine, or anything by which your brother might stumble, or be offended, or be weakened. Do you have faith? Have it for yourself in front of God. He is happy who does not condemn himself in whatever he allows himself.
So we, who are strong, ought to sustain the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor, for his good for the purpose of building-up.
Paul also stayed in Antioch with Barnabas, teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord, with many others as well.
|Chapter 38||Bible texts|
About this time Paul wrote the following letter:
Barnabas planned to take John, who was called Mark, with them also. But Paul did not think that it was a good idea to take with them someone who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and did not go with them to do the work. Then the contention grew so sharp that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas, and went out, being commended by the brothers to the grace of God. He went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the assemblies.
He came to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess who believed; but his father was a Greek. The brothers who were at Lystra and Iconium gave a good testimony about him, about the sincere faith that is in him; which lived first in his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice. Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the Apostles and Presbyters who were at Jerusalem. The assemblies were confirmed in the faith, and increased in number daily.
When they had gone through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them. Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia standing, begging him, and saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.”
When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News to them. Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the day following to Neapolis; and from there to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city.
On the Sabbath day we went outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay.”
So she persuaded us. As we were going to prayer, a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. Following Paul and us, she cried out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!”
She was doing this for many days. But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!”
It came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men, being Jews, are agitating our city, and advocate customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”
The multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore their clothes off of them, and commanded them to be beaten with rods. When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and secured their feet in the stocks.
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were loosened. The jailer, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”
He called for lights, sprang in, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
They spoke the word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his house. He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household. He brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his household, having believed in God.
But when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, “Let those men go.”
The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come out, and go in peace.”
But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, without a trial, men who are Romans, and have cast us into prison! Do they now release us secretly? No, most certainly, but let them come themselves and bring us out!”
The sergeants reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, and they came and begged them. When they had brought them out, they asked them to depart from the city. They went out of the prison, and entered into Lydia’s house. When they had seen the brothers, they confirmed them, and departed.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ, the Anointed One, had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
Some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas, of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and not a few of the chief women. But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar. Assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them out to the people. When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and certain brothers before the rulers of the city, crying, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here also, whom Jason has received. These all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!”
The multitude and the rulers of the city were troubled when they heard these things. When they had taken security-bond from Jason and the rest, they let them go. The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea.
When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed; also of the prominent Greek women, and not a few men. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Beroea also, they came there likewise, agitating the multitudes. Then the brothers immediately sent out Paul to go as far as to the sea, and Silas and Timothy still stayed there. For Paul sent Timothy, an Apostle, his brother and God’s servant in the Good News of Christ, to confirm the Thessalonians, and to comfort them concerning their faith. But those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens. Receiving a commandment to Silas and Timothy that they should come to him very quickly, they departed. They found Timothy and Silas at Thessalonica.
Now while Paul waited for them alone at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw the city full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who met him. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also were conversing with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”
Others said, “He seems to be advocating foreign deities,” because he preached Jesus and the resurrection, in Greek, Iesus and Anastasis.
They took hold of him, and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new Teaching is, which is spoken by you? For you bring certain strange things to our ears. We want to know therefore what these things mean.”
Now all the Athenians and the strangers living there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing. Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus, and said, “You men of Athens, I perceive that you are very religious in all things. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I announce to you.
“The God who made the world and all things in it, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, neither is he served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life and breath, and all things. He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings, that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’ Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man. The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent, because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.”
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, “We want to hear you again concerning this.”
Thus Paul went out from among them. But certain men joined with him, and believed, among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. He found a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. He came to them, and because he practiced the same trade, he lived with them and worked, for by trade they were tent makers. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. When they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook out his clothing and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles!”
He departed there, and went into the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house.
About this time Paul wrote the following letter:
He lived there a year and six months, Teaching the word of God among them.
About this time Paul wrote the following letter:
Suetonius: Twelve Caesars: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by C. Suetonius Tranquilus; To which are added His Lives of the Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets. The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D., Revised and corrected by T. Forester, Esq., A.M. (Gutenberg.org)
Archaeology and the Book of Acts John McRay, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL 60187 pdf
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ACTS AND EPISTLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT See the following articles:
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ACTS AND EPISTLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT See the following articles:
MULTIPLE PROTESTANT COMMENTARIES ON WRITINGS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT(Biblehub.com)
Catholic Encyclopedia Articles on Epistles of the New Testament in chronological sequence:
Orthodox Encyclopedia Articles on Apostles who wrote Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament:
"God does not show partiality to man"
"before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed among you as crucified"
"Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them."
"Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."
"Rejoice, you barren who do not bear. Break out and shout, you that do not travail. For more are the children of the desolate than of her who has a husband."
"You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace."
"I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus branded on my body.
He went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the assemblies.
"and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts"
"who proclaim to us a way of salvation!”
"For Paul sent Timothy, an Apostle, his brother and God’s servant in the Good News of Christ, to confirm the Thessalonians, and to comfort them concerning their faith."
"Jesus and the resurrection, in Greek, Iesus and Anastasis."
"Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man."
"Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome"
"as a father does his own children"
"to confirm you, and to comfort you concerning your faith"
"no one should take advantage of and wrong a brother"
"The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever."
"when they are saying, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction will come on them"
"Abstain from every form of evil"
"the day of Christ...will not be, unless the apostasy comes first"
"Now it was about this time that Matthew first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew and committed it to writing, before he departed to preach to other nations."
The Gospel According to Matthew.
Note to the Reader:
Compare the Conservative Bible text (conservapedia.com):
From Paul, an apostle not of men, or appointed by men, but made an apostle by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;) and from all the brothers with me in the churches of Galatia: May grace and peace be upon you from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, so that he would deliver us from this present evil world, in accordance with the will of God our Father, glory be to him forever and ever. Amen.
I am positively shocked that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to the grace of Christ, and are turning to a "gospel" that is so far on the wrong side of the road, that it's not even the same road. There are some among you causing trouble, and perverting the word of Christ. If anybody preaches any "gospel" to you, other than what we have already preached to you, lat that man be cursed, even if it was me, or an angel from heaven. I will repeat that: If any man preaches any gospel other than that which you have already received, let him be accursed.
Am I trying to argue with men, or God? Or do I seek to appease men? For if I sought to appease men, I would not be a servant of Christ. I testify to you, my brothers, that the gospel which I preached was not of men. For I did not receive it from men, nor was I taught it by men, but I was taught it by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
You have head of my behavior in the past, as a Jew, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure, and wasted it; and I rose in the ranks of the Jewish religious establishment, above many of my equals in my own nation, because I was more zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who had separated me from my peers before I left the womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son to me, that I might preach His word among the heathens; immediately I abandoned with flesh and blood. I did not go up to Jerusalem to confer with those who had been apostles before me; instead, I went into Arabia, and returned to Damascus.
After three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and lived with him for fifteen days. But I saw no other apostles, except James, brother of the Lord. Now know that the things I write to you, before God, are true.
