Kefa Performs More Miracles

In my last post, we learned about the Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim. In this post, we learn about that Kefa Performs More Miracles.

32 As Kefa traveled around the countryside, he came down to the believers in Lud (Lydda).

The narrative in Acts returns to Kefa. The last reference to him was in connection with his return from Shomron (8:25). Lud is on the plain below Yerushalayim, about 10 miles east of Yafo and modern Tel Aviv and less than two miles from David Ben-Gurion Airport. Today it has a mixed Arab and Jewish population.

Yafo, now joined with Tel Aviv, was a prosperous port city, about eleven miles from Lud. It was about 30 miles south of Caesarea Maritima and controlled one of Judea’s administrative districts. It was under Jewish control for about forty years until it came under direct Roman authority in 6 CE.

33 There, he found a man named Aeneas who had lain bedridden for eight years because he was paralyzed.

Jewish piety included visiting the sick. Although Aeneas is a familiar Gentile name, several Jews also bore it (which seems likelier here). Aeneas could have been paralyzed from a stroke or another problem with the central nervous system, or an accident (such as a fall from a roof), or tuberculosis affecting the spine, or from some other cause. Apart from massaging the person with olive oil, little treatment was available. [1]

34 Kefa said to him, “Aeneas! Yeshua, the Messiah is healing you! Get up and make your bed!” 35 Everyone living in Lud and the Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now in Yafo, there was a talmidah (female disciple) named Tavita 36 (which means “gazelle”); she was always doing tzedakah (charitable works) and other good deeds. 37 It happened that just at that time, she took sick and died. After washing her, they laid her in a room upstairs.

Jewish dead were always washed before burial. Only women prepared women’s bodies for burial.

38 Lud is near Yafo, and the talmidim had heard that Kefa was there, so they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come to us without delay.”

It is vital that Lud is near Yafo because corpses had to be buried right away (ideally before sundown). The distance of fewer than twelve miles meant perhaps roughly four hours’ journey each way (for the messengers to Kefa and Kefa to Yafo); because it was customary to bury the corpse before sundown, even if Tabitha had died early in the day, they could afford no delay.

So powerfully had God worked wonders through Kefa and the other emissaries that even when Tavita died and had been ceremonially washed and laid… in a room upstairs for viewing, Believers in Yafo did not give up hope but instead sent for Kefa.

39 Kefa got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him into the upstairs room. All the widows stood by him, sobbing, and showing all the dresses and coats Tavita had made them while she was still with them.

Upstairs rooms were generally small attics built on the flat rooftops; this one is large enough to accommodate a few people. Making clothing was one of the domestic tasks assigned to women in that culture.

40 But Kefa put them all outside, kneeled down, and prayed. Then, turning to the body, he said, “Tavita! Get up!” She opened her eyes, and on seeing Kefa, she sat up.

Following Jewish scruples, Tavita’s body would be covered before Kefa is brought into the room.

41 He offered her his hand and helped her to her feet; then, calling the believers and the widows, he presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Yafo, and many people put their trust in the Lord.43 Kefa stayed on in Yafo for some time with a man named Shim’ on, a leather-tanner. ~ Acts 9:32-43 (CJB)

Shim’ on the leather-tanner stank all the time; his profession guaranteed it. Kefa’s unpretentiousness, his straightforward identification with ordinary folks, is demonstrated by his staying on in Yafo for some time with him; in modern Hebrew slang, Kefa would be called “‘ amkha” (“your [kind of] people”).

Tanners were often considered impure because of their contact with dead animals. This indicates that either Jewish law on this practice had relaxed by this era, or else that Kefa was already enjoying freedom from the Jewish law because of his liberty in Yeshua.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the actual conversion of the First Gentile Believers.

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[1] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim

In my last post, we learned that the Emissaries Are Rounded Up Yet Again and Warned by the Sanhedrin. In this post, we learn about a Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim.

Following the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, there arose intense persecution against the Messianic Community in Yerushalayim; all but the emissaries were scattered throughout the regions of Y’hudah and Shomron. ~ Acts 8:1 (CJB) Picking up the story in verse 14: When the emissaries in Yerushalayim heard that Shomron (Samaria) had received the Word of God, they sent them Kefa [1] and Yochanan, 15 who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Ruach HaKodesh. 16 For until then, he had not come upon any of them; they had only been immersed into the name of the Lord Yeshua.17 Then, as Kefa and Yochanan placed their hands on them, they received the Ruach HaKodesh.

