Know Your Bible Lesson 82: The Stoning of Paul


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TROUBLE IN ICONIUM (The 1st Mission Trip)

At the end of our last lesson, an angry Paul and Barnabas were shaking their sandals at the crowd in Antioch of Pisidia [pih-SIH-dee-uh], and leaving that hostile group of folks to travel east to the city of Iconium [i-CONE-ee-um].


Iconium is in the Roman province of Galatia.  This is the area which Paul was preaching in before he teamed up with Barnabas.  Back in Lesson 79, we learned about the letter of Galatians which Paul wrote to Gentile believers in this area who were getting hassled by Jews for not getting circumcised.  Now Paul is returning to this region again, and he’s eager to get more converts.  The problem is that word is already spreading in the Jewish community about how irritating Paul is.  Back in Antioch of Pisidia, Paul really insulted his fellow Jews by accusing them of rejecting Yahweh’s salvation and saying that he was giving up on them to go preach to Gentiles.  Of course this was all a bunch of guff on Paul’s part—Paul is a total bigot who loves his fellow Jews far more than he does icky Gentiles.  But Paul also has a hot temper, and when he is annoyed, he runs his mouth and ends up making comments which get him into trouble.  It’s simply unheard of for a Pharisee to publicly side with Gentiles against Jews, and the display Paul made back in Antioch of Pisidia is going to come back to haunt him. Continue reading

Know Your Bible Lesson 81: Trouble in Antioch


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JOHN MARK GOES HOME (The 1st Mission Trip)

In our last lesson, we learned how Paul, Barnabas, and Barnabas’ nephew John Mark all set off to spread the Good News that Yahweh’s promised Messiah has finally come.  This is the trip which Christian teachers refer to as Paul’s First Missionary Journey. It’s not that Paul hasn’t already been traveling about preaching to people, but this is the first trip that Luke gives a detailed description of in the book of Acts. Continue reading

Know Your Bible Lesson 80: The Wrath of Agrippa


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As we begin Acts 12, we’re in Jerusalem: a city which is ruled over by Herod Agrippa I—a zealous follower of Judaism.  Passover is rapidly approaching, and Agrippa decides that now would be a fine time to purge Jerusalem of these Jewish traitors who are exalting that blasphemous Jesus fellow who went around claiming equality with Yahweh.  How can any true Jew be a fan of that outrageous Traitor?  The Christians are teaching that Israel’s long awaited Messiah turned out to be nothing more than some unknown son of a carpenter who was quickly crucified without lifting a finger to save Israel from Roman oppression.  Well, no, zealous followers of New Testament Judaism are certainly not going to accept such a despairing message.  Yahweh promised them a hero—Jesus turned out to be a zero.  So how dare these Jewish punks say that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah?  Agrippa tells his military muscle to start hunting down any known fans of Jesus and an intense persecution begins.  John’s brother James—who was one of the original twelve—gets chopped down with a sword.  When Agrippa receives word that Jewish Jesus haters are singing his praises for launching this assault on Jewish Christians, Agrippa is pleased and he decides to keep going.  Let’s see, who else could he kill to put an end to this annoying exaltation of Jesus?  Who do these Jewish traitors view as their greatest, most influential leader?  Peter of course, so Agrippa has Peter arrested right before Passover.  This is devastating news for the Christians, and just in case any of them decide to attempt a jailbreak, Agrippa assigns sixteen soldiers to guard Peter in his cell.  Then, feeling fabulous about his progress, he takes a break to enjoy Passover, after which he plans to put Peter on trial. Continue reading

Know Your Bible Lesson 79: Tolerating Gentiles


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One of the defining marks of an Old Covenant believer is that he has been physically circumcised.  Circumcision wasn’t a choice under the Old Covenant—Yahweh commanded parents to have their sons’ foreskins removed when they were eight days old.  Males who came to the faith later on in life were also required to get circumcised.  Jewish men were further commanded to make sure that every male in their households was circumcised—even non-Jews who were not followers of Yahweh.  This means that if you were a young man who was sold as a slave to an Old Covenant believer, you were going to get circumcised, regardless of your personal beliefs.  All of these rules were given by Yahweh to Abraham and there was no room for negotiating.  Continue reading

Know Your Bible Lesson 78: Foolish Leaders & False Converts


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In our last lesson, we discussed the shocking reality that the apostle Paul was nothing more than a Christian poser.  His conversion to Christianity was simply not sincere, and we know this because of the overwhelming amount of false teachings that permeate his epistles.  From his blatant rejection of the Divinity of Christ to his gross misrepresentation of Yahweh, Paul’s letters are filled with teaching which directly counters what Jesus and Yahweh teach elsewhere in Scripture (see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ).  Because the man claims to be passing on direct revelations from Christ, there is simply no defense we can give him.  Anyone who claims that Christ told him to preach that Christ is not God is an obvious liar.  And while Paul promotes the Old Testament as “God breathed,” he constantly misquotes and contradicts passages from it.  If you want to misquote David, that’s one thing.  But preaching total reversals of what Yahweh says?  That’s inexcusable.  Continue reading

Know Your Bible Lesson 77: Debunking the Conversion of Paul


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At the beginning of our last lesson, we learned that there is one very determined Pharisee named Saul who has launched a very aggressive assault against the believers in and around Jerusalem.  This Saul is the same fellow who you know as the apostle Paul, and we’re going to refer to him as Paul from now on to minimize confusion.  Luke will continue to refer to Paul as Saul until a certain point in his letter when he’ll make the switch.

Now Paul is so effective in his manhunt that nearly all of the believers have fled from the city.  This tells us that Paul isn’t doing a half-hearted job.  He’s gathering intel.  He’s planning his moves.  He’s nailing his targets.  Continue reading

Know Your Bible Lesson 76: The God Dispensers


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While a lot of guys struggle to make it in politics, some are born with a great instinct for timing and a great talent for manipulation.  Our young Pharisee named Saul is one of the naturals.  Filled with ambition and confidence, Saul is determined to climb the ranks of Israel’s power structure.  He’s already got breeding and education on his side—now he just needs to make his mark by doing something big.  Stomping out the new Jesus movement and putting an end to this incessant talk about some blasphemer being Israel’s Messiah would be the perfect feather in Saul’s cap.  After all, he can see how frustrated and humiliated the priests feel by these resilient apostles.  And Saul is smart: he hasn’t tried to rush ahead of the Sanhedrin and steal their thunder.  But now that the high priest has stoned Stephen, Saul is clear to launch a violent assault against the Jesus followers without the Sanhedrin feeling threatened. On the contrary, they’ll love him, and they’ll see his efforts as a clear sign of his devotion to all things carnal—er, holy. Continue reading