Afterwards, I came into the regions of Syria, and Cilicia, and was not known by my face to the Christian churches of Judea; but they had heard, that he who persecuted us in the past now preached the faith he once destroyed. And because of me, they glorified God.
Fourteen years later, I went to Jerusalem again with Barnabas and Titus. I went according to God's revelation, and gave them the gospel I preach to the Gentiles, but privately to those of reputation, so I wouldn't be running in vain. Titus, who was with me, wasn't required to be circumcised because he was Greek. Some false brothers were secretly brought in, to spy on the freedom we have through Jesus Christ and try to capture us. We weren't held back by them for a moment, so you might always keep the truth of the gospel. Those who seemed important (it doesn't matter to me, because God doesn't care about men's status) didn't add anything to what I said. However, they discovered I was preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just like Peter had been charged to. (Since God brought Peter to preach to the Jews with great strength, and did the same with me to preach to the Gentiles) When James, Cephas, and John, strong like pillars, saw the grace God had given me, they joined Barnabas and me in fellowship, so we could go among the gentiles and they among the Jews. They asked that we keep the poor in mind, and I did the same.
When Peter came to Antioch, I disagreed with him to his face, because he was wrong. Since before some men from James had come, he had eaten with Gentiles. But after they arrived, he segregated himself, avoiding the Jews. Other Jews joined him this unworthy behavior, and even Barnabas was carried away by it. When I saw they weren't living true to the Gospel, I told Peter in front of them, "If you, a Jew, live like a Gentile and not a Jew, how can you tell Gentiles to live like Jews? We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is not justified by legalistic actions, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Since we believe in Jesus Christ, we are justified by our faith in Christ, and not legalistic works, because no body is justified by merely observing rules."
If, while we desire to be purified by Christ, we are found to be sinners, is Christ logically a preacher of sin? God forbid such thought. If I rebuild what I destroyed, I show I am a criminal. Through the law, I am dead to the law, so I can live for God. I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live. But it's not I, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live and the body I live in are from faith in God's Son, because he loves me and sacrificed himself for me. So I don't harm God's grace. If merely following rules brings righteousness, Christ died in vain.
Foolish Galatians! Who has confused you, that you don't obey the truth. Before whose eyes was Jesus Christ crucified among you? I only need to ask you this: Have you received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing the faith? Are you so foolish? Having begin in Spirit, are you now made perfect in flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain (if it yet be in vain)? So he who teaches to you about the Divine Guide and shows signs to you, does he do it through the law or through the faith?
Abraham believed God and was called righteous for it. So know that the faithful are the children of Abraham. The scriptures, which foretold God would redeem the gentiles through faith, gave Abraham the gospel, saying, "Through you all the nations are blessed." So the faithful are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Many who live just by rules are cursed. The scriptures says, "Everyone who doesn't do everything written in the Law Book is cursed." But no man is saved by following the rules in God's eye since, "The just will live by faith." The law is not faith, but the man who follows them lives in them.
Christ has saved us from the curse of the law. It became a curse to us because the scripture says, "Anyone who hangs from a tree is cursed." Abraham's blessing comes to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. We receive the Guide's promise through faith.
Brothers, here's an example: even with a regular contract, if it's agreed to, no man can revoke it or add to it. Promises were made to Abraham and his descendants. The scriptures don't say, "to your children" in the plural, but in the singular, "to your child," which is Christ. So the law, set up four hundred thirty years after, cannot annul the covenant agreed to with God in Christ or nullify its promise. If an inheritance is law, then it's not a promise. But God gave it to Abraham as a promise. What's the point of the law then? It was added because of sins, until the Son could come to those who received the promise. It was given by mediating angels. A mediator doesn't serve only one party, but God is one.
So is the law against the promises of God? God forbid! If a law had been drawn up to give life, righteousness might have been gained through it. The scripture states all are cursed by sin, and the faithful promise of Jesus Christ is given to believers. Before there was faith, we were kept under law, ignorant of the faith which would later be revealed. So the law educated us to bring us to Christ, so we could be saved by faith. Now that that faith is come, we not longer have a teacher. Because we are all the students of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For all of you who have been baptized clothe yourselves with Christ.
No one is Jewish or Greek, enslaved or free, male or female. You are all one in Jesus CHrist. If you are Christ's, you are Abraham's descendant and heirs according to God's promise. The heir, so long as he's a child, is no less than a servant, even if he's lord over all, but is still under teachers and educators until his father says so. Just like we were enslaved to the elements when we were children. When the time finally came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to save those under the Law, so we could be adopted as His sons. Because you are sons, God has sent His Son's Spirit into your hearts, declaring "Abba, Father!" So you are no longer a servant, but a son instead, and an God's heir through Christ.
So how is it that you served those who aren't gods when you did not know God? Now that you know God, or are known by God, how can you turn back to weak and cowering people? Do you want to be enslaved again? You watch the days, months, seasons, and years. I'm worried about you. I wouldn't want to think that all my hard work on your behalf was for nothing. Brothers, I ask you earnestly, be like me. I am like you. You have not injured me at all.
You know I preached the gospel to you the first time though seriously ill. You did not despise or reject me because of my temptations, but received me like you would God's angel, or even Jesus Christ. So where's the blessedness you spoke about? I remind you that you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me if you could. Have I become your enemy by telling the truth? To be sure, they show a great interest in you, but not to your good. They really want to exclude you, to make you take an interest in them. But it is good to take always a deep and abiding interest in a good thing, and not merely when I am present with you.
My little children, for whom I am in labor pains all over again until Christ is formed within you, I would very much like to be present with you now, and to transform my voice, because I am disturbed on your account. Tell me, those of you who want to be under the Law: Do you not hear the Law? Scripture tells us that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave girl, and the other by a free woman. The slave girl's son was born after the flesh, but the free woman's son was born to keep a promise. These things are an allegory: there are two different covenants to consider. One is from Mount Sinai, and that leads to bondage, just like Hagar. This Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which stands today, and is in slavery with her children. But Jerusalem, above, is free, and she is the mother of us all.
Scripture says: "Rejoice, you sterile woman who does not have children! Break out and cry out, you that do not experience labor! The desolate have many more children than the married woman has." Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But: he who was born after the flesh, persecuted him who was born after the Spirit. It's the same today as it was then. Regardless: what does Scripture say? "Throw out the slave-girl and her son. The son of the slave-girl will not be heir with the son of the free woman." So then, brothers, we are not the children of the slave-girl; we are the children of the free woman. So stand fast in the freedom with which Christ made us free, and do not tangle yourselves up again with the yoke of slavery.
Look well: I, Paul, am telling you, that if you have been circumcised, Christ will do you no favors. Again I give evidence to every man who has been circumcised: he has an obligation to observe the entire Law. Christ has become ineffective for any of you who are justified by the Law; you have fallen from grace. We, through the Spirit, are waiting for the hope of jusitification by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; only faith counts, that works by love.