From a theological standpoint, the work of the Ruach HaKodesh is one spiritual process (Ac 2:38-39). Still, in the experience of the early Kehilah, not all aspects of His work are necessarily manifested simultaneously. Luke emphasizes the prophetic empowerment dimension of the Ruach (Ac 1:8) so much that he rarely mentions other aspects of the Ruach’s work known in the Tanakh and early Judaism; this prophetic empowerment aspect could be in view here, although Philip’s hearers were already converted in 8:12.

Ancient Judaism provides rare examples of laying on of hands for prayer. In the Tanakh, hands were laid on to impart blessings in prayer (Gen 48:14-20). Early converts received the Ruach HaKodesh at the laying on of hands by emissaries or evangelists. Some suggest that this was God’s plan to ensure that new believers received trustworthy instruction and got connected to God’s chosen leaders.

18 Shim’on saw that the Spirit was given when the emissaries placed their hands on them, and he offered them money. 19 “Give this power to me, too,” he said, “so that whoever I place my hands on will receive the Ruach HaKodesh.”

Here we see Shim’on’s true heart. He was used to impressing the crowds with magic; now, he wanted to impress them with his ability to impart the Ruach HaKodesh.

20 But Kefa said to him, “Your silver go to ruin – and you with it, for thinking the free gift of God can be bought! 21 You have no part at all in this matter; because, in the eyes of God, your heart is crooked. 22 So repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord. Perhaps you will yet be forgiven for holding such a thought in your heart.

By saying that Shim’on had no part at all in this matter, Kefa confirmed that Shim’on had not truly converted to Messianic Judaism. His heart (meaning his will, affections, allegiance) was still crooked.

23 For I see that you are extremely bitter and completely under the control of sin!” 24 Shim ‘on answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that none of the things you have spoken about will happen to me.”

It is not clear whether Shim’on’s words sprang from genuine repentance or were themselves only more sham, deception, and hypocrisy.

25 Then, after giving a thorough witness and speaking the Word of the Lord, Kefa and Yochanan started back to Yerushalayim, announcing the Good News to many villages in Shomron.” ~ Acts 8:14-25 (CJB)

After several episodes in Shomron, Kefa, Philip, and any other emissaries traveling with them returned to Yerushalayim. They evangelized many villages in Shomron along the way, tearing down ethnic barriers with the global gospel of Yeshua.

In my next post, we will jump forward to Acts 9 to learn that Kefa Performs More Miracles.

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[1] This is another example of Kefa being seen as the early leader of the emissaries.​

Emissaries Are Rounded Up Yet Again And Warned by the Sanhedrin

In my last post, we learned that the Emissaries Perform Many Signs and Miracles and Are Jailed Again. In this post, we learn that the Emissaries Are Rounded Up Yet Again and Warned by the Sanhedrin.

21b Now the Cohen HaGadol and his associates came and called a meeting of the Sanhedrin (that is, of Isra’el’s whole assembly of elders) and sent to the jail to have them brought. 22 But the officers who went did not find them in the prison. So they returned and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked and the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened it, we found no one inside!”

These guards are fortunate that they are Levites policing for the Jewish Temple aristocracy rather than recruits under the Romans or Herod Agrippa I, who might have executed them (see 12:18-19).

24 When the captain of the Temple police and the head cohanim heard these things, they were puzzled and wondered what would happen next. 25 Then someone came and reported to them, “Listen! The men you ordered put in prison are standing in the Temple court, teaching the people!”

Such events would cause these leaders to lose face further.

26 The captain and his officers went and brought them, but not with force because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

The Temple police were afraid of being stoned by the people because Yerushalayim was responding positively to the emissaries. Meanwhile, the Jewish leaders saw their authority slipping away.

27 They conducted them to the Sanhedrin, where the Cohen HaGadol demanded of them, 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name! Look here! you have filled Yerushalayim with your teaching; moreover, you are determined to make us responsible for this man’s death!”

