Posts by jdansmall

I'm a beggar on the trail looking for and sharing "bread crumbs" to make the journey better for all of us!

The Sequel – Day 19

April 26, Sunday

Military EscortThe next day Paul was released; and the commander, determined to get to the bottom of Paul’s accusation by the Jews, ordered the chief priests and Sanhedrin to convene. Then he took Paul down and set him in front of them.

Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Men and brothers, I have lived my life with a perfectly clear conscience before God to this day.” That’s as far as he got before Ananias the High Priest ordered those who were standing near to slap him in the mouth.

Paul reacted and said to him, “God will strike you, you white-washed wall! There you sit pretending to judge me by the Law when you violate it by telling them to hit me!”

Tension mounted as a bystander challenged Paul, saying, “How dare you insult God’s High Priest like that?”

But Paul quickly apologized and said, “My brothers, I didn’t realize that he was the High Priest; as Scripture says: ‘You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.’”

Then, as Paul realized that part of the council were Sadducees and the rest were Pharisees, he spoke loudly for all to hear, “I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees, and it is because I believe in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial!” Paul made this statement, knowing that it would distract the Council.

There was, in fact, a great uproar as the scribes of the Pharisees rose to Paul’s defense against the Sadducees who don’t believe in resurrection, angelic beings, or a non-physical spirit realm. “We find nothing wrong with this man!” they protested. “Suppose some angel or spirit has really spoken to him?”


By this point the Roman tribune feared that Paul might be torn to pieces. So he ordered the soldiers to come down and rescue him and bring him back to the barracks.

That night the Lord appeared at Paul’s side and said to him, “Courage! You have witnessed boldly for Me here in Jerusalem, and you must give your witness for Me in Rome.”

Early in the morning a group of about forty Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves by a solemn oath to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. They approached the chief priests and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves by a solemn oath to let nothing pass our lips until we have killed Paul. Now you and the Council must ask the commander to bring Paul down to you, explaining that you want to examine his case more closely. While they are making their way here, we will kill him.

However, Paul’s nephew got wind of this plot and hurried to the barracks to tell Paul about it. Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander. He has something to report to him.”

So the centurion took him to the commander and said, “The prisoner Paul asked me to bring this young man to speak to you.”

The commander took him by the hand, led him away from the others, and asked him privately, “What did you want to tell me?”

The boy replied, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow as though they were going to enquire more carefully into his case. But you mustn’t let them persuade you because more than forty of them are waiting for him.  They have sworn a solemn oath that they won’t eat or drink until they have killed him. They have everything set in place and are waiting for you to give the order.”

At this the man dismissed the boy, warning him, “Don’t let anyone know that you have given me this information.” Then he summoned two of his centurions and said, “Get two hundred men ready to proceed to Caesarea with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen by nine o’clock tonight.” A horse was also to be provided for Paul so he could make it safely to Felix the governor.

The commander then wrote this letter of explanation to Felix: “Claudius Lysias sends greetings to his Excellency Governor Felix. This man had been seized by the Jews and was on the point of being murdered by them. When I arrived with my troops and discovered that he was a Roman citizen, I rescued him. In my investigation of the charges against him, I had him appear before their Sanhedrin. That was where I discovered he was being accused regarding some of their laws and certainly nothing which deserved either death or imprisonment. Now, however, it has come to my attention that there is a plot against his life, so I have sent him to you without delay. At the same time, I have notified his accusers that they must make their charges against him in your presence.”


So it was that the soldiers took Paul and, riding through that night, brought him down to Antipatris. The next day they returned to Jerusalem, leaving the horsemen to accompany him the rest of the way. The contingent proceeded to Caesarea; and after delivering the letter to the governor, they handed Paul over to him. Once Felix had read the letter, he asked Paul what province he came from. On learning that he came from Cilicia, the governor said, “I will hear your case as soon as your accusers arrive.” Then he ordered him to be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

Five days later Ananias the High Priest arrived with some of the elders and an attorney by the name of Tertullus. They presented their case against Paul before the governor. When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began his prosecution with these words:

“Most Excellent Felix, it is because of your outstanding leadership and reforms that our nation enjoys peace and a greatly improved standard of living. At all times, and indeed everywhere, we acknowledge these things with the deepest gratitude.

“However, getting quickly to the point so as not to impose on you, we request this brief hearing. Quite simply, the issue is that we have found this man to be a pest, stirring up trouble among Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the sect known as the Nazarenes, and he was about to desecrate the Temple when we apprehended him. I’m certain you will recognize the danger just as soon as you hear this man’s own testimony.”

While Tertullus was speaking, the Jews kept butting in, confirming each detail.  The governor looked toward Paul and called for his statement.

“Because you have been governor of this nation for many years, your Honor,” Paul began, “I am pleased to present my defense before you. The facts show that it was just twelve days ago that I went up to worship at Jerusalem. Not once did I argue with anyone in the Temple or start a riot, either in the synagogues or in public.  What these men are claiming cannot be substantiated in the least.

“I will admit to you, however, that I do worship the God of our fathers according to the Way, which they call a heresy.  My beliefs are based solidly on the authority of both the Law and the Prophets; and I have the same hope in God which they themselves hold, that there is to be a resurrection of both good men and bad. It is because of this belief that I do strive to live my whole life with a clear conscience before God and man.