You ran well. Who held you back from obeying the Truth? This persuasion does not come from Him Who calls you. A little yeast will work its way throughout the whole lump. I am reassured on your account through the Lord, that you will never have anything else on your mind. But anyone who troubles you will suffer the consequences, whoever he might be. And I, brothers, if I were still preaching circumcision, then why do I still suffer persecution? The scandal of the Cross would then be stopped. I would rather see those people cut off who are troubling you. Because, brothers, you have been called to freedom. But don't use freedom to make allowance for the flesh, but serve one another by love.
All of the Law is fulfilled in one word, and to be more specific: You shall love your neighbor as much as yourself. But if you're going to bite and eat one another, be careful not to be consumed by one another. So I say then: Walk in the SPirit, and you will not satisfy the lust of the flesh. The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary to one another, so that you cannot do the things that you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not subject to the Law.
The works of the flesh are easy to see. They are: immoral sexual practices of all kinds, uncleanness, indecency, idolatry, drug abuse, hatred, discourse, jealousy, rage, strife, dissention, divisions, envy, murder, intoxication, revelry, and things like these. I tell you ahead of time, as I have told you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is sacrificial love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. There is no law against such things. They who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, then we should also walk in the Spirit. Let us not go after vain glory, by provoking or envying one another.
Brothers, if a man be overtaken by any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, must restore such a person in the spirit of meekness. Consider yourselves, because you might face a similar test. Carry one another's burdens, and in that way fulfill the law of Christ. If a man thinks that he is something, when he is nothing, he is only lying to himself. But let every man examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing only in himself, not in another person. For every man will carry his own burden.
He who has been taught in the world must communicate to the teacher in all good things. Do not deceive yourself. God will not be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will also reap. Anyone who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. But one who sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life from the Spirit. And let us not get tired of doing well. We will reap all in good time, if we do not give up. Therefore, to the extent of our opportunity, let us do good for all men, and especially to them who belong to the household of faith.
You can see how long a letter I have written you with my own hand. All who wish to make a fair show in the flesh, they are the ones who insist that you be circumcised, because they don't want to suffer persecution for the Cross of Christ. These circumcised men do not even keep the law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised, so that they can boast about your flesh. But may I never gain any glory, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any advantage, but only a new creature. And all who walk according to this rule, may peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God. From now on, no man will trouble me. I carry on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Some days later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go again and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the Word of the Lord, and see how they are getting along."
Barnabas resolved to take John Mark with them. Paul did not think it was a good idea to take John Mark. Mark had departed from them in Pamphylia and nad not gone with them to the work. This created an uproar between them that was so sharp that they came to a parting of the ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and left, having the recommendation of the brothers to the grace of God. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
He then came to Derbe and Lystra. A certain student was there, named Timothy. His mother was a believing Jewess, but his father was a Greek. He was held in high regard by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go out with him. He took him and circumcised him on account of the Jews who lived in those neighborhoods; they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they were going through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for them to keep, that had been decided by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. In that way the churches were established in the faith, and grew more numerous every day.
When they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia Province. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia Province, but the Spirit did not allow them to. While passing by Mysia they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and pleading with him, saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."
After he had seen the vision, we tried immediately to go into Macedonia, convinced that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. So, embarking from Troas, we sailed a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, the capital city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony. We stayed in that city several days.
On the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river bank, where prayer was accustomed to be made. We sat down and spoke to the women who often came there. A certain woman named Lydia, a dealer in Tyrian purple dye, from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, heard us. The Lord opened her heart, and she payed attention to the things that were spoken by Paul. When she and her household had been baptized, she pleaded with us, and said, "If you have thought me faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay there."
And she made that invitation most urgently.
Then it happened that as we went to prayer, a certain young woman, possessed by a spirit of divination, met us. This girl brought her masters a great profit by soothsaying. This same girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God! They are showing us the Way of salvation!"
She did this for many days. Then Paul, feeling pity for her, turned and said to the spirit, "In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!"
And he came out in that very hour.
When her masters realized that their expectation of profit was now in vain, they seized Paul and Silas, and dragged them to the town forum to the rulers. They brought them before the propraetors, saying, "These Jewish men are troubling our city exceedingly. They teach customs that are not lawful for us, as Roman, to receive or even to observe."
The crowd rose up together against them. The propraetors tore their clothes off them and ordered them flogged. When they had beaten them rather severely, they threw them into prison and ordered the warden to guard them securely. The warden, with those orders in hand, sent them to the maximum-security level and put their feet into the stocks.
At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God. The prisoners heard them. Suddenly a great earthquake struck, and shook the foundations of the prison. Immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. The prison warden, waking out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors opened, drew out his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself! For we are all here."
Then he called for a light, and rushed in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas. He brought them out of "Maximum", and said, "Gentlemen, what must I do to be saved?"
They told him, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and everyone in your house."
They spoke the Word of the Lord to him, and to everyone in his household.
He took them in the same hour of the night, and cleaned the wounds they had received from the flogging, and he and all his household were baptized at once. When he had brought them into his house, he set food before them, and rejoiced, believing in God together with his entire household. When the day broke, the propraetors sent their lictors with this order: "Release those men."
The prison warden repeated these orders to Paul: "The propraetors have sent word to release you. So leave, and go in peace."
But Paul said back to [the lictors], "They have whipped us openly without a guilty verdict—and we are Roman citizens!—and have thrown us into prison. Do they think they're going to throw us out privately? Oh, no! They can come here themselves and fetch us out."
The lictors repeated these words to the propraetors, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. They came and pleaded with them, and brought them out, and begged them to leave the city. They went out of custody, and went into Lydia's house. When they had seen the brothers, they gave them comfort, and left.
Now when they has traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where a Jewish synagogue was located. Paul, as usual, went in to them, and debated with them on three Sabbath days, arguing from Scripture, explaining and showing logically, "Christ had to suffer, and rise again from the dead, and this Jesus, Whom I preach to you, is Christ."
Some of them believed, and stayed close to Paul and Silas—as did a great crowd of devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women. But the unbelieving Jews, moved with envy, gathered to themselves certain very immoral fellows, and gathered a crowd, and incited the city to riot, and attacked the house of Jason, and tried to have them brought out before the people. When they found them out, they dragged Jason and certain brothers to the city wardens, crying, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here, too! Jason harbored these men, and they all do things contrary to the dictates of Caesar, saying that there is another king, a Man named Jesus!"
They disconcerted the people and the city wardens, when they heard these things. When they had taken a peace bond from Jason, and the other man, they released them.
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they came there, they went into the Jewish synagogue. These Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica. They received the World with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scripture every day to see whether these things were true. So on the one hand, many of them believed, along with not a few honorable men and women among the Greeks.
But on the other hand, when the Jews of Thessalonica became aware that the Word of God was being preached at Beroea, they came there also, and incited the people. At once the brothers sent Paul away, as if he were going to the sea. But Silas and Timothy still stayed there. Those who were escorting Paul brought him to Athens. Then, after receiving an instruction to Silas and Timothy to come to him as fast as they could, they left.
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he realized that the city was given completely to idolatry. So he debated in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and met them every day in the public square with those who met with him. Then certain philosophers from the Epicurean and Stoic schools encountered him. Some of them said, "What is this babbler trying to say?"
