Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bible Study on Acts 12:20 - 13:12

The following are the notes from a Bible study I conducted tonight:

Opening Praise

Psalm 73A: 1-4 & 13-20 (Maryton 18)


· 12:20-24 Herod’s Blasphemy Punished

Herod goes on an official visit to Tyre and Sidon to receive their submission

He is deified by the people.

He doesn’t give glory to God.

The blasphemous slaughterer of James the Apostle and persecutor of Christ’s Body is judged by God.

· 12:25 – 13:3 Barnabas and Paul Sent to be Missionaries

Barnabas and Paul return to Antioch from Jerusalem with Mark, after providing relief to the Judean Church from Antioch (Acts 11:27-30).

Barnabas and Paul are set aside by the Holy Spirit to the work of mission.

· 13:4-12 Mission to Cyprus

Barnabas and Paul are obedient to God’s call leave from Seleucia, a port just 16 miles west of Antioch and close to Cyprus.

They preach the Gospel in Cyprus in the synagogue.

They preach from Salamis in the east to Paphos in the west.

They have an audience with the Proconsul, Sergius Paulus.

Elymas, or Bar-Jesus, a false, Jewish prophet and sorcerer opposes them.

Paul by the Holy Spirit rebukes him and pronounces God’s judgment of blindness on him.

The Proconsul believes.

Analysis and Lessons

We’ll analyse each section in turn, discussing lessons and difficulties as they arise.

Herod’s Blasphemy Punished (12:20-24)


20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.

21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. 22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.


“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (3rd Commandment)

· We may not receive deification from others, but are we proud?

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18)

“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.” (1 Sam. 2:3)

“You rebuke the proud—the cursed, who stray from your commandments.” (Psa. 119:21)

Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.” (Psa. 138:6)

The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.” (Prov. 15:25)

“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4)

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Pet. 5:5; cf. Jam. 4:6)

· We ought to give glory to God when praised.

· Those who have positions of respect especially ought to beware of pride.

· Since the beginning Satan has fooled men into thinking they can be as God.

Men are always seeking to exceed the boundaries of their position.

God has given various spheres of authority and within those spheres certain positions with certain limits.

Let us learn what our duty is and how far our authority goes that we might keep the 5th Commandment.

Only God’s power is unlimited.

· God is to be feared. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psa. 111:10; Prov. 3:11; 9:10)

· God’s Word will grow and multiply despite the persecution of man.

· We ought not to be worried when wicked men prosper, even those who persecute the Church.

Herod had killed James and had probably imprisoned Peter to do the same to him as well.

This would have tried the people of God, who would have wondered how God could endure this.

I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked… his people… say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?’… Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely you set them in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction.” (Psa. 73:3,10,11,17,18)

· We ought to remember that God’s angels are at work in this world. Peter was delivered from prison by an angel and Herod was slain by one.

· God most aptly punished this haughty man by destroying him by the ignominious death of worms, which lasted immediately from the time of his acceptance of deification until his death 5 days later.


· This Herod was Agrippa I. He had three children: Agrippa II and Bernice, who met Paul with Festus; and Drusilla, who married Felix.

· Josephus gives an account of what happened to Herod in his Antiquities of the Jews 19:343-350:

Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honour of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good,) that he was a god; and they added, "Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature." Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, "I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner." When he said this, his pain was become violent. Accordingly he was carried into the palace, and the rumour went abroad every where, that he would certainly die in a little time. But the multitude presently sat in sackcloth, with their wives and children, after the law of their country, and besought God for the king's recovery. All places were also full of mourning and lamentation. Now the king rested in a high chamber, and as he saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, he could not himself forbear weeping. And when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, being in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign.


· Ask if anyone has difficulties.

Barnabas and Paul Sent to be Missionaries (12:25 – 13:3)

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.


· It is important that the Gospel is spread abroad by means of mission work. It is not enough that it is preached at home.

· The call to the preaching of the Word, etc., is not through a direct revelation as it was here.

· We should show respect to preachers for they are separated onto God in a special way.

· Barnabas was a native of Cyprus and Paul was from Asia Minor.