At the time of Herod Agrippa, all but three of the seventy members of the Sanhedrin were Tz’dukim. Therefore in suppressing the Gospel the Sanhedrin was judging it by two Sadducee criteria: (1) it proclaimed the resurrection, which the Tz’dukim denied, and (2) it proclaimed “another king, Yeshua,” which, if true, would be politically subversive, as well as destructive of the cozy, working relationship the Tz’dukim had with the occupying Romans.

The charge against the emissaries is that they are trying to incite unrest against the municipal aristocracy, which the Romans approved, by accusing them of responsibility for Yeshua’s execution. They were more concerned about maintaining their authority than embracing the truth.

29 Kefa and the other emissaries answered, “We must obey God, not men.

Believers should obey the law of the land, but when human law conflicts with God’s law, we must obey God, not men.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Yeshua, whereas you men killed Him by having him hanged on a stake.31 God has exalted this man at His right hand as Ruler and Savior, in order to enable Isra’el to do t’shuvah (repentance) and have her sins forgiven.32 We are witnesses to these things; so is the Ruach HaKodesh, whom God has given to those who obey him.” ~ Acts 5:21b-32 (CJB)

Kefa never wastes an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Here he knows he must be brief, for the Sanhedrin will not patiently endure a sermon. Yet his message always, even to these determined opponents, is one of hope, one who offers salvation. If anything, Kefa stepped up the pressure on the Sanhedrin (and endangered himself and the others more) by declaring that they had killed Yeshua, whom God has exalted this man at His right hand as Ruler and Savior. Kefa and the other emissaries knew this to be true because they were witnesses of this, as was the Ruach HaKodesh.

In my next post, we will jump forward to Acts 8 to learn that a Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim.

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Emissaries Perform Many Signs and Miracles and Are Jailed Again

In my last post, we learned that not all the Believers were in one accord as Kefa Confronts Hananyah and Shappirah. In this post, we learn that the Emissaries Perform Many Signs and Miracles and Are Jailed Again.

12 Meanwhile, through the emissaries, many signs and miracles continued to be done among the people. United in mind and purpose, the believers met in Shlomo’s Colonnade;

Undaunted by their previous arrest at the Temple (4:3), the emissaries continued to perform signs and miracles among the people they encountered in Shlomo’s Colonnade.

13 and no one else dared to join them. Nevertheless, the people continued to regard them highly; 14 and throngs of believers were added to the Lord, both men, and women.

No one else seems to refer to non-believers that than to other Believers. Many non-Jews attended synagogue and believed in Israel’s God without fully converting and keeping the Jewish Law. In context, people fear to associate with the movement without full commitment, knowing the fate of Hananyah and Shappirah.

15 They went so far as to bring the sick into the streets and lay them on mattresses and stretchers so that at least Kefa’s shadow might fall on them as he passed by. 16 Crowds also gathered from the towns around Yerushalayim, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and every one of them was healed.

Ancient people thought that one’s shadow was attached to oneself. In Jewish Law, for example, if one’s shadow touched a corpse, one was as unclean as one who physically touched the corpse. Some Greeks felt that one could suffer harm through injury to one’s shadow.

What sounds to modern ears like a charlatan’s stunt not only reflected genuine faith but was rewarded by complete healing success. Does God heal miraculously today? Some people suppose that all healing ministries are run by fakers pursuing money. We have seen too many instances of that in our recent past. But even physicians who believe neither in God nor in miracles will attest to extraordinary and inexplicable cures for which they deserve n credit, and they will agree that the label “psychosomatic” will go only so far in accounting for them. In other words: Yes, God still heals.

There are several places in the Brit Hadashah, including Acts, where God heled people through surprising means. Besides Kefa’s shadow, these included the hem of Yeshua’s robe (LK 8:44) as well as facecloths and aprons that the Rabbi Sha’ul had touched (Ac 19:12). There was, of course, nothing special about these items; instead, it was the power of God working through the messengers with whom the objects were associated.

