Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triomphe

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 20, Acts 13-14

Today's readings are Acts 13-14. Tomorrow's are Jas 1-5.

Paul's first missionary journey is detailed in Acts13;



Acts 11:9 tells us about Paul being "filled with the Spirit". We saw this phrase used in describing Peter in 4:8 and the other Apostles in 2:4. This may be interpreted to mean they were particularly inspired in their speech. It may mean that they are supernaturally enabled to speak boldly and accurately. Luke uses this phrase, most frequently to denote an "empowering gift of God's creative or prophetic presence" as it says in the Anchor-Yale Bible Commentary. But we also see the phrase used in 9:17, describing Paul and his conversion. It appears again in 13:52, describing the disciples as being filled with "joy and with the Holy Spirit." None of these should be taken to mean that there are times when anyone has more of the Spirit than others, just times when some folks are more inspired. There is no evidence in the Bible that some believers have the Spirit while some don't. Neither is there evidence that some have more of the Spirit than others. The Scriptures tell us the Spirit dwells in us if we are believers (ex. Jn 14:17). It does not say "Some of the Spirit dwells in us" nor "Some of us have the Spirit and others are waiting for it." In our union with Christ (Jn 17) we become one with Him. That makes us one with the Spirit, all of Him, all the time.

Reading Acts 13:9 in context, we can see a contrast between Paul and Elymas, the magician.  Elymas is described, in Acts 13:10, as being "full of all deceit and villainy." Paul is described as being "filled with the Spirit" in vs 9. Luke is describing the tension between Paul, who is godly and Elymas, who is not. One of the overarching themes in Acts is the constant tension between godly and evil forces. There are those who would like to use verses like this to support the notion that some are "spirit-filled" while others are not. Scripture does not support any doctrine that divides the body into "haves" and "have-nots" regarding the Holy Spirit.

That tension between evil and good escalates in Acts 14, where the gospel is met with belief in many cases but severe opposition in others. Paul is actually stoned and near death but undeterred in 14:19-20. The church is expanding very rapidly but suffering great persecution at the same time. Here we see another biblical pattern. God's people grow and develop under persecution and oppression. They languish and struggle, losing their focus on Him when times are good.

Just as we saw repeatedly in the Old Testament, God uses oppression to strengthen His people.

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