They were culturally prepared for the areas where they would minister.

They both had experience in ministry to both Jews and Gentiles.

Therefore they were ideal candidates for the work.

· Manaen was brought up with the wicked Herod the Tetrarch, or Antipas.

God can call his prophets even from those brought up with the most wicked of men.

We must be prepared to give up honour and privilege for the sake of Christ, even as Manaen and Moses did.

· This city was greatly blessed with many gifted teachers and so could spare the men for mission work. Those churches that are have much have a greater responsibility to consider those who are in need, and esp. in this case in regards to teachers and preachers.

· Fasting can be seen throughout Acts associated with momentous events and prayer. It is not a practice of the OT only. They were fasting, probably as part of a solemn time of prayer, when God called Paul and Barnabas, but they also fasted and prayed when they sent them out.

· We must pray for those who are sent out by God to preach the Gospel.

· Here we have again the solemn laying on of hands in commissioning and ordination. This is not only a solemn separating, but also a blessing from God.

Although it is God that calls men to various offices, nevertheless the Church must signify their submission to this by the outward ceremony of ordination.

· Modern man is quick to despise rituals and symbols, but the Spirit of God does not speak in vain. Where he has shown us certain rituals, e.g. laying on of hands, kneeling and other postures in prayer, we ought to submit to His sovereignty and infinite wisdom.

· Do we minister to the Lord where God has called us? We mainly minister to the Lord through ministering to other people.


· Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea.

The son of Herod the Great, the murderer of Bethlehem’s sons.

The Herod who reigned during the ministry of Jesus.

Married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, who happened also to be his niece.

He murdered John the Baptist in response to Salome’s request.

· Some scholars think that Lucius of Cyrene was another name for Luke.

· Others think that Simon called Niger was Simon of Cyrene, who was an African, and father of Alexander and Rufus, two members of the Church of Rome.


· Ask if anyone has difficulties.

Mission to Cyprus (13:4-12)

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.


· They were obedient to the will of God, despite the inconvenience of having to leave home and travel over long distances, enduring much hardship.

· They started their ministry at the place nearest to where they were and worked outwards. This provided for greater support for the work. It was also an efficient and systematic way of working.

· God prepared the way for the Gospel by establishing Jewish communities throughout the Mediterranean world.

· Their preaching witness made an impact in the community so that even the authorities were aware of it. This is a challenge to preachers of the Gospel.

· We must expect people to oppose our witness to the truth.

· We must not be shocked if people pervert the right ways of the Lord which we speak.

· Although Paul is especially inspired to rebuke Elymas, all preachers and elders have a special authority to rebuke (1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Tit. 1:13; 2:15), which can be seen from the example of preachers throughout the Bible.

They are heralds of the King of the Universe.

This is especially, but exclusively, the case within the Church.

They must not shy away from opposing error, but must deal with each person according to their circumstance (Matt. 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; John 4; 1 Tim. 5:1; 2 Tim. 2:24).

Many men might condemn an elder in the modern church for words of rebuke like Paul’s, but this was inspired by God and justified by Him. Therefore we ought not to condemn the righteous rebuke of godly men.

There is a righteous anger: “…zeal for your house has eaten me up” (Psa. 69:9; cf. John 2:17)

· Elymas was a Jew, but yet he opposed the truth, pretending to be the mouthpiece of God. We may expect false prophets and false teachers, even from the visible people of God.

· Mary: This passage is an encouragement to pray for those in positions of power, and influence them as and we have opportunity to do so. It is also a demonstration of the powerful wisdom, coherence, and authority of God’s word to those whose hearts are open to see it (intelligent proconsul was “astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”) Those who oppose it must use deceit and fraud to pervert its teachings (e.g. “The Da Vinci Code”).


· Seleucia was a port just west of Antioch and close to Cyprus.

· They went from Salamis on the east of the island to Paphos in the west, where they met Sergius Paulus and Elymas.

· Cyprus as a whole, and especially Paphos, was devoted to Venus and therefore was given over to the heinous immorality that attended that religion.


· Ask if anyone has difficulties.

Closing Praise

Psalm 67A (Dennis 193)



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