Paul’s Activities and Teachings Recorded in the Book of Acts

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Does Paul teach that the Law of Moses was done away with?

I worked backwards from the last chapter!

Acts 28:30,31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

To whom was he speaking and what did he say? Acts 28:17 …after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem…vs 20…because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. These Jews had heard nothing against him and asked to hear more about the sect (as they put it) that was being spoken against everywhere. Many came to listen on the appointed day.  vs 23…to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. Their response was mixed. He quoted Is 6:9,10 to them which ends with…lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed. He said he was taking the message to the Gentiles.

Acts 27:9 indicated Paul was keeping track of the Day of Atonement, even when he was a prisoner on a ship heading for Rome. He survived a shipwreck.

Acts 26 records Paul’s speech to King Agrippa who was familiar with all the customs and questions among the Jews. Paul explains his background which was well known…after the straightest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee…, and he mentions the hope of the promise made to the twelve tribes. Paul recounts his experience on the road to Damascus in which a voice spoke to him in Hebrew, identifying itself as Jesus whom he had been persecuting. He was told to take the message to the Gentiles vs 18…To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Paul said he followed his instructions and spoke to the Jews everywhere and then the Gentiles, telling them both to repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. He explained that because of this message the Jews in Jerusalem tried to kill him. Summing up he said vs 22,23…I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did sayshould come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. He asked King Agrippa if he believed the prophets. vs 31 King Agrippa thought Paul had done nothing worthy of death or of bonds (and the king knew the Jewish law well!) King Agrippa here uses the word “Christian” to describe the sect.

Acts 25 Previous to standing before King Agrippa, Paul was brought before Festus. While in Jerusalem the high priest and the chief of the Jews had informed him against Paul and had hoped to waylay Paul and kill him. Festus wanted to hear Paul’s case in Caesarea and invited them to go there with him and accuse him there of any wickedness. vs 7,8… And when he (Paul) was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. (Note that they had many years in which to collect evidence and witnesses to prove their accusations. All they had to do was catch him doing something like working on the Sabbath or teaching people to break the laws of Moses in any way.) While he answered for himself, neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all.  vs 10…to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. Festus could find nothing in the evidence they presented that warranted death and Paul ended up travelling to Rome so that Caesar could hear his case.

Acts 24 In this chapter Paul explains and defends himself before the governor Felix in Caesarea. A specially hired orator put forward the accusation that Paul was vs 5,6…a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ring-leader of the sect of the Nazarenes: Who hath also gone about to profane the temple. vs 9 The Jews claimed this was true. Paul spoke for himself to the governor. vs 12-21… And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I now confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets. And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. Paul noted that he had brought alms to his nation and offerings and was found quietly purified in the temple without a crowd of followers. Paul challenges them to find any evil doing in him. Felix held him for two years hoping for a bribe.

Acts 23 The Roman chief captain set Paul before the Jewish council, who were calling for his death, to hear their claims. Paul saw the council and said Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. When the high priest commanded him to be struck he rebuked him with the law, and quoted the law. He used the divisions in doctrine between the Pharisees and Sadducees to set them to disputing between themselves. The Pharisees defended his right to believe in the resurrection of the dead against the Sadducees who didn’t believe in life after death. In the ensuing heated debate, the Pharisees even declared vs 9…we find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. The chief captain had to intervene. Paul’s sister’s son overheard a murder plot and Paul was taken to more secure keeping in Caesarea.

Acts 22 Paul spoke to the Jewish crowd in Hebrew and went over his background and testimony. He mentioned that he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, and was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God. He persecuted this way unto death, and then had the vision and heard the voice from Heaven. He mentions Ananias, a devout man according to the law. The crowds were listening to how he had treated followers of the way and had agreed with Stephen’s stoning, but when he mentioned taking the message to the Gentiles, they erupted with violence.

Acts 21 seems to be clear about Paul’s beliefs, teachings and practices. Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost (20:16), even when others in the group attempted to dissuade him. It is one of the three feasts Jewish men are required to attend the temple with an offering. Following his arrival in Jerusalem, he reported in to James and all the elders about what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. They glorified the Lord, but warned him that the Jewish believers that were zealous of the law had been upset with false reports. vs 21…And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. James and the elders had a solution to the rumors. vs 23-25…Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing (my note: this seems to be referring to the issue of circumcision for Gentile believers), save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Paul agreed and did as suggested. However, at the end of the seven days of purification, the Jews from Asia assumed he was bringing Gentiles into the temple and started a riot and tried to kill him. The temple guard intervened.

Acts 20 On his final trip to Jerusalem, Paul left Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread and stayed in Troas seven days. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost. vs 7 And upon the first day of the week (note that this begins at sundown Saturday), when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. A young man fell from a window as he slept and Paul restored him. He ate and continued preaching until morning, when the group left, and Paul walked all day and met the ship at Assos. He met with the Ephesian believers for a final word vs 27,28…For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God…to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood… and a warning to them vs 29,30…For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them?

Acts 19 At Ephesus, Paul baptized the believers in water and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. He then went into the synagogue for three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. When many who had hard hearts spoke evil of that way he left, and separated the disciples from them, and disputed daily in the school of Tyrannus for two years. Everyone in Asia had exposure to the message. Powerful miracles took place. Ephesus had Jewish exorcists and people who used curious arts and they were challenged and many burned their books. Paul knew he must go to Jerusalem and then to Rome. He sent for Timothy and Erastus. vs 23 …there arose no small stir about that way….when the silversmith stirred up the city, and Paul decided to leave.

Acts 18 tells of Corinth and Aquila and Priscilla, the tent makers, who had come from Rome when Claudius commanded all Jews to depart. Paul stayed with them and also made tents for a living. vs 4… And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Silas and Timothy joined him. When the Jews of the synagogue opposed him he said …Your blood be upon your own heads: I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. The chief ruler of the synagogue believed and was baptized. Paul continued there for one and a half years. The Jews took Paul before the court trying to say he was persuading men to worship God contrary to the law. It was thrown out because it was not a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness vs 15…but of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. After this Aquila and Priscilla left with him for Syria, and he shaved his head for he had a vow. He stopped briefly at Ephesus vs 21 but wanted to get to Jerusalem for the Feast. He went to Caesarea, Antioch, Galatia and Phrygia. Meanwhile Apolos also preached mightily at Ephesus and showed from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 17 begins with Paul arriving at Thessalonica where there was a synagogue. vs 2…And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures. He had two main points. Firstly…that Christ must need have suffered, and risen from the dead, and secondly…that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. The Jews that did not believe this message stirred up trouble in the city and Paul left for Berea. vs 11…These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Paul then went to Athens. Again he went first to the synagogue and disputed with the Jews and the devout people, and in the marketplace. The Greek philosophers wanted him to speak to them also. Paul spoke from Mars Hill about the Unknown God. He first told them that God was the creator of all things, and all men, and didn’t need a temple. That they should seek him and repent for there would be a judgment. Jesus would be that Judge and had risen from the dead. Some believed.

Acts 16 Paul takes Silas and they go to Derbe and Lystra where Timothy lived. Timothy had a Jewish mother and a Greek father and had never been circumcised so Paul had him circumcised because it was public knowledge to the Jews in that area. Paul was delivering the apostles and elders decree from Jerusalem concerning the basic requirements for Gentile believers. Being led by the Spirit, Paul continued travelling until he arrived at Philippi. On the Sabbath they went to a riverside where people prayed and met Lydia. She was baptized, and her household. Casting out a spirit of divination resulted in Paul and Silas being beaten and thrown in prison, but an earthquake released them and the jailer’s whole family believed in God.

Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas (a Levite 4:36) disputed with certain Judeans over the question Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. They took the question before the Jerusalem council of apostles and elders. Some Pharisees who had believed said that it was necessary that Gentiles were circumcised and commanded to keep the Law of Moses. Peter told of his earlier experience when God had baptized the Gentiles with the Holy Spirit even though they were uncircumcised. He called circumcision for adults an unbearable yoke. Paul and Silas told of God’s works among the Gentiles. James summed it up, quoting scripture. A decision was reached to not require circumcision for salvationFour commands from the law were decided on as a basis for new believers, and the fact that Moses was read in the synagogues every Sabbath noted. They distributed this document widely across the believing world. Paul and Silas took copies back to Antioch.

Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas spoke in the synagogue at Iconium and many Jews and Greeks believed. In Lystra and Derbe a lame man was healed. When they were mistaken for gods Paul hurriedly told them much as he later told the Athenians. Jews from Antioch and Iconium who were opposed to Paul’s message had him stoned and left for dead. He rose up however, and continued travelling and preaching the Gospel, returning through the same cities in which he had had such strong opposition. There they ordained elders and encouraged them in the faith. They had much to report when they returned to Antioch.