17 But the Cohen HaGadol and his associates, who were members of the party of the Tz’dukim, were filled with jealousy.

The Tz’dukim (Sadducees) were politically powerful but never gained the popularity that the P’rushim enjoyed. The Cohen HaGadol and his associates opposed the spread of Messianic Judaism, not merely because they didn’t believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, but because they were filled with jealousy at the following that was building around Him daily as the emissaries preached and performed miracles.

18 They arrested the emissaries and put them in the public jail.

Jails were typically used for detention until trial, not for imprisonment as a punishment. The Roman garrison in this period controlled the Fortress Antonia on the Temple Mount; the Levite Temple police thus jailed the emissaries in a different location, though it might also be near the Temple.

19 But during the night, an angel of Adonai opened the doors of the prison, led them out and said, 20 “Go, stand in the Temple court and keep telling the people all about this new life!”

Having been arrested again for their ministry in Yeshua’s name, the emissaries were set free by an angel of Adonai in such a way that aroused no attention. Some speculate that they were transported directly from the jail to the Temple court, but the fact that the angel opened the doors of the prison and told the emissaries to stand in the Temple court suggests otherwise. We will see a similar episode with Kefa in Acts12:6-10.

21 After hearing that, they entered the Temple area about dawn and began to teach. Now the Cohen Hagadol and his associates came and called a meeting of the Sanhedrin (that is, of Isra’el’s whole assembly of elders) and sent to the jail to have them brought. ~ Acts 5:12-21a (CJB)

The gates of the Temple opened at midnight, but people returned only at daybreak. The hearing for the emissaries had been scheduled for daylight because trials were not to be held at night. Newly freed, we might expect the emissaries to flee Yerushalayim. Instead, they entered the Temple are about dawn and began to do the very thing that had gotten them in trouble in the first place: teach about Yeshua.

In my next post, we learn that the Emissaries Are Rounded Up Again to Be Warned by the Sanhedrin.

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Kefa Confronts Hananyah and Shappirah

In my last post, we learned that The Body of Believers Begin to Share Everything. In this post, we learn that not all were of one accord as Kefa Confronts Hananyah and Shappirah.

1 But there was a man named Hananyah who, with his wife Shappirah, sold some property 2 and, with his wife’s knowledge, withheld some of the proceeds for himself, although he did bring the rest to the emissaries.

The sin of Hananyah and Shappirah was not that they reserved some of the proceeds for themselves but that they tried to create the impression that they had not.

3 Then Kefa said, “Why has the Adversary so filled your heart that you lie to the Ruach HaKodesh and keep back some of the money you received for the land? 4 Before you sold it, the property was yours; and after you sold it, the money was yours to use as you pleased. So, what made you decide to do such a thing? You have lied not to human beings but to God!”

You lie to the Ruach HaKodesh…. you have lied… to God. The Ruach HaKodesh is thus identified with God. Hananyah and Shappirah assumed they were merely lying to the emissaries, but in reality, they had lied to God Himself. Kefa’s question the money was yours to use as you pleased implies that Hananyah and Shappirah would have been justified to sell the land and give only a portion to the community. Their sin lay in their deception and their desire to win praise.

In other words, Hananyah owned the land, and he hadn’t been forced to sell it. Even when he did sell it, he was not required to give the community the money. His sin was that he made a commitment to give all of the proceeds to meet the needs of others (like Bar-Nabba did) and then deceptively kept back some for himself – to the detriment of those in need.

5 On hearing these words, Hananyah fell down dead; and everyone who heard about it was terrified. 6 The young men got up, wrapped his body in a shroud, carried him out, and buried him.

In the present incident and below, we see that the Brit Hadashah is, so far as justice and judgment are concerned, the same as the TanakhGod is One. He cannot abide with sin. Fraud is a sin, and it is punished. Sometimes the punishment for sin is delayed, but in this instance, the immediacy of the judgment showed everyone that God is real and means business. Love is not a feeling but right action, as Judaism has always taught. Children let us not love with words and talk, but with actions and in reality! (1 John 3:18)

7 Some three hours later, his wife came in, unaware of what had happened. 8 Kefa challenged her: “Tell me, is it true that you sold the land for such-and-such a price?” “Yes,” she answered, “that is what we were paid for it.” 9 But Kefa came back at her, “Then why did you people plot to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The men who buried your husband are at the door. They will carry you out too!” 10 Instantly she collapsed at his feet and died. The young men entered, found her there dead, carried her out, and buried her beside her husband.