Others said, "He sounds as though he's setting forth some sort of strange demons!"
This was because he was preaching Jesus and the Resurrection to them. They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is, that you're speaking about? You are bringing certain strange things to our ears. So we want to know what these things mean."
All the Athenians and foreigners who were present were accustomed to spending their time in no other activity but either telling or hearing strange things. Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I realize that you are far too superstitious about everything. Why, as I was passing by, and looked at your devotion, I found an altar with this written on it: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Well! Whom you are worshipping in ignorance, I am delaring to you. The God Who made the world and everything in it, because He is the Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made with hands! And neither can he be worshipped with men's hands, as if He needed anything. After all, He gives everything life, and breath, and everything it needs. And he has made all the nations of men from one bloodline, to live on all the face of the earth, and has determined the pre-appointed times, and the boundaries in which they live,...so that they might seek the Lord, if they should happen to feel after Him, and find Him, though He isn't very far from every one of us. Because in Him we live, and move, and have our existence--and as some of your own poets have, furthermore, said, 'For we are also His creatures.' So in that we are God's creatures, we should never think that the Godhead is like gold or silver or stone, that can be engraved by art and man's device. God overlooked the times of this ignorance before, but now He instructs all men everywhere to repent. Because he has fixed a day, in which he will judge the world in full justice by That Man Whom he ordained. He has given assurance of this to all men, in that He raised Him from the dead."
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, on the one hand some of them mocked, but on the other, some said, "We will hear you again on this question."
So Paul went out from among them. But certain men stuck to him, and believed. Among them were Dionysus the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and some others with them.
After these events, he departed from Athens and came to Corinth. There he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently arrived from Italy with his wife Priscilla. (Claudius I had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.) He came to them, and because he and Aquila were fellow craftsmen, he stayed with them, and worked with him. They were tentmakers by trade. He debated in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Nacedonia, Paul began testifying to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. When they opposed him and started hurling insults, he shook his robes, and told them, "Let your blood be on your own heads; I am clean. From now on, I go to the Gentiles."
And he departed from there, and came into the house of a certain man named Justus, a man who worshiped God, and whose house was adjoining the synagogue. Crispus, the head rabbi of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with everyone in his household.
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians which is of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We give thanks to God for all of you, as always, and mention you in our prayers; forever remembering the work you volunteer to do out of faith and love and patience in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, as our God and Father looks on. Knowing, our beloved brothers, that God has chosen you. For the Gospel is not only words to you, but came to you with power and assurance through the Holy Spirit; as you know what kind of men we were among you, for your benefit. You became our followers and the Lord, and received the truth while suffering, with the joy of the Divine Guide. So you were examples to all the believing in Macedonia and Achaia. You spread the Lord's word in Macedonia and Achaia, and your faith in God is being spread everywhere, so we don't need to say anything. They themselves tell how you received us, and how you turned away to idols to serve the true and living God, to wait for his Son Jesus, who he raised from the dead to save us from the coming wrath, to return.
Brothers, know that our time spent among you wasn't wasted. We had suffered and were poorly treated in Philippi, but God made us speak the gospel to you courageously. Our appeal was not deceitful or immoral or sneaky. God trusted us with his word, so we speak not to please men but to please God, who is testing our hearts. You know that we never used flattery or greed, and God is our witness. We didn't want glory among men, from your or others. We might have been a nuisance, though Christ's apostles, but we were gentle with you, like a nurse cherishes her children. We loved you so much and you were so important to us that we were willing to give to you not only God's gospels but our souls.
Brothers, you remember our hard work. We worked day and night, so we would not be indebted to you, preaching the gospel of God. You saw, as God did, how holy and justly and blamelessly we behaved among you faithful believers. You know how we challenged and helped and encouraged each of you, like a father with his children, so you might walk a moral path, worthy of God, who invites you to his kingdom and glory. We also thank God endlessly that when you accepted the word of God which you heard from us, you didn't accept it as man's word, but as God's word, which creates great change in believers. Brothers, you became followers of the churches of God and Jesus Christ in Judaea, and you have been oppressed by your countrymen, just like they've been by the Jews, who killed Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and no persecute us. God is not pleased with them, and they oppose all mankind. They tell us not to talk to the Gentiles and save them. Their hearts are always full of sin, and God's wrath has come down on them.
Brothers, when we had to leave you after a short time together (but not in our hearts), we did everything we could to see you again. We, and even I, Paul, could have returned again and again, but Satan held us back. What is our hope, our joy? What makes us rejoice? Is it not that you will be in Lord Jesus Christ's presence when he returns? You are our glory and joy. We couldn't take it any more, so we decided it was best to leave Athens. We sent brother Timotheus, a minister of God and fellow volunteer in spreading Christ's word, to strengthen you and comfort you in your faith, so you might not be upset by these trials. You know we were destined for them. It's true that when we were among you, we said we should undergo trials, and you know it happened. For that reason, when I couldn't stop myself, I wrote to learn of your faith, unless some deceiver might have tempted you and destroyed our work. But Timotheus came to us and told good news of your faith and charity, that you remember us kindly, and wanted a reunion just like we did. So, brothers, we were reassured regarding you by your faith, despite our trials and worry. Now we can truly live, as you are firm in your faith to the Lord. How can we possibly thank God for you, for the joy we have in front of God thanks to you? Every day and night we pray and pray to see you again, to perfect whatever your faith is lacking. May our Father God and Lord Jesus Christ lead us to you, and may the Lord multiply your number and your love of each other and all men, just as we love you, so that he may strengthen your sinless hearts with holiness in front of our Father God at Lord Jesus Christ's second coming with his saints.
Brothers, since we've told you how to walk in life and you've listened to us, we ask and encourage you in Jesus' name to do this more and more. Because you know the commandments we gave you in Jesus' name. It is God's will and for your purification that you not engage in sexual immorality, that you should all know how to keep your body pure and honorable, not lusting like the godless Gentiles. We have warned and told you that no man should deceive his brother in any way, because the Lord will avenge it all. God has not called us to be dirty, but to be holy.
So the man who hates us, does not hate men, but hates God, who gave us the holy Divine Guide. You don't need my words about brotherly love. God has taught you to love each other. So you should love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we encourage you, brothers, to multiply and multiply, to practice calmness, to mind your own business, to work diligently, just like we charged you. That way, you can be honest with those who are dishonest, and you will not miss anything.
Brothers, I don't want you to be ignorant about those who have died, or to grieve like those without faith. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so those who died with faith in Jesus will come with God. We tell you the Lord's word, that those of us who are alive when the Lord returns will to meet him before the dead. The Lord himself will come down from heaven with the archangel's shout and God's trumpet, and the faithful dead will rise up. Then those of us still alive will be taken up with them into the clouds and meet the Lord on air. Then we will be with him forever. So comfort each other with his knowledge.