“It is worth noting that I have been away from Jerusalem for several years and returned at this time to bring financial assistance to my own nation and to make my offerings. Indeed, I had completed purification rituals and was about to present my offering when I was accosted. There was neither mob nor disturbance until the Jews from Asia came, who, by the way, ought to be here bringing their accusations against me. Otherwise, let these men themselves speak out now and say what crime they found me guilty of when I stood before their Council — unless it was that one sentence that I shouted as I stood among them. All I said was this, ‘It is about the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”

Then Felix, who was well-acquainted with the Way, adjourned the matter and said, “As soon as Commander Lysias arrives, I will decide this case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion to keep Paul in custody but to grant him reasonable liberty and to allow any of his personal friends to look after his needs.

The Sequel – Day 18

April 25, Saturday

Paul arrestedSome of the disciples from Caesarea went along with us. They brought us to the home of Mnason, a native of Cyprus and one of the earliest disciples, where we stayed. On our arrival at Jerusalem the brothers were glad to see us. On the following day Paul went with us to visit James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he gave them a detailed account of all that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

They praised God upon hearing the report and said to Paul,

“You know, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews who, though having become believers, still remain very zealous about upholding the Law. A rumor has spread among them that you teach all Jews who live among the Gentiles to disregard the Law of Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor observe the old customs. We’re concerned about what may happen once they hear that you have arrived.

“We have an idea that may calm their fears. There are four men here who have made a vow. Why don’t you join them and be purified with them? You might even pay their expenses so that they can get their hair cut. Then everyone will know there is no truth in the stories about you but that you also observe the Law.

“Mind you, we’re not suggesting that any of this be imposed on the Gentiles who have believed. We have sent them a letter explaining that they should abstain from what has been offered to idols, from blood and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

So Paul joined the four men and on the following day, after being purified with them, went into the Temple to give notice about the period of purification, when it would be finished, and what offering would be made on behalf of each one of them.

The seven days were almost over when some Jews from Asia saw Paul in the Temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and shouted, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who is teaching everywhere against our people, our Law, and this Temple. Besides, he has brought Greeks into the Temple and has defiled this Holy Place!” This last accusation was because they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian with Paul in the city, and they assumed that Paul had brought him into the Temple.

The whole city was stirred by their speech. They seized Paul and dragged him outside the Temple, and the doors were slammed behind him.

They were about to kill him when a report reached the commander of the Roman cohort that the whole of Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down into the crowd.

When the people saw the official and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. The commander took hold of Paul and arrested him, ordering that he be bound with two chains. Then he began asking who the man was and what he had been doing. Some of the crowd shouted one thing and some another. Since he could not be certain of the facts because of the shouting that was going on, he ordered Paul to be brought to the barracks. By the time they got to the steps, Paul had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. The crowd kept shouting furiously, “Away with him!”

As they were about to enter the barracks Paul asked the commander, “May I say something to you?”

“What? Do you know Greek?” the tribune asked. “Aren’t you that Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt along with those four thousand assassins who escaped into the desert?”

“I am a Jew,” replied Paul. “I am a man of Tarsus, a citizen of no insignificant city, I might add. I’d like a chance to address this crowd.”

On being given permission Paul stood on the steps and made a gesture with his hand to the people. The crowd quieted as he began, “My brothers and my fathers, listen to what I have to say in my own defense.”

When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, a profound silence came over the place.

“I myself am a Jew,” Paul told them. “I was born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but I was brought up here in Jerusalem, having received my training at the feet of Gamaliel and being educated in the strictest observance of our fathers’ Law. I was as much on fire with zeal for God as you all are today. You may not know it but I am also the man who persecuted The Way vigorously, arresting both men and women, throwing them into prison, and killing many, as the High Priest and the whole council can readily testify. Indeed, it was after receiving letters from them that I was on my way to the synagogue in Damascus.  I intended to arrest any followers of The Way I could find there to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.

“Then this happened to me: As I neared Damascus, about midday, a great light from Heaven suddenly blazed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ I replied, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth Whom you are persecuting.’ Those traveling with me also saw the light but they did not hear the voice of the One who was talking to me.

‘What do You want me to do, Lord?’ I asked. The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus. There you will be told of all that has been determined for you to do.’ The bright light had blinded me, so my companions had to lead me by the hand into Damascus.

“A man by the name of Ananias, a devout observer of the Law and one highly respected by all the Jews who lived there, came to visit me. He stood by my side and said, ‘Saul, brother, receive your sight!’ And just like that, I looked and saw him. He went on to explain, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, to hear words from His own lips. He wants you to become His witness before all men of what you have seen and heard. There’s no time to waste! Get up and be baptized! Let your sins be washed away as you call on His name.’

“Then it happened that when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance and saw Him, and He said to me, ‘Quickly! Leave Jerusalem at once because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’  ‘But Lord,’ I said, ‘they know that I have gone from one synagogue after another imprisoning and beating any who believe in You. And they know that when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval, even guarding the outer garments of those who killed him.’ But He said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

They had listened intently to him until he said this, but now they raised their voices shouting, “Kill him, and rid the earth of such a man! He is not fit to live!”

As they were yelling and ripping their clothes and hurling dust into the air, the commander gave orders to bring Paul into the barracks and directed that he should be examined by scourging, so that he might discover the reason for such an uproar against him. But when they had strapped him up, Paul spoke to the centurion standing by, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen before he has had a trial?”

Troubled at hearing this, the centurion went in to the commander and reported, saying, “Do you realize what you were about to do? This man is a Roman citizen!”

Then the commander himself came up to Paul, and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

And he said, “Yes.”

“I had to pay a lot of money to get my citizenship,” said the commander.

