Posts Tagged ‘Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts’

Verses 2-3: “And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.”

Today I heard a news article about a Hollywood star accepting an award and using the traditional “thank you” speech to “throw some shade” (to coin a current phrase) on a newly-elected politician. At first, I wasn’t too happy, because we had heard so much negative political news this last year, I really didn’t want to hear any more. But the Lord reminded me, that sometimes, there are people who use moments in their professions (like actors at award shows) to thank God for being with them in their lives. Both these moments, negative and positive, are part of the freedom of speech we enjoy in America. Sheepishly, I asked God’s forgiveness, for He was right, and I regretted my attitude at the time.

More than that, though, He got me to thinking regarding today’s passage. I felt God leading me to this set of verses, because it is here that we learn of Paul’s occupation…he was a tentmaker, he worked with leather. In my studies in my Bible and Holman concordance, I discovered that rabbinic teaching of the day urged religious teachers to learn a trade to help support themselves. Though Paul did depend on churches for support, he also always tried to support himself through his given trade when the opportunity presented itself. This he did here with Priscilla and Aquila, themselves tentmakers.

More than that, it points to a major principle I read about in the Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts, page 303: “there is no secular duty for a Christian; everything we take on, from changing diapers to governing a state, becomes a form of service to Christ (Col. 3: 23-25)”. This means in our daily lives, we are to serve Christ, no matter what we do. In our daily jobs, we serve Christ…we pursue excellence in our jobs to glorify Him. In our recreation and leisure time, we might be the only Jesus some people see, so we need to glorify Him in our walk and in our talk. Did Paul quit serving Christ just because he was making tents temporarily? Not at all. I think of the example of the athlete/commentator Tim Tebow; he has unashamedly stated he is a Christian, whether he is on a mission trip, praying for someone, scoring a touchdown in football, or trying out for minor league baseball. Being a Christian isn’t something we do just on Sundays. We do it every day, no matter our station in life, no matter what we do for a living. We serve Jesus whether we are a pastor or a teacher, an athlete or announcer, a homemaker or office professional…and yes, whether we are an actor or a politician (believe it or not, some of them are Christians too! And they should act like it!)

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Verses 6-7: “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.””

In the old Marvel Comics series Sub-Mariner, issue #22 was a momentous meeting between Prince Namor (the Sub-Mariner) and Dr. Strange (2 heroes who would later go on to found the super-group known as The Defenders). Dr. Strange, exiled in another dimension to escape detection on Earth, telepathically guides Namor to Boston to the house of an old friend; his mission is to find a cursed idol that would allow a demonic race known as the Undying Ones, led by the Nameless One, to enter Earth’s dimension. Once Namor finds the artifact, Dr. Strange reveals himself and defeats a disguised demon. Dr. Strange answers indignant Namor’s questions about what this is all about. In relating the history of the Undying Ones, Strange describes to Namor various groups that worshipped or allied themselves with the demons, and how there were fanatical groups dedicated to stopping them. In one panel, they showed some villagers storm a house, accusing the occupant of practicing witchcraft and being in league with the cult. Despite the homeowner’s protestations to the contrary, the mob leader simply states that “it is enough that you stand accused”. (that may not be the direct quote, but I’m having trouble finding that story in my comics collection 🙂 ).

I remember that line though: “it is enough that you stand accused”. In today’s passage, the mob is livid because they can’t find Paul and Silas, so they do the next best thing: they harassed their host, a man named Jason, and bring him along with their accusation that Paul and Silas are preaching worship to another king beside Caesar (remember, that was the similar charge Jesus Himself faced from Pilate in Luke 23:2, per the footnote in my Holman NKJV Study Bible). This way the mob could “use” the current legal system to present a “legitimate” charge against the two.

What’s interesting is that later in the verses, Jason is released after paying a security to help ensure that Paul and Silas “leave town”. In my Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts (pages 285-286), I found some background information. First, although the Jews, as a whole, despised Roman rule, they weren’t above “using the system” to get their way when it was convenient. Also, the security bond procured from Jason here was not a bond found in our current legal system (where you pay money to guarantee your presence at a legal proceeding), but instead was “insurance” that Jason would “assist” in getting Paul and Silas to leave. Though Paul and Silas would leave, the church in Thessalonica would grow and not be snuffed out.

There are days that will come when “guilt by association” might be a charge levelled at you. It makes me recall, even today, an old rhetorical question: if you were to be accused of being a Christian…would there be enough evidence to prove it?

Something to think about.

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Verse 29: “that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these you will do well. Farewell.”

