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Third Quarter 2018 • July, August, September
COMMENTARY—THE BOOK OF ACTS
Week 11: September 8–14
COMMENTARY ON "Arrest in Jerusalem"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
The lesson introduction is a series of speculations concerning Paul's motive for going to Jerusalem. At the very least this is not good bible study. Without saying so, the author gives the student, uninformed of what Scripture actually teaches, the impression that a strong-willed Paul, against good advise not to do so acted according to his own will and ego. What the lesson author seems to not realize is that Paul knew full well that going to Jerusalem was a dangerous thing to do yet he did so under the leading of the Holy Spirit because it was God's plan that he do so.
Since the title and subject for this week is 'Arrest in Jerusalem' it seems rather odd that the quarterly lessons begin with Acts 15:1-5 instead, then theorize with; "Perhaps sensing a growing conflict, Paul conceived a plan to promote unity in the church." It was the role of the council in Jerusalem under the leadership of Peter to promote unity focusing on what was necessary for sinners, Jew of Gentile alike, to be saved and enter into the kingdom of God. At this council without any argument from Paul he simply agreed with the instructions given to him. The motive for what Paul did or may have said later is unrelated to what the council discussed and resolved at this time. Prior to this meeting the Apostle Peter, who had already been given "the keys to heaven" by Jesus, was direct in a vision from God to go to, stay with and eat whatever was placed before him in a Gentile home. It is Peter, not Paul, who first announced the changes being debated in this council. It is under the leadership of Peter that it became clear to all present that the Old Covenant along with all the law of that covenant was fulfilled and therefore obsolete.
The lesson references Acts 15:1-5 where it says; "some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” "
The council's instructions they gave to Paul and his party were primarily directed towards and silenced 'the party of the Pharisees', those who demanded the Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. The council, not Paul, made it clear that both circumcision and 'the law of Moses' were obsolete and unrelated to salvation for New Covenant believers. This made it clear to all that both Jew or Gentile enter into the kingdom of God solely by faith in the finished work of Jesus. Furthermore there was not and had never been any conflict between Paul and the leaders in the church at Jerusalem. What Peter said to the party of the Pharisees exposes the very same error advocated by Adventism:
"...And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:8-11)
Instead of being a search of Scripture the introductory lesson continues with a series of speculations ending with this bit of nonsense: "Let’s follow Paul as he enters this new phase of his life and mission." There was no change at this time with Paul's "life and mission". The one thing that changed was the 'party of the Pharisees' had been silenced. For those who preach Adventist beliefs, you should take a hint and be silent yourself.
As for Paul, his preaching had been validated by the council and he simply continued preaching the same gospel of Jesus Christ as he had been doing from the start even before his first missionary trip. There was no change in his 'life and mission'. Here is why:
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12)
In Sunday's lesson we are concerned with the events leading up to Paul's arrest. However we are faced with the twisted Adventist attempt to combine "faith in Jesus alone" with the requirements of the Old Covenant. This nonsense reveals a total lack of understanding the book of Romans which of course was written by Paul. This is exactly what Paul has been teaching from day one of his ministry under the leadership of Jesus Christ. Using the analogy of a woman married to man, here is what Paul has been teaching Jewish brothers, those who know the Law because they were once under the requirements of the Old Covenant:
Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Rom. 7:1-6)
Those who identify themselves as Christians because their sins have been fully covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ are the Bride of Christ, Eph. 5:25-27, Rev. 19:7-9 & 2 Cor. 11:1-4:
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Cor. 1-4)
1. Since the perfect sinless Lamb of God Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements (the law) of the Old Mosaic Covenant, this covenant became obsolete.
2. You are either in the one covenant or the other. You cannot be in both at the same time. To attempt to do so would be spiritual adultery.
3. Jewish Christians are just as free of the Old Covenant as the Gentiles who were never in this covenant. All Christians together are members of The Bride of Christ in the New Covenant.
4. So yes, Paul is most certainly teaching New Covenant Jewish Christians to abandon circumcision and the law of Moses.
5. By teaching an unlawful combination of Old Covenant law and New Covenant faith Adventism is guilty of the heresy of spiritual adultery.
6. As for why Paul was so determine to go to Jerusalem, the lesson author seems totally unaware that Paul is not acting according to his own will. Instead he is there because it is the will of God that he be there. All that happens, right up to the events in Rome, are according to the will of God. The lesson author is wrong by giving us the impression that Paul's 'ego' has led him in a trap.
Having shown in a review of the first two days of the quarterly lessons that they are corrupted in support of the Adventist non-biblical 'world view' of reality the remainder of the this commentary will be confined to a short highlighting of the imbedded problems.
The lesson is wrong in suggesting that there was a conflict between Paul and the Christian leadership in Jerusalem. The riots and the subsequent arrest of Paul were instigated by non-Christian orthodox Jews who were the enemies of the cross of Christ.
The lesson fails to point out that in the reference to Acts 21:28 that charges against him were partially true. New Covenant Christians, Jew and Gentile alike, are free from the Mosaic law. However most importantly he had not defiled the Temple.
By writing words such as "perhaps", "he could be" or "the possibility" the lesson author, once again, gives opinion instead of revealing to us what the Scripture text actually means.
In the lesson there is speculation concerning Paul's family yet does not does not extend that line of thought to how his nephew could have possibly learned of the plot to have Paul killed. Criminals normally attempt to perform their unlawful evil acts in secret. Why not turn to the obvious and also suggest that this was all according to the providence of God? After all, all the way up to his arrival and time in Rome, we see the hand of God working his will and plan in the life of Paul.
This lesson perpetrates a myth of Adventism with this Ellen G. white quote; "Had the leaders in the church fully surrendered their feeling of bitterness toward the apostle.....". There was no bitterness on the part of the Christian leadership and church in Jerusalem. The problem was between orthodox Old Covenant Jews (primarily the Sadducees and Pharisees) and Christians, Jew and Gentile alike, who were followers of Jesus Christ.