“Well, I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

Fear rippled through those who were about to examine him and they left quickly. The commander was especially alarmed when he realized that he had put a Roman citizen in chains.

The Sequel – Day 17

April 24, Friday

EutychusPaul was about to sail for Syria when some Jews made a further plot against him, so he decided to make his way back through Macedonia instead. Part of the team, Sopater, a Berean, the son of Pyrrhus; two Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and two Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus, went ahead to Troas. The rest of us sailed from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread and joined them five days later at Troas, where we spent a week.

On the first day of the week, we assembled for the breaking of bread. Since Paul intended to leave on the following day, he began to speak to them and talked nearly till midnight. There were a great many lamps burning in the upper room where we met, and a young man called Eutychus, who was sitting on the window sill, fell asleep as Paul’s address went on and on. Finally, completely overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground from the third story. When they got to him, he was dead; but Paul bent over him and embraced him. “Don’t be alarmed,” Paul said, “he is still alive.”

They all went upstairs again; and when they had broken bread and eaten, they continued to talk together until daybreak.  Paul then departed.  As for the boy, he was taken home alive, much to the relief of all.


Meanwhile we had gone aboard the ship and sailed for Assos. Paul had arranged for us to pick him up there since he chose to go overland.  After he boarded at Assos, we went on to Mitylene and then to the coast. We sailed from there and arrived off the coast of Chios the next day. From Chios we sailed to Samos and finally Miletus. Paul had decided not to visit Ephesus in order to save time so that he might reach Jerusalem in time for the day of Pentecost.

While we were in Miletus, he called for the elders of the Church in Ephesus to come to him as he had a message on his heart for them.

“My life has been an open book among you ever since I first set foot in Asia. You are witnesses of how humbly I served the Lord and of the tears I shed because of the grievous trials I suffered at the hands of the Jews. You yourselves recall how I taught publicly and in your homes, always ready to proclaim whatever would be profitable for you. My Message was the same whether to Jews or Greeks: repentance towards God and unwavering trust in our Lord Jesus.

“And now I am compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what is going to happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit keeps warning me that imprisonment and persecution lay ahead.  Mind you, I’m not concerned for my own life as long as I can finish my course and complete the ministry which the Lord Jesus has given me in declaring the Good News of the grace of God.

“I am painfully aware that not one of you to whom I preached the Kingdom of God will ever see my face again, which is why I wanted to meet with you one last time. My conscience is clear, for I have never shrunk from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.

“Let me urge you to be on your guard for yourselves and for the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians.  You are to be shepherds to the Church of God, which our Lord Jesus won at the cost of His own blood. It won’t be long before savage wolves will come in among you, having no mercy for the flock. Yes, and even from among your own group, men will arise speaking perversions of the truth, trying to draw away the disciples and make them followers of themselves.

“This is why I tell you to keep on the alert. When things get tough, remember my example, how for three years I never failed night and day to warn every one of you, often with tears. Now I commend you to the Lord and to the message of His grace which can strengthen you and secure your inheritance among all those who are consecrated to God.

“I have never coveted anybody’s gold or silver or clothing. Instead, with my own hands I have provided for my needs and for those of my companions. I have demonstrated to you that through hard work we must help the weak, always bearing in mind the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

With these words he knelt down and prayed with all of them. There were plenty of tears as they reflected on the possibility of never seeing him again. Each of them embraced Paul with much affection before accompanying him down to the ship.


From Miletus we sailed to Cos, then on to Rhodes and Patara where we transferred to a ship bound for Phoenicia. We passed by Cyprus and arrived in Tyre where their cargo was to be unloaded.

We contacted the disciples there and stayed with them for a week. They felt led by the Spirit again and again to warn Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem; but when the time came, we left there and continued our journey. They all came out to see us off, bringing wives and children with them. We walked together down to the beach where we prayed and said our farewells. Then we went aboard the ship while the disciples went back to their homes.

We sailed away from Tyre and arrived at Ptolemais where we fellowshipped with the brothers. On the following day we sailed to Caesarea where we met up with Philip the evangelist, one of the original seven deacons, and his four unmarried daughters, all of whom were gifted prophetesses. While we were there, a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea. When he came to see us, he took Paul’s belt and used it to tie his own hands and feet together, saying, “The Holy Spirit says this: the owner of this belt will be bound like this by the Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles!”

Upon hearing this, those of us traveling with Paul, along with the believers in Caesarea, begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered us, “You’re breaking my heart with all your tears. Don’t you know that I am ready not only to be bound but to die in Jerusalem for the sake of the Name of the Lord Jesus.”

Since there was nothing we could do to change his mind, we committed the situation to the Lord, saying, “May the Lord’s will be done,” and said no more. After this we made our preparations and went up to Jerusalem.

The Sequel – Day 16

April 23, Thursday

RiotFinally, Paul launched a third mission excursion throughout Galatia and Phyrgia, encouraging the believers along the way.

Meanwhile a Jew by the name of Apollos, a native of Alexandria, a gifted communicator, and a man well-acquainted with the Scriptures, arrived at Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he was very effective in teaching about Jesus even though he only knew about the baptism of John. He was fearless in proclaiming the Truth in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained God’s Message to him more accurately.

When he decided to cross into Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote a letter introducing him to the disciples there, asking them to make him welcome. Upon his arrival he proved a source of great strength to those who believed through grace. With a powerful defense he publicly refuted the Jews, showing from their Scriptures that Jesus was the promised Messiah.


While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul journeyed through the upper parts of the country, finally arriving at Ephesus. There he found a dozen disciples and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They indicated that they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit.