The deception of Hananyah and Shappirah, and in particular Shappirah’s lie to Kefa, was again a test of the Spirit of the Lord. This is a powerful indication of the Ruach’s role in the community and its leadership; Kefa was a mere man, but he was God’s man to lead this fellowship of believers.

Shappirah condemned herself by following her husband into sin and telling the same lie and dropped dead, just like Hananyah.

The marriage bond ought to be the strongest of human relationships. Yet it must never trump a relationship with God. Though a husband is to love his wife sacrificially and a wife is to submit to the leadership of her husband, neither is to follow the other into sin. Our relationship with and commitment to God must always be primary.

11 As a result of this, great fear came over the whole Messianic community, and indeed over everyone who heard about it. ~ Acts 5:1-11 (CJB)

As a result of what happened to Hananyah and Shappirah, great fear came over the whole Messianic community, and indeed over everyone who heard about it. It was evident to everyone that the supernatural work of God was operating in the emissaries’ ministry; therefore, people who hadn’t been taking God seriously before were taking him seriously after that. Church discipline, in fact, is designed to encourage believers to take God seriously concerning sin.

In my next post, we will learn that the Emissaries Perform Many Signs and Wonders and Are Jailed Again.

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The Body of Believers Begin to Share Everything

In my last post, we learned that after being freed, Kefa and Yochanan Attend a Prayer Meeting. In this post, we pick up with Acts 4:32 to learn that The Body of Believers Begin to Share Everything. Although Kefa is not mentioned in this passage, I felt it essential to lay a firm foundation for when we next encounter him.

32 All the many believers were one in heart and soul, and no one claimed any of his possessions for himself, but everyone shared everything he had. 33 With great power, the emissaries continued testifying to the resurrection of the Lord Yeshua, and they were all held in high regard.

Notice how the early community of Believers is described: They were one in heart and soul. Unity among the people of God is critical for the revealing of the visible manifestation of His glory. It is what Yeshua prayed for (see John 17:23-23), and it what these first Believers demonstrated and what Sha’ul insisted on (see Eph. 4:3). When there is disunity, the Ruach does not work.

They were all held in high regard by the non-believing Jews, as at Acts 2:47. Nevertheless, thinking positively of Believers is not enough to save unbelievers. Or, saying the same thing in the words of Isra’el’s former Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, “There is a great difference between gathering a good impression and taking the correct view.” [1]

34 No one among them was poor, since those who owned lands or houses sold them and turned over the proceeds 35 to the emissaries to distribute to each according to his need.

As long as there was complete unanimity of purpose and intention among them, the early Believers shared the proceeds from their possessions freely to each according to his need. They were able to do this not because of their strength, but because great grace was on all of them. Therefore, the generosity was, above all, a work of God. Yet, we will learn that trouble is coming.

36 Thus Yosef, whom the emissaries called Bar-Nabba (which means “the Exhorter”), a Levi, and a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field which belonged to him and brought the money to the emissaries~ Acts 4:32-37 (CJB)

Yosef, whom the emissaries called Bar-Nabba. The Exhorter translates the Greek phrase, which can mean “son of counsel,” “son of exhortation,” or “son of encouragement.” Aramaic Bar (“son of”) often has the sense, “one who has the quality of.” The word Nabba is related to the Hebrew root meaning “prophet,” and a prophet is own who counsels, comforts, exhorts, and encourages. Yosef was always comforting and exhorting his fellow talmidim, so the emissaries gave him the nickname. He becomes a prominent figure in Acts 9-15.

Bar-Nabba’s generosity is set in stark contrast to the couple Luke describes next.

In my next post, we will learn that not all Believers were willing to share all that they had by looking at Kefa Confronts Hananyah and Shappirah.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary

Kefa and Yochanan Attend a Prayer Meeting

In my last post, we completed the mini-series of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 5. In this post, we pick up where we left off in our last series, where we learn that after being freed, Kefa and Yochanan Attend a Prayer Meeting.

23 Upon being released, they went back to their friends and reported what the head cohanim and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard it, they raised their voices to God with singleness of heart. “Master,” they prayed, “You made heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them.