Brothers, I don't need to write to you about the day or season, because you know that the day of the Lord's return will be like a thief coming during the night. When the doubters say "it is peaceful and safe!" then destruction will suddenly meet them like the pains of a pregnant woman. They will not escape. But brothers, you are not ignorant that the day will reach you like a thief. You are children of light, the children of day. We are not from the night or darkness. So we should not sleep like the others. Let's watch soberly. The sleepers sleep at night, and the drunks are drunk at night. Let us people of the day be sober, wear the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of hope of salvation. God has not told us to be enraged, but to gain salvation through Lord Jesus Christ, who died so that we will live eternally with him, whether we be living or dead. So continue to comfort and strengthen each other.
So brothers we ask you to understand those of the Lord's leaders who work with you who correct you. Respect and love them for the sake of their work, and be at peace. And brothers we encourage you to warn the rowdy, comfort the unintelligent, strengthen the weak, and be patient with all men. Make sure no man pays back evil with evil, and always follow the right path, with each other and with all men.
Rejoice forever. Never stop praying. Be thankful to God in everything, as Jesus Christ wants you to. Don't repress the Divine Guide. Don't sneer at prophecy. Test everything, and keep the good. Never appear to do an evil thing. May our God of peace purify you. I pray to God your spirit, body, and soul will remain spotless until the return of Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful and will do as he promised.
Brothers, pray for us. And greet all brothers with a holy embrace. I ask you in the Lord's name to read this letter to all the holy brothers.
The grace of Lord Jesus Christ be with you, Amen.
Many of the Corinthians, when they heard the Word, believed and were baptized. Then the Lord spoke to Paul at night in a vision, "Don't be afraid. Speak, and don't keep quiet. I am with you, and no man may set upon you to do you harm. I have many people in this city."
He stayed there for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
From Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians, united in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace of mind to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is well for us to thank God for you, always, our brothers, for your faith grows quickly, and the charity that each of you show to each other is great. That's why we exalt you in the churches of God: for your patience and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. A tangible token of the righteous judgement of God, so that you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, which you suffer for as we do. God is just, and will bring trouble on those who trouble you, and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus will come again from heaven, with his mighty angels, will take vengeance with flaming fire upon those in denial of God, and who ignore the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ whose punishment shall be an everlasting and destructive separation from the Lord and from His glorious power; when Jesus comes again to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired among all who believe (because you believed our testimony). We will always pray for you, that God considers you among the blessed and that you will know His goodness, power and salvation. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, praise be to him, and the Holy Father. May you be blessed always.
We ask you, friends, in regards to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being with Him, do not be startled or troubled by either a spirit, a comment, or by a letter purportedly written by us, that says Christ has already returned. Don't let any man deceive you. That day won't come until there is a rebellion and the sinful man is shown for who he is, the son of destruction, who opposes and praises himself above everything worshiped or called God. He will even sit in the temple of God, calling himself God.
Don't you recall that I told you this when I was with you? You know what restrains him so he will only be revealed when the time comes. His covert lawlessness is already at work, but only while it is held back. Once He who holds it back is taken away, then the Evil will be revealed, who the Lord will destroy with his breath. He will smite his shining appearance, the man who comes to do Satan's work with great power and deceitful shows and miracles. The unrighteous will perish because of their self-deception, because they never received God's true love, which was to save them. It is for this reason that God will let them deceive themselves into believing a lie, that they will be condemned for not believing the truth, but reveled in unrighteousness. We must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the start to be saved through the purifying of the Spirit and believing the truth. He call you to him by our gospel so you could receive Lord Jesus Christ's glory. So brothers, stand firm and stick with the behavior our words and letters have taught you.
We pray Lord Jesus Christ and God our loving father, who always comforts and gives us hope of salvation, comforts your hearts and strengthen you in your good words and work.
Finally, pray for us, Brothers, that the Lord's word will direct us and be glorified in us as it is in you. That we will be protected from illogical and evil men, since not all men have faith. The Lord is faithful and will strengthen you and shield you from evil. We have confidence the Lord will touch your minds, that you are doing those things which we tell you, that the Lord steer your hearts to know the love of God and wait patiently for Christ's return.
So we charge you, brothers, in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, to leave every brother who lives immorally and against the way He gave to us. You know what your behavior should be, since we were not immoral among you. We didn't eat anyone's food for nothing but paid through our hard work, night and day, so we weren't any in your debt. Not because we didn't have the right, but to make an example of ourselves that you can follow. For we charged you when we were with you, "if any man won't work, he won't eat." We've heard there are those about you who live immorally, never working, but always interfering. We command those men in the name of Lord Jesus Christ to work diligently and earn their own keep. Brothers, do not grow tired of living well.
If any man won't obey this letter, mark that man and do not mix with him, so he will see his errors. But do not cast him as an enemy, but correct him as your brother.
The Lord of Peace always give you peace of mind. The Lord be with all of you. I add Paul's greeting, which is the sign of every letter, in my own writing:
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen."
|Chapter 39||Bible texts|
But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.”
But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If indeed it were a matter of wrong or of wicked crime, you Jews, it would be reasonable that I should bear with you; but if they are questions about words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves. For I do not want to be a judge of these matters.”
And he drove them from the judgment seat.
Then all the Greeks laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. Gallio did not care about any of these things.
Paul, having stayed after this many more days, took his leave of the brothers, and sailed from there for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. He shaved his head in Cenchreae, for he had a vow. He came to Ephesus, and he left them there; but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay with them a longer time, he declined; but taking his leave of them, and saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem, but I will return again to you if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus.
When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the Assembly, and went down to Antioch. Having spent some time there, he departed, and went through the region of Galatia, and Phrygia, in order, confirming all the disciples.
Timothy was imprisoned. They had endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. They had compassion on the prisoners, and joyfully accepted the plundering of their property, knowing that they themselves had a better possession and an abiding one. For we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls, not counting the cost.
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and Taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the Way of God more accurately. When he had determined to pass over into Achaia, the brothers encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him, saying also, "Timothy has been released. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you. Amen."
When Apollos had come into Achaia, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Now about this time, what we now call the Letter to the Hebrews was of great encouragement to those Hebrews who were persecuted for their faith in Jesus, giving them cause for confident expectation, with stern warnings of the wrathful judgment to come from God on those who turn away from Christ, on those who apostatize—warning of his condemnation of every apostate, every one who has spurned the Son of God and counted as nothing the blood with which he was sanctified to God, as if it was something unholy, merely ordinary, and common, and outraged the Spirit of grace. What he said to them he says to us:
They said to him, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
He said, “Into what then were you baptized?”
They said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Paul said, “John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. For though they were indeed true believers in John's baptism and disciples before Paul came to them, they had not believed there is a Holy Spirit and, like Apollos before them, had known nothing of baptism into Christ Jesus. Thus tongues are a sign for unbelievers, disciples who are ignorant of the fullness of the truth. They were about twelve men in all. He entered into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for a period of three months, reasoning and persuading about the things concerning God’s Kingdom. In the law it is written,
But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all those who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
God worked special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and the evil spirits went out. But some of the itinerant Jews, exorcists, took on themselves to invoke over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
There were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did this. The evil spirit answered, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” The man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived at Ephesus. Fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. Many also of those who had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. Many of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. They counted their price, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing and becoming mighty.