“How were you baptized?” Paul asked. So they explained that they had been baptized into John’s baptism.

“John’s baptism was a baptism to show a change of heart,” Paul explained, “but he always made it clear that they must believe in the One who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When these men heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. As Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them; and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy.

Paul spent about three months in Ephesus, at first reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue, explaining the Kingdom of God until, sensing a growing resistance to the Message and some open hostility, he withdrew from there and continued his daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. He carried on this work for two years, giving opportunity to all who lived in Asia, both Greeks and Jews, to hear the Lord’s Message. God confirmed Paul’s ministry with unusual demonstrations of power. People were being healed or delivered of evil spirits, at times through the laying on of Paul’s hands, but sometimes just by touching handkerchiefs or aprons which had been in contact with his body.

Interestingly, there were some itinerant Jewish exorcists who attempted to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus when dealing with evil spirits. They got into the practice of saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven brothers, sons of a chief priest called Sceva, were among those doing this when one time the evil spirit answered, “Jesus I know, and I am acquainted with Paul, but who on earth are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was living jumped on them and over-powered them all with such violence that they rushed out of that house wounded and naked, having had their clothes torn off by the man. Once this story became common knowledge to all who were living in Ephesus, a great sense of awe came over them; and the name of the Lord Jesus became highly respected.

A new openness and boldness was evident among those who had professed their faith. Many who had previously practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly, and the Word of the Lord continued to grow irresistibly in power and influence.

Seeing the Word established in Ephesus, Paul determined in his spirit to travel on through Macedonia and Achaia, then to Jerusalem. “And after I have been there, I must see Rome as well,” he confided. He sent Timothy and Erastus ahead to Macedonia while he remained a while longer in Asia.

Not everyone in Ephesus was thrilled with the flourishing church, however. Those whose business depended on the worship of Diana saw profits plummeting. A prominent silversmith by the name of Demetrius called together the craftsmen in his trade and rallied them to take action, saying, “Men, you all know just how much our prosperity depends on this particular work. Why, reports from all of Asia show that this man Paul has persuaded great masses of people to join “The Way” by telling them that gods made by human hands are not gods at all.

“Do you understand what this could mean? Not only are our careers at risk, but the very temple of the great goddess Diana may also be neglected. Think of it: she whom all of Asia, yea, the whole world worships, dethroned from her place of honor!”

Demetrius’ speech succeeded in stirring up the crowd who began chanting with angry fervor, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” It didn’t take long for the whole city to take up the cause.  They rushed into the coliseum dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were Paul’s travelling companions. Paul wanted to go in to address the crowd, but the disciples would not allow him to. Some high-ranking officials in the city who were Paul’s friends also urged him not to risk his life by entering the theatre.

As is often the case in mass protests, most of the people didn’t even know why they had gathered. Some shouted one thing and some another. The whole assembly was in utter chaos. Finally the Jewish contingent pushed Alexander to the front to make a speech; but when the crowd recognized him as being a Jew, they shouted him down, chanting for two hours straight, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

When the town clerk was finally able to silence the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, come now! Who in the world doesn’t recognize that our great city of Ephesus is temple-guardian of the great Diana and of the image which fell down from Jupiter himself? Since these are undeniable facts, you ought to restrain yourselves and not do anything you might later regret.

“These men you have dragged in here aren’t guilty of robbing the temple or blaspheming our goddess. If Demetrius and the rest of you have any charges to bring against anyone, the courts are open and there are judges ready to handle such cases; let them take legal action. If you want anything else, then bring it before the regular assembly.  As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting over today’s events especially since we have no good explanation to offer for all this commotion.” And with these words he dismissed the assembly.

After this uproar subsided, Paul sent for the disciples to give final words of encouragement before departing on his way to Macedonia.  Passing through the region, he exhorted the people and then went on to Greece where he stayed for three months.

The Sequel – Day 15

April 22, Wednesday

AreopagusSo Paul and Silas were sent off to Berea that night. When they went to the Jewish synagogue there, they enjoyed a much better reception than in Thessalonica. These folks listened to the Message eagerly and studied the Scriptures every day to see if what they were now being told was true. Many of them became believers, as did a number of prominent Greek women and quite a few men.

When the Jews at Thessalonica found out that Paul was spreading the Message in Berea, they came there to stir up the people. To avoid trouble, the brothers sent Paul down to the coast; but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. The men who accompanied Paul took him as far as Athens and returned with instructions for Silas and Timothy to rejoin Paul as soon as possible.


While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was overwhelmed with the large number of idols throughout the city. He talked about it with the Jews in the synagogue as well as the God-fearing Gentiles. He even argued daily with any who were in the marketplace. Athens was a popular gathering place for philosophers and tourists who were always on the lookout for some new idea or fad. Some Epicurean and Stoic devotees engaged Paul in conversation and invited him to present his novel teachings to the council at the Areopagus. They thought he was introducing new deities when he spoke of Jesus and the resurrection.

This was Paul’s speech:

“Men of Athens, I see that you are an extremely religious people. In getting acquainted with your city I even noticed a shrine TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. It is this God, Whom you acknowledge while admitting that you don’t know Him, that I am here to proclaim to you. Your “unknown” God is the One who made the world and all that is in it. He is the Supreme Ruler of both heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands, nor could mere humans contribute anything to His well-being. Clearly, what could He need since He is the one who supplies life and breath and all that is needed to every living creature?