Why, at the beginning of their prayer, do these Messianic Jews remind God that He made heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them? Not only because it is pointless for mere human beings to fight God (vv. 25-28 see below), but because the talmidim are praying that God will sovereignly give the Messiah’s slaves (see v. 29) power to speak [God’s] message with boldness (vv. 29-31).

25 By the Ruach HaKodesh, through the mouth of our father David, your servant, you said,

‘Why did the nations rage and the peoples devise useless plans? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers assembled together against Adonai and against his Messiah.’

The Book of Acts quotes the Greek of the Septuagint. The Hebrew for Psalm 2:1-2 reads:

Why are the nations in an uproar?
And why do the peoples mutter in vain?

The kings of the earth arise
And the rulers take counsel together
Against Adonai and against his Messiah.

Jewish writings often call attention to a text by citing its beginning; therefore, the reader should understand that the Believers’ prayer of vv. 24-30 is permeated by all of Psalm 2, not just its initial verses. Jewish as well as Christian expositors have seen Psalm 2 as Messianic.

27 “This has come true in this city, since Herod and Pontius Pilate, with Goyim and the peoples of Isra’el, all assembled against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you made Messiah, 28 to do what your power and plan had already determined beforehand should happen.

Goyim and the peoples of Isra’el had united in opposition to God’s holy Servant Yeshua and His followers. Then and now, Believers take comfort in knowing that Yeshua’s sufferings (as well as our own) are not by chance but are determined by God.

29 “So now, Lord, take note of their threats; and enable your slaves to speak your message with boldness!

The early Believers recognized that just as Yeshua had been promised trouble, they too would encounter persecution for proclaiming Him as Messiah. They asked God for the power to speak your message with boldness, even if the punishment should follow.

30 Stretch out your hand to heal and to do signs and miracles through the name of your holy servant Yeshua!”

Besides boldness in testifying, the early Believers expected to receive power from God to heal and to do signs and miracles through the name of your holy servant Yeshua!”

31 While they were still praying, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, and they spoke God’s message with boldness.

They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh. Some of them had been filled before (2:4), but Ephesians 5:18 instructs Believers to keep being filled with the Ruach. They spoke God’s message with boldness. This is a sure sign of being filled with the Ruach, and it is also the purpose of the filling (1:8). A word of caution: this verse should not be used as a proof text for speaking in tongues. That’s not the context.

32 All the many believers were one in heart and soul, and no one claimed any of his possessions for himself, but everyone shared everything he had. ~ Acts 4:23-32 (CJB)

In my next post, we will expand on verse 32 when we learn that sharing everything leads to trouble in the Body of Believers.

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Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 5

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4. In this post, we conclude the mini-series of the Disabled Beggar when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

13 When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were, even though they were untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, they were amazed; also, they recognized them as having been with Yeshua.

When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were,… they were amazed. These “hicks” from the Galil dared to address the core of the establishment and tell them they were wrong! It was the Ruach HaKodesh at work in believers who gave such boldness, and He does the same today.

Untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, literally, “people of the land,” just ordinary folks, not systematically educated in the Scriptures and the traditions of either the P’rushim or the Tz’dukim (who together constituted the Sanhedrin’s membership). Jewish people have always had high regard for education, and “education” used to mean education in religious matters primarily. Thus, an untrained ‘am-ha’aretz would be guaranteed low social status, and little would be expected of him. The members of the Sanhedrin could easily spot these Galileans by their up-country accents as persons unlikely to be delivering religious truth. But the Galileans’ lack of training did not affect the truth of their message: there are uneducated pundits and educated fools.

14 Moreover, since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there beside them, there was nothing they could say to discredit the healing. 15 So they told them to step away from the Sanhedrin while they discussed the matter privately. 16 “What can we do with these men?” they asked each other. “Why, anyone in Yerushalayim can see that a remarkable miracle has come about through them – we can’t possibly deny that.

Both the talmidim and the Sanhedrin recognize that there is no valid basis for a legal charge. Still, as custodians of the Temple, they had the police power to control what they consider subversive teachings on what they consider their grounds. Yet rather than repent and believe they focused on damage control.