In the movie Captain America: Civil War, Captain America (Steve Rogers) is wrangling with the decision being forced on his team, the Avengers, about accepting oversight from a governing body. Iron Man (Tony Stark) and several others are for it, but Cap and several others feel it will take away freedom to act if there is a need to. While debating this, Steve’s WWII love interest, Peggy Carter, has passed away (she had aged normally while Cap was in suspended animation). Upon attending her funeral as a pallbearer, the eulogy is given by his apartment neighbor, Sharon Carter, whom Steve discovers was really Peggy’s niece! In the words of her eulogy, including advice from Peggy, Steve decides which side he’ll stand on. Sharon stated the following eulogy (copied from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Captain_America:_Civil_War#Sharon_Carter/Agent_13)

Sharon: “Margaret Carter was known to most as the founder of SHIELD, but I just know her as Aunt Peggy. She had a photograph in her office: Aunt Peggy standing next to JFK. As a kid that was pretty cool, but it was a lot to live up to, which is why I never told anyone we were related. I asked her once how she managed to master diplomacy and espionage at a time when no one wanted to see a woman succeed at either. And she said, “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, you move’.”

Compromise and hold firm. The convention was ending with a decision by James and the elders to offer some guidance to the new Gentile converts. The “hold firm” part was the fact that salvation was for both Jew and Gentile; that was not going to change. The “compromise” part was probably a bit of what I would modernly call “discipleship training”. My copy of Holman’s New Testament Commentary on Acts, page 251, summed it up thusly: “We might parallel this to rules in the student handbook at a Christian college.” The Gentiles had formerly worshipped in pagan temples using pagan practices. James and the elders wrote them a letter to outline a few points of things to avoid that would offend Jews, and thus help pave the way for joint worship (they also used the letter to encourage the new converts). Again, quoting from page 251: “Perhaps it would be useful to sum up these four regulations in our modern understanding: no idolatry, no immorality, no murder, and not eating meat offered to idols.”

By sending the letter with Jerusalem representatives Judas and Silas to encourage and to continue teaching, the convention was all but finished with what could have been a very divisive issue. When God is in charge and Christians turn to God for guidance, all the issues, big or small, get taken care of.

Just a little more to come!

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Verses 4-6: “But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.”

Sometimes, you can read something that just reaches out and “grabs” your attention. In this passage, I found such a paragraph in my Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts, page 232. The paragraph regards versus 6-7 of Acts 14:

“The pilgrim and stranger motif throughout the New Testament begins to take incarnate form in these missionaries, now driven out of the second city on this trip. Rejected disciples who proclaimed a rejected Lord represented the New Testament standard. They stand in refreshing stark contrast to the contemporary prosperity gospel in which Christianity wants to be popular, large, influential, and wealthy. No kingdom politics or civil religion here, just the basic gospel proclaimed wherever people will listen.”

Paul and Barnabas didn’t give up and go home. They got up and went…to the next town!

Are you still going at it, fellow Christian?

Something to think about.

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Verse 13: “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.”

When I was younger, I used to enjoy watching pro wrestling on TV with my father and with my brother. Now, of course, being an impressionable youth (read: naïve!), I thought the action was real, as well as all the bouts were unscripted. I’d follow along with the “story” that a bad guy had turned into a good guy, had teamed up with the good guy to take on opponents, only for the former bad guy to treacherously revert to being bad again in a match, bushwhacking the “unsuspecting” good guy. I thought that the bad guy had really repented of his “evil” ways and had become good. After all, his coming over to the good side seemed so “genuine”. Yes, I was naïve as a boy. 🙂

Here we have Philip in Samaria, preaching and spreading the Gospel. A magician of some renown named Simon began to see the miracles that Philip was performing in the name of Jesus Christ; what’s more, he heard the Good News that Philip preached. He too, “believed” and supposedly became a convert and “continued with Philip”. I was reminded of something that is best stated in my New Testament commentary: quoting the Holman New Testament Commentary on Acts, page 122: “Remember that the word believe does not always mean saving faith in the New Testament (John 2:23-25; Jas. 2:19).” The verse in James is just what came to my mind, when James speaks of some believing in God…James reminds them “good for you! The demons believe in God, too…and they tremble!” We’ll see Simon’s true colors when Peter and John come to town in the next verses.

Make sure you’re not a “bandwagon” fan, jumping to the side of the winning team just because all seams popular and happy. Make sure your belief…is genuine and for the right reasons. Remember…others are watching, so let others see Jesus in you!

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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