“Starting with the creation of one man, He has created every race of men and scattered them over the face of the whole earth. He determined when and where each should live, intending for them to search for God, in the hope that they might reach out for Him and find Him — yes, even though He is not far from any one of us. Indeed, it is by Him that we live and move and have our being. Some of your own poets have said as much, ‘For we are also His children.’ If then, we are the children of God, we ought not to picture God in terms of gold or silver or stone, conceived and constructed by human art or ingenuity.

“It is true that God has overlooked man’s ignorance for a long time. Today, however, He commands all men everywhere to repent. He has set a day on which He plans to judge the whole world by the perfect standard of the Man whom He has appointed.  He has certified that Man’s authority to judge by raising Him from the dead.”

Now when the audience heard Paul talk about the resurrection from the dead, some of them laughed and mocked him, but others said, “We would like to hear you speak again on this subject.” As Paul left the gathering, some did join him and took hold of the faith. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus; a woman by the name of Damaris; and a few others.


It wasn’t long after this that Paul left Athens and went to Corinth where he found a Jew by the name of Aquila, a native of Pontus. He and his wife Priscilla had recently moved to Corinth from Italy because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul visited in their home; and because they were tent-makers as he was, he stayed with them and worked alongside them. Every Sabbath Paul used to speak in the synagogue trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself full-time to proclaiming the Message, showing the Jews as clearly as he could that Jesus is the Messiah.

Here, as in the previous cities, the religious Jews turned against him and accused him of serving the devil. That was the last straw! He shook out his garments at them and said, “Your blood be on your heads! From now on I go with a perfectly clear conscience to the Gentiles.” So he left the synagogue and went next door to the home of a man named Titius Justus who feared God. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, trusted in the Lord along with his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard the message believed and were baptized.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and don’t let anyone stop you, for I Myself am with you; I won’t let anyone harm you. I have many people in this city.”- So Paul settled down there for eighteen months and taught them God’s message.

At one point a cadre of Jews apprehended Paul and took him to court. They set him before Gallio, the governor of Achaia, charging him with “brainwashing people to worship God in a way that is contrary to the Law.” Just as Paul was about to defend himself, Gallio addressed the Jews, saying, “If you were bringing a violent criminal before me, I might put up with you Jews; but since it’s just a squabble about words and names and your Law, take care of it yourselves. I don’t have time for this.” With that he had them ejected from the courtroom. In their pent-up frustration they grabbed Sosthenes, the synagogue-leader, and beat him right in front of the court-house, but Gallio still refused to take up their cause.

Paul remained in Corinth for a while after this incident and then sailed for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. At Cenchrea he had his hair cut off, fulfilling a vow he had made. They all arrived at Ephesus where Paul once again went into the synagogue to debate with the Jews. They asked him to stay longer but he declined, saying, “If it is God’s will I will come back to you again.” Leaving Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, he set sail for the port of Caesarea, traveled up to Jerusalem for a brief visit with the believers there, and returned to the sending church in Antioch where he spent considerable time.

The Sequel – Day 14

April 21, Tuesday

paul silas prison liahonlp_We spent several days in Philippi; and on the Sabbath day we went out of the city gate to the riverside, where we hoped to find a place for prayer.  We joined the group of women who had assembled, among them a woman named Lydia who came from Thyatira and was a dealer in purple-dyed cloth.  She was already a believer in God, and the Lord opened her heart to accept Paul’s words. After she and her household had been baptized, she invited us to her home, saying, “If you accept that I am a true believer in the Lord, then come down to my house and stay there.”  She persisted until we had agreed.

Once, on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a young girl who had a spirit of divination and who brought her owners a good deal of profit by foretelling the future. She kept following Paul and the rest of us, crying out, “These men serve the Most High God. They offer a way of salvation.”

She kept it up for several days until Paul could take it no longer. He turned and spoke to the spirit in her, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Immediately it left her.

When the girl’s owners saw that their source of income was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the market square. There they presented them to the chief magistrates, charging, “These Jews are causing a great confusion in our city by proclaiming customs which it is illegal for us as Roman citizens to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack. The magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After giving them a severe beating, they threw them into prison, instructing the jailer to guard them closely. Assuming they were dangerous criminals, he took them into the inner jail and fastened their feet securely in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them when suddenly there was a great earthquake strong enough to shake the foundations of the prison. All the doors flew open and everyone’s chains fell off. When the jailer woke and saw that the doors of the prison had been opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, for he imagined that all the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out to him in a loud voice, saying, “Don’t hurt yourself; we are all here!”

Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and overcome with fear, fell trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. He led them outside, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Put your trust in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.”

There, in the middle of the night, Paul and Silas explained to him and his family the word of the Lord. The jailer washed their wounds, and he and his family were baptized right then. He then took them into his house for a meal. He and his whole household were overjoyed at finding faith in God.

When morning came, the magistrates sent officers with the message, “Let those men go.”

The jailer reported this message to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to have you released. So now you can leave this place and go on your way in peace.”

But Paul said to the officers, “They beat us publicly without any kind of trial, and they threw us into prison despite the fact that we are Roman citizens. And now they think they can send us away quietly? Oh no, let them come and take us out themselves!”

When the officers reported to the magistrates that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were extremely afraid and came in person to apologize to them. After taking them outside the prison, they asked them to leave the city. But upon their release from prison Paul and Silas went to Lydia’s house. Only after seeing the brothers and encouraging them did they depart from Philippi.


Their journey took them through Amphipolis and Apollonia and finally to Thessalonica where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul attended each Sabbath, explaining from the Scriptures why the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is God’s Messiah!” he declared. Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of Greeks and leading women in the city.