17 But to prevent it from spreading any further among the people, let’s warn them not to speak any more to anyone in this name.”

They sought to halt the spread of Messianic Judaism at all costs, so they warned them not to speak any more to anyone in this name. It seems they wished to guard their status as religious authorities even at the expense of undeniable truth.

Verse 17 raises an interesting question. How can Luke ( the author of the Book of Acts) know what went on behind locked doors? We know that Yosef of Ramatayim was both a Believer and a member of the Sanhedrin (Mk 15:43); Nakdimon, also a secret Believer, was probably in the Sanhedrin too (Jn 7:50). In all likelihood, in his research (Lk 1:3), he would have consulted them or other Sanhedrin members who came to faith later.

18 So they called them in again and ordered them under no circumstances to speak or teach in the name of Yeshua. 19 But Kefa and Yochanan answered, “You must judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God. 20 As for us, we can’t help talking about what we have actually seen and heard.”

Kefa and Yochanan’s reference to what they had seen and heard included their experiences with Yeshua plus what they had witnessed since Shavuot. All told, they had been eyewitnesses to many of God’s revelatory acts.

21 They threatened them some more but finally let them go – they couldn’t punish them because of the people, for everyone was praising God over what had happened, 22 since the man who had been miraculously healed was more than forty years old. ~ Acts 4:13-22 (CJB)

Although the Sanhedrin backed down, they do not admit wrongdoing, which would be a matter of shame.

In my next two posts, we learn more about the last two of the fall High Holy Days.

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Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 4

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3. In this post, we Kefa and Yochanan Are Arrested.

1 Kefa and Yochanan were still speaking to the people when the cohanim, the captain in charge of the Temple police, and the Tz’dukim [1] came upon them, 2 very annoyed that they were teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and offering Yeshua as proof. 3 The Temple police arrested them, and since it was already evening, they put them in custody overnight.

No longer dealing with someone overturning tables in the Temple, the aristocracy is content to follow the law and wait till the next day to try them (night trials were illegal, and most businesses of any regular sort stopped by sundown).

4 However, many of those who heard the message trusted; the number of men alone was about five thousand.

Repeated attempts to suppress the Messianic message only caused it to spread more quickly. On Pesach morning, the Believers in Yerushalayim only numbered 120. In response to Kefa’s sermon that day, another 3,000 were added. Now, with the healing of the disabled man, Kefa’s sermon, and their arrest, the community grew to about 5,000.

5 The next day, the people’s rulers, elders, and Torah-teachers (the Sanhedrin)assembled in Yerushalayim, 6 along with ‘Anan the Cohen HaGadol, Kayafa, Yochanan, Alexander and the other men from the family of the cohen HaGadol. 7 They had the emissaries stand before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

The parties listed in verses 5-6 represent all the most influential players in the Jewish religious establishment. They made Kefa and Yochanan stand before them, two men against all the powers of Isra’el. Ironic, therefore, that they asked them by what power they had performed the miracle and preached the Gospel.

8 Then Kefa, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people!

Kefa was filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, a necessary prelude to his successful confrontation with the Jewish religious establishment. We need to get plugged into that same power source whenever we share the Gospel.

9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done for a disabled person, if you want to know how he was restored to health, 10 then let it be known to you and to all the people of Isra’el that it is in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua from Natzeret, whom you had executed on a stake as a criminal but whom God has raised from the dead, that this man stands before you perfectly healed. 11 “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. (see Psalm 118:22) 12 There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!” ~ Acts 4:1-12 (CJB)

There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved! Kefa, here addressing Jews, not Gentiles, and speaking by inspiration of the Ruach HaKodesh, asserts that Yeshua is the only person by whom we (the Jewish people, both individually and collectively) must (there is no alternative) be saved (from eternal destruction and God’s fury due us for our sins). And if there is no other salvation for Jews, who already have wonderful promises from God, how much more is there no other salvation for Gentiles (see Acts 13:47-48; Romans 1:16).

In my next post, we continue with the aftermath of the healing of the man disabled since birth when Kefa and Yochanan Are Warned and Freed.

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[1] Tz’dukim (Sadducees) who denied resurrection from the dead.

