Saul baffles the Jews in Damascus. They expect him to defend Judaism against the new movement, but now he is preaching that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 20) and proving that Jesus is the Christ (v. 22). Luke tells of their reaction, they are astonished (v. 21) and baffled (v. 22). Meanwhile, Saul grows more and more powerful. He cannot be beaten in argument and so the Jews plan to kill him instead (v. 23). Here is another example of unreasonable and unreasoning blind belligerence.
About David Cook
David Cook was Principal of the Sydney Missionary and Bible College for 26 years. He is an accomplished writer and has authored Bible commentaries, books on the Minor Prophets, and several Bible study guides.
Entries by David Cook
Ananias is rightfully cautious about his vision (v. 10). The Lord is specific about the direction He gives (v. 11). He has wonderfully prepared the way for Ananias (v. 12).
Here is a major turning point in Acts and in the history of the church. It is the conversion of Paul, which Luke repeats in his narrative for emphasis (see Acts 22:6–21; 26:12–18).
So far we have read of large numbers of people coming to repentance and faith in Jesus (see Acts 2:41, 47; 4:4; 6:7). Now we meet just one man, who highlights God’s interest in each and every person.
Today’s passage has been the source of much controversy in the church. Peter and John are sent by the apostles to Samaria, they lay hands on the disciples who have previously been baptised in Jesus’ name (v. 16), and they receive the Holy Spirit (v. 17). Whose name should they have been baptised with in order to receive this Holy Spirit? It is clear they were true believers. So why had they not received the Holy Spirit at the time of their repentance, as did the 3,000 in Acts 2 and others elsewhere?.
The early Christian, Tertullian, said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”4 The church scatters out from Jerusalem (Acts 8:1; 11:19) and Saul initiates a thorough search for believers (v. 3). There is nothing here of the open-mindedness of Gamaliel (Acts 5:33–40).
In Acts 2:37, we see deep conviction come upon those who hear Peter’s sermon. Stephen’s speech also arouses a deep feeling. But it was resentment (v. 54), not repentance. Stephen pulls no punches (vv. 51–52). His manner and content is not that of a man looking for acquittal. Yet again we are told by Luke of his fullness in the Spirit in verse 55, as we were previously told in Acts 6:5 and 6:8.
Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin, the highest court of Judaism, falls into three sections
The focus now shifts to one of the seven chosen men, who is described in verse 3 as “full of the Spirit and wisdom” and in verse 8 as “full of God’s grace and power”.
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