But the Jews, motivated by jealousy, rallied a bunch of troublemakers in the marketplace to start a city-wide riot against Paul and Silas. They ransacked Jason’s house looking for them. When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the civic authorities, shouting, “The men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. Besides that, they violate the decrees of Caesar by claiming that there is another king called Jesus!” This really unnerved the local authorities who would only release Jason and the others after they pledged to cooperate.

The Sequel – Day 13

April 20, Monday

2nd JourneyThe church sent them on their way; and they headed down through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling the story of the conversion of the Gentiles as they went. All the brothers were overjoyed to hear about it. Upon their arrival at Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders. They reported all that God had done through them. But some members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers stood up and declared that it was absolutely essential that these new believers be told that they must be circumcised and observe the Law of Moses.

The apostles and elders met to consider the matter. Finally, after much debate, Peter stood up and addressed the group: “Men and brothers, you know that in this matter of taking the Message to the Gentiles, God chose me to be the first to carry it to them when He sent me to Cornelius. God, who knows the hearts of all, confirmed that He had cleansed their hearts when He gave them the Holy Spirit just as He had us. He made no distinction between their faith and ours.

“So why would you further test God by putting a burden on the shoulders of these disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? There is no denying that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved by faith, just as they are!”

This quieted the crowd, and they listened as Barnabas and Paul gave a detailed account of the signs and wonders which God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

At the conclusion of their report, James spoke up, saying, “Men and brothers, listen to me. Peter has explained how God went about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. This is not a new concept. Even the prophets wrote as much in the Scripture, saying, ‘After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord Who brings about things foretold long ago.’

“I do not believe that we should put any additional obstacles in the way of these Gentiles who are turning towards God. Instead, I think we should write to them, telling them to avoid anything polluted by idols, sexual immorality, eating the meat of strangled animals, or tasting blood. These regulations are commonly known since Moses has been read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath day in every city.”

Then it seemed good to the apostles, elders, and the whole church to choose representatives and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Judas, surnamed Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men of the brotherhood, were chosen to carry this letter:

“The apostles and elders send their greetings to our brothers who are Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Since we have heard that some of our number have caused you deep distress and have unsettled your minds by giving you a message which certainly did not originate from us, we are unanimously agreed to send you chosen representatives with our well-loved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent with them Judas and Silas who will give you the same message personally by word of mouth. For it has seemed right to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no further burden upon you except what is absolutely essential, namely, that you avoid what has been sacrificed to idols, tasting blood, eating the meat of whatever has been strangled, and sexual immorality. Keep yourselves free of these things and you will make good progress. Farewell.”

And so the group was sent to Antioch, carrying the letter. Upon their arrival the believers gathered and the letter was read, resulting in great rejoicing. Judas and Silas had much to say to the believers by way of encouragement and instruction. After some days they returned to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch, teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord along with many others.

Some days later Paul spoke to Barnabas, “We should go back and visit the brothers in every city where we have proclaimed the Word of the Lord, to see how they are doing.”

Barnabas agreed and wanted to again take John, surnamed Mark, as their companion. Paul refused to take along one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and who was not prepared to go the distance with them in their work. There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted ways.  Barnabas ended up taking Mark and sailing to Cyprus.


Paul recruited Silas; and together they set out on their journey, commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers in Antioch. They travelled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches and from there went on to Derbe and Lystra.

At Lystra there was a disciple by the name of Timothy whose mother was a Jewish believer, though his father was a Greek. Timothy was highly respected by all the brothers at Lystra and Iconium, and Paul wanted to take him on as his companion. Everybody knew his father was a Greek, so Paul had him circumcised because of the attitude of the Jews in that region. As they went from city to city, they shared the letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, explaining the instructions. As a result the churches grew stronger and their numbers increased daily.


They continued on through Phrygia and Galatia, but the Holy Spirit prevented them from speaking God’s message in Asia.  When they came to Mysia and tried to enter Bithynia, again the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them. So they skirted Mysia and came down to Troas. While there, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia calling to him in these words: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”

Paul, recognizing this as a call from God to take the good news into Europe, immediately began making plans to sail from Troas. I, Luke, joined them there; and we put out to sea, sailing directly to Samothrace, then on to the port of Neapolis. From there we set off for Philippi, a Roman garrison town and the chief city in that part of Macedonia.

The Sequel – Day 12

April 19, Sunday

Not ZeusUpon their arrival in Iconium, they went to the Jewish synagogue and spoke with such conviction that a very large number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But again, some unbelieving Jews stirred up some of the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. Nevertheless, they remained there for a long time and spoke fearlessly for the Lord. He confirmed their testimony by granting power to perform signs and miracles.

The people of the city were divided in their opinions, some taking the side of the Jews, and some that of the apostles. Finally, when the apostles got wind of a conspiracy by both Gentiles and Jews in collaboration with the authorities to have them stoned, they fled to the nearby cities of Lystra and Derbe and continued to proclaim the Message throughout the surrounding countryside.


At Lystra they encountered a lame man who had suffered this handicap since birth. He was listening to Paul as he spoke, and Paul, looking him straight in the eye, perceived that he had the faith to be made well. So he said in a loud voice, “Stand straight up on your feet!” Immediately he sprang to his feet and began walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” They began to call Barnabas, “Zeus,” and Paul, “Hermes,” since he was the spokesman.  The next thing they knew, the high priest of the temple of Zeus had brought oxen to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifices to the two men.

