Acts 8 & 9 Study Guides & Breakdown/Spiritual Blindness-Open up our Eyes and Mind to The Truth!!!
"Man Shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"- Matthew 4:4- "My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it" - Mark 8:21
Having received this day as a gift, I (We) thank You Holy Trinity, for through Your goodness and patience You were not wrathful with me (Us), and idler (s) and sinner (s), neither have You cast me (Us) down in my (Our)sins...But You have shown Your love towards me (us) and have guided me (us) to keep my (our) daily watch to glorify Your power...Enlighten my (our) mind (minds) to study Your teachings in Scripture...Help me (us) to apply what I (we) learn and to praise You with all my (our) heart and glorify Your Holy Name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever...Amen!!!
Shine within my (our) hearts, loving Master, the pure Light of Your Divine Knowledge, and open the eyes of my mind that I may understand Your teachings...Instill in me (us) also reverence for Your Blessed commandments, so having conquered sinful desires I (we) may pursue a spiritual way of life, thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You...For You, Christ my God, are my light, and to You I (we) give, glory, together with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit, now and forever...Amen!!!
CHANT PSALM 23
INTO YOUR HANDS LORD YESHUA (JESUS CHRIST) WE COMMIT OUR SOULS AND BODIES, BLESS US AND HAVE MERCY ON US AND GRANT US ETERNAL LIFE!!!
ACTS 8 STUDY GUIDE & BREAKDOWN
THE FIRST GENERAL PERSECUTION
8:1: IN THE LITURGY OF ST. BASIL: we proclaim God as one who "makes the evil to be good..." So the Lord uses the sins of man for good and to get holy results...Here, the scattering of the disciples during this PERSECUTION led to the spread of the gospel to other areas...St. Stephen is sometimes called the Protomartyr (or the first martyr), as he is the first believer to be killed in the name of Christ...
THE CHURCH IN SAMARIA
8:5-13: PHILIP THE DEACON (Acts 6:5): Is the first to evangelize Samaria with the gospel of Yeshua (Jesus) Christ, bringing both teachings and healings...The eager reception by the people (v. 12) Is due mainly to the foundation laid by St. Photini, the Samaritan woman of (John 4), Who brought news of the Messiah before His crucifixion- (See- John 4:39):
8:9: BEING A SORCERER AND DAZZLED BY PHILIP'S HEALINGS, SIMON: converted for reasons other than faith: He would later try to buy the power to work miracles- (vv. 18-24), and according to tradition, he after wards returned to his magical arts and was a bitter enemy of the Church:
THE SAMARITAN PENTECOST
8:14: THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH: is shown by new communities being under the authority of and in communion with the church of JERUSALEM: In the Church to this day, all communities in a given area are united under the authority of a local bishop, who is in communion with all the other bishops of the Orthodox Church!!!
8:16-17: BAPTISM AND CHRISMATION-( anointing for the reception of THE HOLY SPIRIT): were considered two distinct sacraments from the beginning: THE PHRASE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST: should not be understood to mean that the Trinity was not mentioned at the time of baptism: "Do not imagine that because the names of the Father and the Holy Spirit are sometimes omitted when the Apostle speaks of baptism that the invocation of their names has been omitted" (BasilG): Sometimes the Bible speaks of baptism in the Holy Spirit and sometimes of baptism in Christ to emphasize certain points: Always, we are (Orthodox Christians) baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit- (BasilG; see Matthew 28:19-and notes): Specific reference to baptism in Jesus Christ was not intended to neglect the Trinity, but to distinguish Christian baptism from John's baptism of repentance- (see also Acts- 19:1-5):
8:22-24: FAITH: must be accompanied by a total change of life or it is worthless: SIMON believed on a certain level- (v. 13), but he was not justified, because he was POISONED BY BITTERNESS AND BOUND BY INIQUITY:
THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH
8:27: EUNUCHS: were men who were castrated, whether by birth defect, disease, or mutilation, and were often employed to guard women of nobility: THIS EUNUCH had a thorough knowledge of Judaism and was likely a Jewish proselyte- (convert):
8:29: ONLY THOSE MATURE IN FAITH: can hear and discern the promptings of THE SPIRIT - (JohnChr): those of lesser faith are prompted more directly by the words and angels!!!
8:30-31: BECAUSE THE SCRIPTURES: have a specific, God-given meaning- (2 Peter 1:20-21), it is impossible to truly understand them apart from the Church, for apostolic interpretation is held in the consciousness of the Church!!!
8:32-33: THIS PASSAGE: from Isaiah is prayed by the presbyter as he prepares the bread for the Divine Liturgy!!!
8:35: AGAIN, THE OT: is the foundation for proclaiming the gospel of Yeshua (Jesus) Christ- (see Acts 2:14-40; and Acts 7:1-53-Notes): Such is the power of the OT that if anyone- "would apply himself to the study of the prophets, he would need miracles"- (JohnChr):
836-39: FROM THE BEGINNING: Baptism in WATER- (v. 36) and faith in Christ- (v. 37) are both essential for entrance into the NT Church: The apostolic pattern of conversion in Christ is hearing, believing, and baptism!!!