Having sent into Macedonia two of those who served him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
The great foreign-policy problem of the time was that of Armenia. The Armenians had long chafed under Roman rule, and in the emperor Claudius’s last years before Nero's reign a Parthian prince named Tiridates, Tiridates the First, had made himself king of Armenia with the support of its people. The Armenians had already played a role in the early history of Roman-Parthian relations. In both Crassus’s and Antony’s campaigns (ending 53 and 31 B.C., near the end of the Roman Republic in 27 B.C.), the Armenian king had a large role as a guide, and “betrayer,” as some sources state. Since the reign of Augustus Caesar, it had been Roman policy to appoint vassal kings there and so make Armenia a buffer state against Parthia and the kings of the east. An advance on Armenia from one side was often interpreted as a pretext for war by the other. Thirty-three years before, in A.D. 20, Parthian generals who conquered the regions of northern India had declared independence to form the “Indo-Parthian Kingdom.” Roman-Parthian relations had become increasingly centered on Armenia, which was geopolitically situated between the Roman Empire and Parthia, Rome’s implacable foe in the east, "the kings of the east". Throughout the remaining history of Roman-Parthian relations, Armenia would have the role of a “buffer state” between the two powers. The political turmoil in the Parthian Empire was also a significant factor, which has been attributed to the lack of open war during the early Pax Romana period; for the Parthians had also a number of problems on their other borders, and now, about A.D. 52-53, the Parthian prince Tiridates had made himself king of Armenia with the support of its people.
During the reign of Claudius, at the time of the famine, as a warning from heaven, the "river Euphrates was dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the east", making it passable.
Claudius's behavior in court varied upredictably; sometimes he was careful and keen-witted, sometimes thoughtless and hasty, sometimes entirely foolish and apparently senseless. Suetonius offers a multitude of examples. It is said that in one case, he wrote out this following verdict: "I decide in favor of the party which has told the truth." His erratic behavior brought him into widespread, open contempt. Old people said that litigants so rudely imposed on his good nature that not only would they call him to come back after he had closed the court, but they would even catch hold of the hem of his imperial toga or his feet in their attempts to detain him, and he allowed this. A Greek who became angry with him called him an old man and an idiot; and an eques, a Roman knight, falsely charged with obscene behavior with women by enemies who would stop at nothing, when he saw that Claudius entertained and admitted evidence from some common prostitutes against him, he threw a stylus and some wax record tablets in his face, badly gashing him, and cursed him as stupid and cruel. Suetonius does not say that any of these were executed.
He assumed the office of censor, the office of administrator and director of public morals, an office which had lapsed sixty years before, but he proved to be inconsistent in this also, both generally in his guiding principles and in particular decisions. An infamous seducer of girls and married women brought before him escaped conviction with only an admonition from him to restrain his passions, or at least to be more careful, saying, "Why should I concern myself with who your mistress is?" A Greek nobleman was deprived of Roman citizenship because he could not speak Latin when Claudius insisted he speak for himself in his own words. The information collected by his agents against many persons of rank proved to be inaccurate. Most of those charged with being bachelors or childless or too poor to maintain their position were in fact married, or fathers with families, or financially quite secure instead. He purchased a beautiful silver chariot offered for sale in the Sigilaria marketplace, and ordered it hacked to pieces while he watched. He showed his bloodthirstiness equally in both important and trivial matters. When it was judged necessary to extract evidence by torture, or when murderers of their own fathers were sentenced to punishment, he permitted no delay, commanding the law to take its course in his presence while he watched. He ruled that gladiatorial combatants who accidentally fell down should have their throats cut, especially the retiarii, the net fighters, whose death agony was hidden by the face shield of their helmets. He compelled one of his own attendants to enter the arena and fight in his toga. At the merest hint of danger to himself he took immediate action against his suspected enemy. Anyone who claimed to have dreamed more than once that another person had murdered him or was plotting his assassination, and pointed out to the emperor that person as the one in the dreams, he sentenced that person to death as having been certainly convicted by this evidence as proof of guilt. He built many public works, and studied Greek with great application, even writing in Greek twenty volumes of Etruscan history and eight of Carthaginian, and he added to the Latin alphabet three letters of his own invention which he insisted were most necessary; and having already written a book on the subject he met with no obstacle to their official adoption by the Senate. Several written documents containing these invented letters were afterward still found in the records of the Senate, and extant at the time of Suetonius.
The faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ having been spread among men by the Apostles and brothers, the enemy of salvation, seeking to capture the imperial city, sent Simon Magus there, the man who was previously rebuked by Peter in Samaria for seeking to purchase from the Apostles the power of laying hands on believers who had been baptized that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Thereafter avoiding the Apostles, he had quickly fled overseas from East to West so that he could live as he pleased. With the enemy assisting his sorcery, he attached to himself many in Rome and deceived them. Simon worked many magic rites during Claudius's reign, by the demons who possessed him. At Rome he was deemed to be a god, and was honored as a god with a statue erected on a site in the River Tiber between the two bridges. It carries an inscription in Latin, which many have interpreted as saying SIMONI DEO SANCTO, which means "To Simon the Holy God". Nearly all Samaritans and a few in other nations at the time of the Apostles also confessed him as the Supreme God and worshiped him. A woman named Helen, who had previously lived in a brothel at Tyre and traveled around with him, his worshipers called the First Emanation from him, his original Thought and Concept.
According to tradition, Simon took the lead in all heresies leading away from Christ, and primary among them the gnostics, who are trained in sorcery and magical arts. His original followers, while displaying the outward form of religious piety, and pretending to have the modest philosophy of the Christians which is famous among all for purity of life, turn from Christ and prostrate themselves in idolatry before pictures and images of Simon and Helen. They worship them with incense, sacrifices and libations, and their more secret rituals are so full of frenzy, madness, and degradation that it is not only impossible to commit them to writing in detail, but to even utter them with the lips and tongue to decent persons in words without causing scandal. They include the so-called "deep things of Satan", and they glory in their shame. The most disgusting and foul crime imaginable is completely surpassed by the utterly repulsive heresy of these worshipers, drenched in vice, who take advantage of the needs of weak women, burdened with sins and moved by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and are ever learning, yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.
This was the wickedness which that malignant power, the enemy of all good, and the robber of human salvation, made use of, in order to make Simon Magus the father and author of this heresy. In Rome his success was short-lived. For during the same reign of Claudius, about A.D. 53, the gracious Providence of God brought Peter also to Rome. Peter, with Mark accompanying him as he Taught the Good News of light and the Word that saves souls, having come at last to Rome, extinguished and immediately destroyed Simon's power, along with the man himself. According to tradition he fell headlong into the Tiber and drowned.