As soon as Barnabas and Paul realized what was going on, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, crying at the top of their voices, “Men, stop! Why are you carrying on like this? We are only human beings with feelings just like yours! We are here to tell you Good News, that you should turn from these meaningless things to the living God! He is the One who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. In the past He allowed all nations to go their own ways — not that He left you without evidence of Himself. In His kindness He sent you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, providing you with food and making your hearts content.”

It was all they could do to keep the crowd from making sacrifices to them — that is, until some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, who turned the minds of the people against Paul so that they stoned him and dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead. But while the disciples were gathered in a circle around him, Paul got up and walked back to the city. The next day he left there, taking Barnabas with him, and went to Derbe where they proclaimed the Good News and made many disciples.


From Derbe they retraced their steps back through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, encouraging the disciples along the way, urging them to stand firm in the faith, and reminding them that it is “through many difficulties that we must enter into the Kingdom of God.” They appointed elders in each church and with prayer and fasting commended these men to the Lord in Whom they had believed. They continued on their journey through Pisidia to Pamphylia, on to Perga where they spoke the Word, and then down to Attalia.

Having finished their assignment, they sailed back to Antioch, to the church from which they had been commissioned to this special task by God’s grace. When they arrived there, they called the church together and reported to them the amazing things God had done and how He had opened the door of faith for the Gentiles. They remained at Antioch with the disciples for a long time.

At one point, some men came down from Judea to Antioch and began teaching the Gentile believers that they had to submit to circumcision as prescribed by Moses in order to be truly saved. Paul and Barnabas argued and debated long and hard until finally the believers decided to send them to Jerusalem along with a few others to settle the issue with the apostles and elders there.

The Sequel – Day 11

April 18, Saturday

Paul Elymas.jpgIncluded among the believers in the Church at Antioch were a number of prophets and teachers: Barnabas; Simeon from Niger; Lucius from Cyrene; Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod Antipas; and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them, saying, “Set Barnabas and Saul apart for Me for a task to which I have called them.” After further fasting and prayer, they laid their hands on them and sent them on their way, John Mark accompanying them.

The Holy Spirit led them to the port city of Seleucia where they boarded a ship for the island of Cyprus. They explained God’s Message in the synagogues from Salamis to Paphos and throughout the island. In Paphos, the provincial capitol, they made the acquaintance of Sergius Paulus, the governor, a man of considerable intellect.  He summoned them, anxious to hear what they had to say. Now a Jewish magician by the name of Elymas was a personal advisor to the governor. When he heard them explaining the word of God, he tried hard to prevent the governor from taking hold of it.

Then the Holy Spirit filled Saul, who is also called Paul, with a rebuke for Elymas: “Why, you son of the devil! You’re as devious and deceptive as the devil himself, the enemy of all that is right, forever twisting the simple ways of the Lord. May the Lord touch you with blindness since you refuse to see the truth and would hinder others.” Instantly, something like a foggy mist came over Elymas; he had to get someone to lead him about. Witnessing this dramatic event convinced the governor of the truth of Paul’s message.


From Paphos, Paul and the team sailed for Perga in Pamphylia on the mainland. John Mark turned back, however, and did not continue with them, returning instead to Jerusalem. After passing through Perga, they went on to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they went to the local synagogue. After the reading of the Law and Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue invited them to speak, saying, “Men and brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, by all means speak.”

Paul stood up and proceeded to give them a brief history of God’s dealings. “Fellow Jews and all of who fear God, listen to me. God chose our fathers and prospered the people of Israel while they were exiles in the land of Egypt. Then He demonstrated His power and led them out of that land after which time He put up with them for forty years in the wilderness. He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and gave them that land as their inheritance.

“For the next four hundred and fifty years He gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. The people begged for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, to be their king for forty years. Saul was replaced by David, a man of whom God Himself said, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’

“And it is from the line of David that God, as He had promised, brought Jesus to Israel to be their Savior. Right before Jesus came, John the baptizer proclaimed the baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. Toward the end of his ministry John said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. Behold, Someone comes after me whose shoe-lace I am not fit to untie!’

“Brothers, sons of Abraham, and all who fear God, hear me when I tell you that this message of salvation has now been sent to us!  The people of Jerusalem and their rulers refused to recognize Him or to heed the prophets which are read every Sabbath day. In condemning Him they fulfilled these very prophecies!

“Even though they had no grounds for a death penalty, they begged Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out everything that was written about Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. For many days He was seen by His followers from Galilee. These men are now His witnesses to the world.

“We have come to tell you the Good News that the promise made to our forefathers has come true. God has fulfilled it by raising up Jesus as He foretold in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten You.’  When He said, ‘I will give You the sure mercies of David,’ God was affirming that He would be raised up never to see death again, as He mentions in yet another Psalm, ‘You will not allow your Holy One to see corruption.’

“It could not have been referring to David, you know, because after he had completed God’s plan for his life, he died and was laid with his ancestors. His body did experience decay, but this Man whom God raised never saw corruption!

“The point of all this is that forgiveness of sins is available to you through this Man. Everyone who entrusts themselves to Him is freed from all those things from which the Law of Moses could never set him free. Only be careful that this saying of the prophets should never apply to you: ‘Behold, you scoffers, marvel and perish; for I am doing something incredible in your day which you will by no means believe, even though it is explained to you.’”

As the people left the synagogue that day, they urged Paul to return the following Sabbath to share the message again. Many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke personally to them and urged them to put their trust in the grace of God.