ACTS 9 STUDY GUIDE & BREAKDOWN
9:1-2: SAUL: Persecutes Christians under the legal structure of Judaism; as such, he is charged to arrest Jewish Christians, but has no authority over Gentile Christians: Christianity became known as THE WAY based on Christ calling Himself- "the way" -(John 14:6), and on the fact that following Christ is not simply a momentary decision or the observance of outward religious practices, but instead a whole way of life, a change of heart and mind, it's all about the heart and faith!!!
9:4: TO PERSECUTE: either Christians individually or the Church generally is to persecute Christ Himself, for they cannot be separated -(see Matthew 25:40; Ephesians 5:23, 30)
9:5: GOADS: are spikes used to prod farm animals: The term is sometimes used as a metaphor for the wisdom or promptings of God- (Ecc 12:11, "pointed sticks"): Here Christ is declaring the futility of fighting against divine truth:
9:8: SAUL'S BLINDNESS: is illustrating Christ's teachings on spiritual blindness- (John 9:39): As long as Saul saw things from his own perspective, he was spiritually blind: Only by having his earthly vision taken away does Saul become capable of truly seeing Christ in glory and truth: This action also drives Saul to to submit to the Church for baptism!!!
9:11: THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH: continues an unbroken succession to this early Damascus Church and to this day is headquartered on THE STREET CALLED STRAIGHT!!!
9:13: ANANIAS: was likely one of Saul's targets for arrest in Damascus: He served as the first bishop of that city!!!
9:15: THAT SAUL WAS GOD'S CHOSEN VESSEL: does not mean that he had no free will in the matter: Instead, it indicates that God had selected Saul, knowing that he would freely accept and be capable of doing the work set before him!!!
9:18: EVEN THOUGH SAUL: had a direct revelation of Christ and believed in Him, he still summitted to baptism in the Church: THE SCALES falling from Saul's eyes illustrates that those under the Law remain ultimately blind until they encounter and receive the Yeshua (Jesus) Christ!!!
SAUL'S FIRST PREACHING
9:23-25: THE FORMER PERSECUTOR is now persecuted - (see also- Acts 5:41):
SAUL IN JERUSALEM
9:29: THESE HELLENISTS: were not Christians, but Greek-speaking Jews who rejected Christ- (contrast- Acts 6:1):
9:31: THIS IS THE FIRST MENTION: in the Book of Acts of CHURCHES in the plural, showing that the Church is not invisible, but consists of visible local communities united in faith, doctrine, worship, and authority...
PETER IN GENTILE JUDEA
9:32: THE TERM SAINTS: is referring to all Christians and those who follow Yeshua (Jesus) and for all who believe in Him with the whole hearts and are sanctified by the Holy Spirit are by definition saints: The later use of the term saints for holy people who lived particularly exemplary lives and who are canonized (or glorified) by the Church does not undo this primary meaning: LYDDA is about 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem!!!
9:34: PETER: brings Christ's healing to a paralytic in a manner similar to Yeshua (Jesus) healing the paralytic in (John 5:1-15): The healing power of JESUS CHRIST continues in His Church to this day!!!
9:35: SHARON: was a region north of Lydda along the Mediterranean seacoast: The signs the apostles worked convinced many people who TURNED TO THE LORD: These signs prove the mercy and power of God, so confirming the gospel and leading people to repentance!!!
9:40: PETER'S RAISING OF TABITHA: from the dead parallels Christ's raising of the synagogue ruler's daughter- (Matthew 9:22-25):
9:32-42: This passage is read on the forth Sunday of Pascha, called the Sunday of the Paralytic!!!
We all experience spiritual blindness at some point in our lives just like Saul-Paul...Two years ago my life changed immediately after my Chrismation in the Orthodox Church, on December 15, 2019- Since that day my life has changed for the better, and now I'm living each day for the Lord!!! I seem to live in a world were having this joy for the Lord is not always accepted, and I get random eye rolls when I give thanks to Our Creator!!! Many people think I'm crazy or even weird when I talk about getting prepared and stocking up for the times ahead of us all...Noah was considered crazy during his time so in a way I feel like Noah and other times I feel like Simon Peter, and the Prophet Jeremiah!!! Many times I find myself alone even at Church, maybe it's a two way street, but no one talks to me...People either are afraid to approach me or they assume I'm not a sociable guy...Since coming to Christ, I feel more alive and have both eternal and internal peace, but with all that I feel more alone in this fallen world!!! I will continue the mission in which I has been given to me by our Father in Heaven, my mission is to teach transgressors His ways, so sinners can turn back to Him...I'm called to teach and preach both truth and righteousness, I'm to teach to seek Him and only Him, Give Him your heart and He will do the rest!!! I'm called to be your watchman and let you all know how to prepare!!! Lastly it's time to wake up out of the spiritual blindness, and walk into the Light the Way, the Truth, and that is Jesus Christ- shun evil and always do good, help the needy and the poor and pray for your enemies!!!
END WITH THE LORD'S PRAYER- LET'S DEPART IN PEACE IN THE NAME OF THE LORD MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST!!!
JPCE SPIRITUAL TALK
NEVER HOLD BACK
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD