John, 21:8 Epilogue:
Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.* This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),* Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said.
So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
At dawn Jesus
was standing on the beach, but the disciples -couldn’t see who- he was.
He called out, “Fellows,* have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
Then he said, “Throw out your net on the "right-hand side" of the boat,
and you’ll get some!”
So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there
were so many fish in it.
Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic
(for he had stripped for work),
jumped into the water, and headed to shore.
The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore,
for they were only about a hundred yards* from shore.
When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them--
fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,”
Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore.
There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
'Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said.
None of the disciples dared to ask him,
"Who are you?”
They knew it was the Lord.
Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.
This was the third time Jesus had appeared
to his disciples
since he had been raised from the dead.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?* ”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said,
"Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
"Then feed my sheep.
18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others* will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers* that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.
25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.
Acts of the Apostles
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
In my first book* I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with* water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
The Ascension of Jesus
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
Matthias Replaces Judas
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile.* 13 When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.
Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). 14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.
During this time, when about 120 believers* were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. 16 “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 17 Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”
(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. 19 The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)
20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’*
'So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus—22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.
The Holy Spirit Comes
On the day of Pentecost* all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,* as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” They stood there amazed and perplexed.
“What can this mean?” they asked each other.
But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying,
"They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
Peter Preaches to the Crowd
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’*
'People of Israel, listen!
God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene* by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed.
With the help of lawless Gentiles,
you nailed him to a cross and killed him.
But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life,
for death could not keep him in its grip.
King David said this about him:
‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead*
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’*
“Dear brothers, think about this!
You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead
or allow his body to rot in the grave.
“God raised Jesus from the dead,
and we are all witnesses of this.
Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven,
at God’s right hand.
And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.
For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.” ’*
'So let everyone in Israel know for certain that
God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified,
to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Peter’s words pierced their hearts,
and they said to him and to the other apostles,
“Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away* —all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
The Believers Form a Community
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper* ),
and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity* --all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar
Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter,
he asked them for some money.
Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money.
But Peter said,
“I don’t have any silver or gold for you.
But I’ll give you what I have.
In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,*
get up and* walk!”
Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up.
And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk!
Then, walking, leaping, and praising God,
he went into the Temple with them.
All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.
Peter Preaches in the Temple
Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this.
This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer.
You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
And we are witnesses of this fact!
'Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed--and
you know how crippled he was before.
Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him
before your very eyes.
'Friends,* I realize that what you and your
leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance.
But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had
foretold about the Messiah—that he
must suffer these things.
Now repent of your sins and turn to God,
so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.
For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.
Moses said, ‘
"The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet
like me from among your own people.
Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’*
Then Moses said,
‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely
cut off from God’s people.’*
'Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about
what is happening today.
You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants* all the families on earth will be blessed.’
When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he
sent him first to you people of Israel,
to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”
Peter and John before the Council
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees.
These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead.
They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000.
The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest.
They brought in the two disciples and demanded,
“By what power,
or in whose name, have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,
said to them,
“Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,* the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.
For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders
rejected has now become the cornerstone.’*
There is salvation in no one else!
God has given no other name under heaven by which
we must be saved.”
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.
They also recognized them as men
who had been with Jesus.
But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber* and conferred among themselves.
'What should we do with these men?” they asked each other.
"We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.”
So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John replied,
"Do you think God wants us to obey
you rather than him?
We cannot stop telling about everything
we have seen and heard.”
The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.
The Believers Pray for Courage
As soon as they were freed, Peter and John
returned to the other believers
and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.
When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God:
"O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them--you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,
‘Why were the nations so angry?
Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah.’
“In fact, this has happened here in this very city!
For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through
the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they
were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
Then they preached the word of God
The Believers Share Their Possessions
All the believers
were united in heart and mind.
And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and God’s great blessing was upon them all.
There were no needy people among them,
because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).
He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.
He sold a field he owned and
brought the money to the apostles.
Ananias and Sapphira
But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.
With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart?
You lied to the Holy Spirit,
and you kept some of the money for yourself.
The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away.
How could you do a thing like this?
You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died.
Everyone who heard about it was terrified.
Then some young men got up,
wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
Peter asked her,
“Was this the price
you and your husband
received for your land?”
“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”
And Peter said,
“How could the two of you even think
to test the Spirit of the Lord like this?
The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door,
and they will carry you out, too.”
Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.
The Apostles Heal Many
The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.
And all the believers were meeting regularly
at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade.
But no one else dared to join them, even though
all the people had high regard for them.
Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.
As a result of the apostles’ work,
sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil* spirits, and they were all healed.
The Apostles Meet Opposition
The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees,
were filled with jealousy.
They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
But an angel of the Lord came at night,
opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out.
Then he told them,
"Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”
So at daybreak the apostles entered the Temple, as they were told, and immediately began teaching.
When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council* —the full assembly of the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail for trial.
But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, :The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!”
When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. Then someone arrived with startling news:
“The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple,
teaching the people!”
The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them.
“We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said.
“Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem
with your teaching about him,
and you want to make us responsible for his death!”
But Peter and the apostles replied,
“We must obey God rather than any human authority.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross.*
Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand
as Prince and Savior.
He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven.
We are witnesses of these things
and so is the Holy Spirit,
who is given by God to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!
Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas,
who pretended to be someone great.
About 400 others joined him, but he was killed,
and all his followers went their various ways.
The whole movement came to nothing.
After him, at the time of the census, there was
Judas of Galilee.
He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too,
and all his followers were scattered.
'So my advice is,
leave these men alone. Let them go.
If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own,
it will soon be overthrown.
But if it is from God,
you will not be able to overthrow them.
You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”
The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go.
The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had
counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.
And every day, in the Temple and
from house to house,
they continued to teach and preach this message:
“Jesus is the Messiah.”
Seven Men Chosen to Serve
But as the believers* rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent.
The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.
So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers.
"We apostles should spend our time
teaching the word of God,
not running a food program.
And so, brothers, select seven men who are
and are full of the Spirit and wisdom.
We will give them this responsibility.
Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer
and teaching the word.”
Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen
(a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.
So God’s message continued to spread.
The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem,
and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
Stephen Is Arrested.
Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him.
They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia.
None of them could stand against
the wisdom and the Spirit with
which Stephen spoke.
So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying,
“We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.”
This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law.
So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.*
The lying witnesses said,
“This man is always speaking against the holy Temple
and against the law of Moses.
We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth* will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen,
because his face became as bright as an angel’s.
Stephen Addresses the Council
Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?”
This was Stephen’s reply:
“Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran.* God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’* So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died.
Then God brought him here to the land where you now live.
'But God gave him no inheritance here, not even one square foot of land. God did promise, however, that eventually the whole land would belong to Abraham and his descendants—even though he had no children yet. God also told him that his descendants would live in a foreign land, where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years.
'But I will punish the nation that enslaves them,’ God said,
‘and in the end they will come out and worship me here in this place.’
'God also gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision at that time.
So when Abraham became the father of Isaac, he circumcised him on the eighth day. And the practice was continued when Isaac became the father of Jacob, and when Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs of the Israelite nation.
'These patriarchs were jealous of their brother Joseph, and they sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. And God gave him favor before Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
God also gave Joseph unusual wisdom, so that Pharaoh appointed him governor over all of Egypt and put him in charge of the palace.
'But a famine came upon Egypt and Canaan. There was great misery, and our ancestors ran out of food. Jacob heard that there was still grain in Egypt, so he sent his sons—our ancestors—to buy some. The second time they went, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers,* and they were introduced to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent for his father, Jacob, and all his relatives to come to Egypt, seventy-five persons in all. So Jacob went to Egypt. He died there, as did our ancestors. Their bodies were taken to Shechem and buried in the tomb Abraham had bought for a certain price from Hamor’s sons in Shechem.
'As the time drew near when God would fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased. But then a new king came to the throne of Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. This king exploited our people and oppressed them, forcing parents to abandon their newborn babies so they would die.
'At that time Moses was born—a beautiful child in God’s eyes.