Acts13 Paul and Barnabas are called to a special work. Sailing to Cyprus they preached in the synagogues. They encountered a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet. Elymas was struck with blindness and the deputy of the country believed. Travelling to Antioch in Pesidia they went into the synagogue and were asked to speak following the reading of the law and the prophetsMany God-fearers were listening. Paul spoke of the history of Israel and the promise given to David of a Savior. He mentioned John preparing the way and the Jews in Jerusalem, who did not know God or hear the prophets, fulfilling prophesy and having him slain. He told how he was buried and rose again as the scripture said. His final statement was…that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses. The Gentiles were particularly interested in the message and requested he speak next week. Many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God (note they were already in the grace of God). Next Sabbath a huge crowd of Gentiles from the city gathered to hear more but the Jews were envious and contradicted Paul and blasphemed. Paul said he was going to the Gentiles with the message and quoted scripture. vs 47,48…I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Acts 12 is mostly about Peter being set free from prison during the days of Unleavened Bread and following James’ martyrdom. Herod was eaten up with worms because he didn’t give God the glory but accepted the peoples’ worship. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) took John Mark back to Antioch with them.

Acts 10 and 11 should be read together. Paul is mentioned at the end of this account. A Roman centurion, Cornelius, who followed God’s laws but was still uncircumcised, was told in a vision to request Peter to come to his house and tell him more. Peter has the vision about the animals in the sheet and vs 28 gives the interpretation…God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean, and he went to Cornelius’ house. The Holy Spirit fell on the uncircumcised people as he had on the circumcised, and they were baptized. Peter told the apostles and elders in Jerusalem what had happened and those of the circumcision (i.e. those remaining Pharisees after their believing in Jesus) held their peace, and God was glorified for bringing salvation to the Gentiles. The Gospel was preached at Antioch to the Greek community and many believed, so Barnabas was sent to establish them in the faith. Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought back Saul (Paul) to help. The disciples were first referred to as Christians at Antioch. The believers at Antioch were quick to gather drought relief and send it to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Saul (Paul).

Acts 9 is the story of how Saul’s (Paul’s) spiritual blindness was removed and he was given a special task. Saul was threatening and slaughtering the followers of the way and was going to Damascus with a letter from the High Priest. A heavenly voice spoke to him, identifying itself as Jesus and Saul was physically blinded. For three days he fasted and prayed, until Ananias put his hands on him and prayed. The Lord said vs 15…for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. He immediately began to preach that Jesus was the Christ. The believers in Jerusalem were skeptical until Barnabas introduced him. Through Peter, a paralyzed man was healed and a dead woman brought back to life.

Acts 8:1 And Saul (Paul) was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. This chapter covers the persecution and scattering of the believers at Jerusalem. Saul sent many to prison during this time. Phillip went to Samaria where many believed and were baptized. Simon the sorcerer believed and then tried to buy the Holy Spirit’s ability and was rebuked by Peter. Phillip met the Ethiopian eunuch who had been to Jerusalem to worship, explained Isaiah’s prophesies, baptized him and was caught away by the Spirit.

Acts 7 Stephen explains through the history of his people how God raised up Moses to be the deliverer of Israel, gave him a promise of another great prophet who they must hear and lively oracles for them to obey. How instead they worshipped Moleck and the star of Remphan.  Stephen spoke of David and Solomon and the temple. He accused them ofrejecting the prophet’s message and not keeping the law.  He finally had a vision of heaven and said vs 56… Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Paul was a consenting witness to Stephen’s stoning by the High Priest and the council. This is the first mention of Paul in the Book of Acts. 

My conclusion about Paul’s message and example as the Book of Acts portrays them?

The Book of Acts clearly shows that Paul always taught from the Law of Moses. It shows he was hounded by false accusers who could not find two witnesses to prove he broke the Torah or taught contrary to it. His testimony was always…Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all (25:8). Was he the greatest liar and fraudster that ever lived, or was this the truth? Did he claim one thing when on trial and another in private, or did he preach that the law had not passed away and all believers should walk in it, Jew and Gentile alike?

Shalom!

Elvira M White

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets. Acts 24:14

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