On the next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to hear the message of God; but when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They contradicted what Paul was saying and slandered him. Paul and Barnabas turned to the agitators and said, “We came to speak the Message of God to you first; but since you reject it and evidently do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we will turn our attention to the Gentiles!  In fact, the Lord commanded us to do so when He said: ‘I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should take the message of salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

When the Gentiles heard this, they were thrilled and responded wholeheartedly to the word of the Lord. All those who were destined for eternal life believed, and the Word of the Lord kept spreading throughout the region. But the offended Jews stirred up some of the prominent women and leading men, who, in turn, started a wave of persecution against Paul and Barnabas, ultimately forcing them to leave the area. Shaking the dust from their feet in protest, they went on to Iconium. The disciples continued to be full of joy and the Holy Spirit.

The Sequel – Day 10

April 17, Friday

Peter ReleasedNews of Peter’s interaction with Gentiles reached the group in Jerusalem, and the Jewish believers took issue with it. When Peter returned to Jerusalem, they confronted him, charging, “We hear that you actually shared a meal with uncircumcised men!”

Peter proceeded to explain the situation. “I was in the city of Joppa, praying,” he said, “when in a trance I saw a vision — something like a great sheet coming down towards me, let down from heaven by its four corners. It came right down to me. When I looked at it closely, I saw animals and wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Never, Lord, for nothing common or unclean has ever passed my lips.’ Then the voice from Heaven spoke a second time and said, ‘You must not call unclean what God has cleansed.’ This happened to me three times, and then the whole thing was taken up again into heaven. The next instant, three men arrived at the house where we were staying, requesting that I return with them to Caesarea. The Spirit told me in no uncertain terms to go with these men and not to doubt His leading in this matter.

“These six brothers accompanied me and we went into the man’s house. He told us how an angel had appeared in his house, saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, surnamed Peter. He will give you a message which will save both you and your whole household.’ As I was beginning to tell them the Message, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He had on us at the beginning. Immediately I recalled that our Lord had told us, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ I figured that if God gave them exactly the same gift as He gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to get in the way of what God was doing?”

When they heard Peter’s story, they were convinced and they praised God, saying, “It’s obvious that God has given Gentiles the gift of repentance which leads to life!”


Because of the persecution which began following Stephen’s martyrdom in Jerusalem, the Message spread out as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, though exclusively among the Jews. However, some of the men, natives of Cyprus and Cyrene, shared the Good News of the Lord Jesus with Greeks in Antioch. The Lord blessed their efforts, and a large number turned to the Lord.

News of this reached the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to check it out. When he arrived in Antioch and saw the amazing grace of God at work, he was thrilled. He encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord, for he was a good man who trusted God for everything and lived by the promptings and power of the Holy Spirit. As a result, even more people became followers of the Lord.

Barnabas recognized the need for mature believers to help in the work, so he went to Tarsus to find Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch where for the next year they taught the growing congregation. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first given the name of “Christians” (a derogatory term meaning “Little Christs”).

Around this same time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them by the name of Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great worldwide famine.  So the disciples arranged to send relief to the brothers in Judea, each according to their resources. They asked Barnabas and Saul to take the contribution to the elders in Jerusalem.


It was around this same time that King Herod, in an attempt to please the Jewish leaders, arrested several believers. He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. During the feast of Unleavened Bread he put Peter in prison, intending to deal with him after the Passover celebration. Herod assigned four squads of soldiers, a total of sixteen men, to guard him. The church, meanwhile, prayed fervently for Peter.

On the night before Herod was planning to bring him out, Peter was asleep between two soldiers, chained with double chains, with guards standing watch in the doorway of the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and light filled the cell. He awakened Peter, tapping him on the side and said, “Quick! Get up!” The chains fell away and the angel said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.”  Peter did so. Then the angel told him, “Put on your coat now, and follow me.” Peter followed him out but thought it was all just a dream. They passed through the first and second guard-points and came to the iron gate that led out into the city.  The gate opened for them automatically. When they got to the street, the angel disappeared.

By this point Peter realized he was very much awake and said to himself, “How about that! The Lord has sent His angel to rescue me from the power of Herod and from all that the people are expecting. Won’t they be surprised!” He made his way to the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, where many had come together to pray. He knocked at the door, and a young maid named Rhoda came to answer it. As soon as she heard Peter’s voice, she got so excited that she ran back to tell everyone and left him standing outside. The group told her she was out of her mind, but she insisted that it was really him. They concluded that it must be his angel, an indication that he had died.

Meanwhile Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened it and let him in, they were shocked. Peter motioned to them to be quiet and explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. Then he said, “Go and tell James and the other brothers what has happened.” After this he left them and went on to another place.

You can imagine the confusion and consternation at the prison the next morning. The soldiers couldn’t imagine what happened to Peter. Herod had a search put out for him without success.  He cross-examined the guards and then ordered their execution. After that, Herod left Judea and went down to Caesarea and stayed there.

While Herod was at his summer palace, representatives from Tyre and Sidon came to win his favor because, in his anger, he had been withholding food supplies from them. After much effort they convinced his personal assistant, Blastus, to schedule a meeting with the king. On the appointed day they met in the Coliseum. When Herod arrived dressed in royal robes, he took his seat on the throne and addressed the crowd. The people, desperate to impress him, kept interrupting his speech with shouts of, “The voice of a god, the voice of a god, this is no mere man!” Herod relished the praise and didn’t contradict their flattery. Because he failed to give glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him with a terrible disease.  He died a short time later, his insides eaten by worms.

But the Message of the Lord prospered and multiplied. Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch after taking the financial gift to Jerusalem, and they brought John Mark back with them.