In Claudius's final years he made it abundantly clear that he had repented of marrying Agrippina and of adopting her son Nero. He declared that he wanted it known that his own son Britannicus had finally come of age because, even while still immature, he was tall enough to wear a toga, which he claimed would provide the Roman people with evidence that he was "a true-born Caesar". He soon afterward wrote his will and compelled all of the magistrates to put their seals on it as witnesses. But Agrippina, being now accused of multiple crimes by informers, as well as by her own conscience, prevented any further action by him.
In A.D. 54 Claudius was assassinated by his fourth wife Agrippina, who poisoned him and took charge of the empire for her son Nero.
Nero was the fifth Roman emperor, the stepson and heir of the emperor Claudius. Nero’s father, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, had died fourteen years before, about A.D. 40, and Nero was then brought up by his mother, Agrippina the Younger, a great-granddaughter of the emperor Augustus. After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina helped, in A.D. 48, to bring about the murder of Valeria Messalina, her predecessor as the wife of Claudius. She next incestuously became the wife of the emperor Claudius, her uncle, and persuaded him to favor Nero, her son by a previous marriage, for the succession, over the rightful claim of his own son, Britannicus, and to also marry his daughter, Octavia, to Nero. Two years later, in 50, concerning the Gentiles who believe in Christ, the Apostles and Presbyters together with the Holy Spirit and Peter and James had written their decision that they should observe no such thing as circumcision and the law of Moses, except that they should keep themselves from food offered to idols, from blood, from strangled things, and from sexual immorality. At that time Paul wrote to the Galatians and the Thessalonians, and established communities of believers throughout Greece and Asia. This was during the reign of Claudius. Peter had come to Rome. And over the next four years, ceaselessly pursuing her intrigues to bring Nero to power, Agrippina eliminated her opponents among Claudius’s palace advisers. She probably had Claudius himself poisoned in A.D. 54, to insure the succession of Nero, rather than Claudius's own son Britannicus. Claudius Caesar died after a reign of almost fourteen years, poisoned by his wife, Agrippina. Brought up in this atmosphere, Nero might well have begun to behave like a monster upon his accession as emperor in 54 but, in fact, he behaved quite otherwise. Claudius had put forty senators to death, but, between 54 and the year 62, there were no like incidents in Nero’s reign.
Nero was sixteen in the year anno domini fifty-four when news of Claudius's death was announced.
Upon the death of Claudius Agrippina at once had Nero proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard, whose prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus, was her partisan; she also immediately eliminated the powerful freedman Tiberius Claudius Narcissus, who had always opposed her aims. Nero presented himself to the Guards later the same day between the sixth and seventh hours Roman time, between noon and one o'clock, twelve and thirteen hundred hours military time, because the interpretation of ugly omens had ruled out an earlier appearance. After being acclaimed imperator on the steps of the palace, he was carried by litter to the camp of the Praetorian Guard, where he briefly addressed the troops. Then he visited the Senate House. The Senate thus had to accept a fait accompli as the will of the Roman gods. He refused only one of the many high honorific titles voted to him, because of his youth: Pater Patriae, Father of His Country. He remained there to nightfall. For the first time absolute power in the Roman Empire was vested in a mere boy, who was not yet seventeen. The testimony of contemporaries depicts Nero at this time as a handsome young man of fine presence but with soft, weak features and a restless spirit.
He began his reign by making a show of virtuous civil behavior, giving the dead Claudius a lavish funeral, at which he delivered the oration himself, and then deifying him. Afterward, as a guarantee of his virtuous intentions he promised to model his rule on the principles laid down by Augustus Caesar.
The following year, in A.D. 55, Agrippina completed her work with the poisoning of Britannicus; and some contemporaries suggest that it was Nero himself who afterward poisoned Britannicus. Most people thought both Claudius and his son Britannicus had been poisoned. Agrippina had hoped to control the government, but the Praetorian prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus, formerly her partisan, and Nero’s old tutor, the Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, though they owed their influence to Agrippina, were not content to remain her tools. They encouraged Nero to act independently of her, and this resulted in Nero growing increasingly distant in his relations with his mother.
To his credit he put an end to the practice of secret trials before the emperor and the dominance of corrupt freedmen, and he accorded more independence to the Senate. When he could not abolish some of the heavier taxes, he lowered them. He gave the people four hundred sesterces each, secured annual salaries for distinguished but impoverished senators, in some cases in the amount of five hundred thousand sesterces, and granted the Praetorian cohorts a free monthly issue of grain. Nero also inaugurated competitions in poetry, in the theatre, and in athletics as counterattractions to gladiatorial combats. He saw to it that assistance was provided to cities that had suffered disaster and, at the request of the Jewish historian Josephus, gave aid to the Jews.
Meanwhile, the imperial government had some success in the east. In response, Nero’s new government took vigorous action, appointing an able general, Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, to the command.
Again, the great foreign-policy problem of the time was Armenia. Roman-Parthian relations had become increasingly centered on Armenia, geopolitically situated between the Roman Empire and Parthia, Rome’s implacable foe in the east. Thirty-five years before, in A.D. 20, Parthian generals who conquered the regions of northern India had declared independence to form the “Indo-Parthian Kingdom.” Throughout the remaining history of Roman-Parthian relations, since the reign of Augustus, it had been Roman policy to make Armenia a buffer state against Parthia and the kings of the east by appointing vassal kings there. An advance on Armenia from one side was often interpreted as an act of war by the other. The Armenians had long chafed under Roman rule, and in the emperor Claudius’s last years before Nero's reign the Parthian prince Tiridates had made himself king of Armenia with the support of its people; the Parthians also had a number of problems on their other borders. Nero’s new government took vigorous action, appointing an able general, Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, to the command in the east.
While directing the government themselves, Burrus and Seneca had largely left Nero uncontrolled to pursue his own tastes and pleasures. Seneca urged Nero to use his autocratic powers conscientiously, but he obviously failed to harness the boy’s more generous impulses to his responsibilities. Two years after Nero's accession as emperor of Rome in 54, and about one year after Britannicus was poisoned in 55, Nero soon became infamous for his personal debaucheries and extravagances. His nocturnal rioting in the streets was a scandal as early as A.D. 56. In 56 Agrippina was forced into retirement. From that time, Burrus and Seneca were the effective rulers of the empire.
At first Nero hated signing death sentences, and the extortions of Roman tax collectors on the populace over the next two years 56-57 led him in A.D. 58 to unrealistically suggest that the customs dues should be abolished. Even later Nero was capable of conceiving grandiose plans for conquests or for the creation of public works, but for the most part he used his position simply to gratify his own personal pleasures.
Nero quickly became bored with his wife Octavia; he tried to strangle her on several occasions. He had fallen in love with Poppaea Sabina, the young wife of the senator Otho. Otho was born into a family that had held the consulship under Augustus. He had married Poppaea Sabina. But when the emperor Nero took Poppaea for his mistress in A.D. 58, Otho was sent from Rome to govern Lusitania. For 10 years Otho ruled this province with integrity.
Now about this same period, during the reign of Nero, the Roman-Parthian War of A.D. 58 to 63 began.
