October 31, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Acts 11-12
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Context: The first part of chapter 11 continues Peter’s journey. He had been given a vision by the Lord to minister to the Gentiles and experience wonderful results. When he returns to Jerusalem to share the wonderful news, his brothers in Christ were critical of him, specifically the “circumcision party.” This group believed that to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, Gentiles must first be circumcised and follow all the laws of Moses. The Israelites were God’s chosen people and they were to obey the laws written down for them by Moses, yet here is Peter, flagrantly breaking the laws, as they saw it. Peter explained to them his vision. He was sent by God to show others that they were to minister and share salvation with all: Jews and Gentiles. The recognized the truth of what Peter was saying and praised the Lord. The execution of Stephen had caused many believers to flee and only preach to Jews. Yet the word of God spread to Jews and Gentiles alike. It is astonishing what He can do when we let Him work! Barnabas and Saul were sent to help the growing church in Antioch. Chapter 12 begins with the death of James and the arrest of Peter. An angel of the Lord helped Peter escape. Peter surprised his fellow believers by showing up on their doorstep! Herod was furious and put to death the prison guards assigned to watch Peter. Nearly a year after Peter’s escape, Herod was struck down after giving a public speech to which the people ascribed deity to him. Since Herod did not deny it, he was killed, painfully according to Jewish historians. (Luke writes this book in mostly chronological order, although he occasionally foregoes chronology in order to make a spiritual point. He also skips over large chunks of time).
World History: The Herod mentioned in this chapter is the grandson of Herod the Great, the man who attempted to kill Jesus as a child. This Herod is also the Herod which met with Jesus shortly before his death and helped to rebuild the temple.