Kefa Heals a Disabled Beggar ~ Part 3

In my last post, we continued with the aftermath of Kefa Heals a Crippled Beggar ~ Part 2. In this post, we hear Kefa Preach Repentance to those who marveled at the Beggar’s Healing.

17 “Now, brothers, I know that you did not understand the significance of what you were doing; neither did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what He had announced in advance when He spoke through all the prophets, namely, that His Messiah was to die.

After blaming his fellow Jews in vv. 13-15, Kefa again calls them brothers and mitigates his words by stating: you did not understand the significance of what you were doing. In the Torah, atonement avails only for unintended sins; for sins committed presumptuously, there is no atonement. Even the cohanim and P’rushim involved in the events leading up to Yeshua’s execution may be forgiven through trusting Yeshua, and some availed themselves of the opportunity (see Acts 6:7, 15:5). Kefa softened the message by stating this is how God fulfilled what he had announced in advance. The Messiah’s death does not end all hope; on the contrary, God intended Him to die, be resurrected, and return.

19 “Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased;

Repent and turn to God means: Change your mind and turn. But to the modern reader, this suggests changing religions from Judaism to Christianity, which is not what Kefa meant. For at that time, “Christianity” as such did not exist; there was Judaism with Yeshua and Judaism without Him (the same choice, along with the possibility of rejecting both, faces Jews today).

20 so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence, and He may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua.

The phrase times of refreshing means the Messianic Age. In these times of refreshing, self-rule will be restored to Isra’el, and the Messiah appointed in advance for you; namely, Yeshua, will return. Kefa’s audience, like today’s Orthodox Jews, expected the Messiah in the future. Kefa says that the very Messiah they expect is Yeshua goes on in the following verses to explain why He does not come at once.

21 He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God said long ago when He spoke through the holy prophets.

He has to remain in heaven at the right hand of God) until the time comes for restoring everything, both social and natural (see Isaiah 11:1-12, Romans 8:18-23) when Yeshua will come on the clouds of Heaven (see Daniel 7:13-14). Yeshua said the same thing at least twice quoting Daniel (see Mt 24:30, 26:64).

22 For Moshe, himself said, ‘Adonai will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You are to listen to everything He tells you. 23 Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed.’

This same passage from Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is also cited in Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:37. The P’rushim asked Yochanan the Immerser if he was the prophet foreseen in this passage (John 1:21). The five thousand whom Yeshua fed wondered the same thing, as did some of the crowd to whom he offered living water (John 7:40). Evidently, this passage from the Torah was widely understood then as Messianic, and people were looking for its fulfillment.

You are to listen to everything He (Yeshua, the prophet like Moshe) tells you. Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed. But what if the nation as a whole fails to listen? Then this becomes the kind of Torah violation which leads to the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. The destruction of the Temple (70 CE), the expulsion from Yerushalayim (135 CE) and the centuries of exile typify the punishments suffered by the Jewish people, not for deicide and not directly for rejecting Yeshua but for violating the Torah’s injunction to listen to the prophet like Moshe, who is Yeshua. But He can still be heard. He speaks through the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah. Those who heed him become part of Isra’el’s remnant (see Romans 9-11) and are not removed from the people.

24 Indeed, all the prophets announced these days, starting with Sh’mu’el and continuing through all who followed. 25 “You are the sons of the prophets, and you are included in the covenant which God made with our fathers when He said to Avraham, ‘By your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 So it is to you first that God has sent His servant whom He has raised up so that He might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways.” Acts 3:17-26 (CJB)

You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant with… Avraham. The point is that for this very reason, it is to you first that God sent Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospel is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16). And it is with the Gospel of Yeshua that the promise of v. 25 is fulfilled, for that promise was made to Avraham and his son Yitzchak, and Yeshua is Himself the promised seed who brings the blessing. The blessing consists in turning each one of you from your evil ways.

Have you repented? Have you turned from your evil ways and put your trust in Yeshua as the Son of God? If not, the hour is drawing near when it will be too late. I believe that we are living at the beginning of the birth pangs of His soon return.

In my next post, we take a break from our series on Kefa to observe the first of the three fall feasts: Rosh Hashanah.

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