Up to the year A.D. 59, Nero’s biographers judiciously cite only acts of generosity and clemency on his account. His government forbade contests in the circus involving bloodshed, banned capital punishment, reduced taxes, and accorded permission to slaves to bring civil complaints against unjust or cruel masters. Nero himself pardoned writers of epigrams against him and even those who plotted against him, and secret trials were few. The law of treason was dormant: he put no senators to death.
The emergence of real brutality in Nero under the malign influence of the genius of the emperor can be fixed in the 35-month period A.D. 59 through 62 beginning with the open killing of his own mother on his orders in A.D. 59. He was led to the murder of Agrippina by her insanity and her fury at seeing her son slip out of her control. Having disposed of his mother Agrippina, Nero proceeded to murder his powerful aunt Domitia. When he found her confined to bed with severe constipation, he ordered the doctors to give her a laxative of fatal strength, and then, just before she died, he seized her property and tore up her will, thus avoiding legal complications.
Seeing that he could do what he liked without fear of censure or retribution, Nero began to give free rein to inordinate artistic pretensions. He fancied himself not only a poet but also a charioteer and lyre player, and in A.D. 59 or 60 he began to give public performances; later he appeared on the stage, and the theatre furnished him with the pretext to assume every kind of role. To the Romans these antics seemed to be scandalous breaches of civic dignity and decorum, offenses against the dignity of the people of Rome, the crime of maiestas. However, as Caligula before him had shown, the Roman constitution contained no provision allowing the Senate and the people of Rome any legal authority to charge the emperor with crime or to depose him. Nero even dreamed of abandoning the throne of Rome in order to fulfill his poetical and musical gifts, though he did not act on these immature, juvenile ambitions. God allowed Nero to expose the fraudulent superstition of the worship of the gods of Rome and the genius of the emperor, the folly of the pagan religion of the Senate and the people of Rome.
In Judea, where secular matters were going from bad to worse, the governor Felix had to capture imposters and brigands on a daily basis. When the high priest Jonathan continually urged him to improve his administration, Felix hired sicarii, "dagger-men", terrorist Assassins, to murder him. When they were not punished, the sicarii boldly attacked their enemies with hidden daggers, even in the Temple area, defiling the Temple.
An Egyptian imposter promised his followers to make the walls of Jerusalem fall down at his command. Felix attacked them on the Mount of Olives and killed four hundred, taking two hundred prisoners, although the imposter escaped.
At Caesarea, a quarrel broke out between Jews and Syrians over equal civil rights. The Jews claimed precedence because Herod had founded the city, while the Syrians asserted that the place had been Strato's Tower before Herod, without any Jew living there. When both sides started stoning each other, Felix intervened with his troops and many Jews were killed. He then sent leaders of both parties to argue their case before Nero in Rome.
By this time, Paul had preached the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum, in labors abundantly, in prisons abundantly, in stripes above measure, close to death often. Five times from the Jews he received forty stripes minus one. Three times he was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned. Three times he suffered shipwreck. He had been a night and a day in the deep. He had been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from his own countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are outside the Assembly, there is that which pressed on him daily, anxiety for all the assemblies.
Paul rejoiced at the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus from Corinth. They reported the condition of the Assembly there and delivered to him the letter the Corinthians had written to him about several matters of concern. Paul wrote the following letter:
Paul wrote the following letter:
Reading time about 3 hours 30 minutes.
Archaeology and the Book of Acts John McRay, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL 60187 pdf
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ACTS AND EPISTLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT See the following articles:
CLAUDIUS: Roman emperor
"Paul...went through the region of Galatia, and Phrygia, in order, establishing all the disciples. And Timothy was imprisoned...."
The LETTER TO THE HEBREWS.
"but in these days he has spoken to us by a Son"
"For to which of the angels did he say at any time"
"Let all the angels of God worship him."
"You will roll them up like a mantle, and they will be changed; but you are the same. Your years will not fail."
"You made him a little lower than the angels. You crowned him with glory and honor."
"I will declare your name to my brothers. Among them of the congregation I will sing your praise."
"our confidence and the glorying of our hope, our confident expectation"
"Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion"
"he again defines a certain day, today, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), “Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
"For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
"You have come to need milk, and not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil."
"leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ"
"about which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood"
"not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt ... I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"given to men to die once, and after that the judgment"
"so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for him.
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you prepared a body for me."
"By faith, we understand that the cosmos has been framed by the word of God"
"In a very little while, he who comes will come, and will not wait. But the righteous will live by faith. If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."
"Enoch was translated, so that he would not see death, and he was not found, because God translated him."
"Others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection."
"For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives."
"lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees"
"The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
"variant and strange Teachings"
"We have an altar from which those who serve the holy tabernacle have no right to eat."
"let us go to him outside the camp"
"For though they were indeed true believers in Jesus and disciples before Paul came to them, they had not believed there is a Holy Spirit and, like Apollos before them, had known nothing of baptism into Christ Jesus."
"the school of Tyrannus"
"There were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest..."
"anno domini fifty-four"
"eliminated the powerful freedman Tiberius Claudius Narcissus"
"a Parthian prince named Tiridates had made himself king of Armenia with the support of its people."
Sabina Poppaea, later the wife of Nero.
"the young wife of the senator Otho"
"the Roman-Parthian War of A.D. 58 to 63 began."
"When the high priest Jonathan continually urged him to improve his administration, Felix hired sicarii"
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, I will bring the discernment of the discerning to nothing."
"But we impart a secret and hidden mystery, the wisdom of God, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known."
"For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?"
"I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you were not yet ready."
"If anyone destroys God’s Temple, God will destroy him; for God’s Temple is holy, which You are."
"deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
"Put away the wicked man from among yourselves."
"'All things are lawful for me', but not all things are expedient. 'All things are lawful for me', but I will not be brought under the power of anything. 'Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods', but God will bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body"
"For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”; yet to us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are, and for whom we exist; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and through him we exist."
"Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forever more, that I do not cause my brother to stumble."
"our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea"
"the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God"
"'All things are lawful for me', but not all things are profitable. 'All things are lawful for me' but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own, but each one his neighbor’s good. ...if anyone says to you, 'This was offered to idols,' do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. For 'the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.'"
"the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels."
"Now there are various kinds of charisms"
"different kinds of languages ... the interpretation of languages"
"when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with."
"Therefore other languages are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to the unbelieving.... If therefore the whole Assembly is assembled together and all speak with other languages, and unlearned or unbelieving people come in, will they not say that you are crazy? "
"Why is it, brothers, that when you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a Teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation?"
"If the dead are not raised, why are they baptized for the dead?"
"Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?"
"During the reign of Claudius, at the time of the famine, as a warning from heaven, the "river Euphrates was dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the east".
"The faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ having been spread among men by the Apostles and brothers, the enemy of salvation, seeking to capture the imperial city, sent Simon Magus there..."
"the so-called 'deep things of Satan' "
"According to tradition he fell headlong into the Tiber and drowned."
"In A.D. 54 Claudius was assassinated by his fourth wife Agrippina, who poisoned him and took charge of the empire for her son Nero.
"Paul had preached the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum"
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, ... who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
"For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen..."
"the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things"