His parents cared for him at home for three months.
When they had to abandon him,
Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and raised him as her own son.
Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful
in both speech and action.
'One day when Moses was forty years old,
he decided to visit his relatives, the people of Israel.
He saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite. So Moses came to the man’s defense and avenged him, killing the Egyptian.
Moses assumed his fellow Israelites
that God had sent him to rescue them,
but they didn’t.
"The next day he visited them again and saw two men of Israel fighting.
He tried to be a peacemaker. ‘Men,’ he said,
"you are brothers."
Why are you fighting each other?’
'But the man in the wrong pushed Moses aside.
"Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’
he asked. '
"Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’
When Moses heard that, he fled the country and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian. There his two sons were born.
'Forty years later,
in the desert near Mount Sinai,
an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush.
When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight.
As he went to take a closer look, the voice of the Lordcalled out to him,
"I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’
Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look.
'Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them.
Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’*
'So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’
Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush,
God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior.
And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs,
he led them out of Egypt,
through the Red Sea,
and through the wilderness for forty years.
'Moses himself told the people of Israel,
"God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people.’*
Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God’s people
in the wilderness,
when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai.
And there Moses received life-giving words to pass on to us.*
'But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses.
They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt.
They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’
So they made an idol shaped like a calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made.
Then God turned away from them
and abandoned them
to serve the stars of heaven as their gods!
In the book of the prophets it is written,
‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings
during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel?
No, you carried your pagan gods—
the shrine of Molech,
the star of your god Rephan,
and the images you made to worship them.
So I will send you into exile
as far away as Babylon.’*
'Our ancestors carried the Tabernacle* with them through the wilderness.
It was constructed according to the plan God had shown to Moses.
Years later, when Joshua led our ancestors in battle against the nations that God drove out of this land, the Tabernacle was taken with them into their new territory.
And it stayed there until the time of King David.
'David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent Temple for the God of Jacob.*
But it was Solomon who actually built it.
However, the Most High
doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.
As the prophet says,
‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?’
asks the Lord.
‘Could you build me such a resting place?
Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?’*
'You stubborn people! You are heathen* at heart
and deaf to the truth.
Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit?
That’s what your ancestors did,
and so do you!
Name one prophet your ancestors
They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered.
You deliberately disobeyed God’s law,
even though you received it from the hands of angels.”
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation,
and they shook their fists at him in rage.*
full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing in
the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
Then they put their hands
over their ears and began shouting.
They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.
His accusers took off their coats and laid them
at the feet of a young man named Saul.*
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”
And with that, he died.
Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.
Persecution Scatters the Believers
A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered
through the regions of Judea and Samaria.
(Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)
But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church.
He went from house to house,
dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
Philip Preaches in Samaria
But the believers who were scattered
preached the Good News about Jesus
wherever they went.
Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the
miraculous signs he did.
Many evil* spirits were cast out,
screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
A man named Simon had been a sorcerer
there for many years,
amazing the people of Samaria and
claiming to be someone great.
Everyone, from the least to the greatest,
often spoke of him
as “the Great One—the Power of God.”
They listened closely to him because
for a long time
he had astounded them with his magic.
But now the people
believed Philip’s message of
concerning the Kingdom of God and the
name of Jesus Christ.
As a result, many men and women were baptized.
Then Simon himself believed and was baptized.
He began following Philip wherever he went,
and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that
the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message,
they sent Peter and John there.
As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them,
for they had
"only been baptized in the name
of the Lord Jesus."
Then Peter and John "laid their hands" upon these believers,
and they received the
Those who have ears to hear, let him hear.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people,
he offered them money to buy this power.
“Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed,
"so that when I lay my hands on people,
they will receive the Holy Spirit!”
Those who have ears to hear, let him hear.
But Peter replied,
“May your money be destroyed with you for thinking
God’s gift can be bought!
You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”
'Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”
After testifying and preaching
the word of the Lord
Peter and John returned to Jerusalem.
And they stopped in many Samaritan villages
along the way to preach the Good News.
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south* down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning.
Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud
from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah.
"Do you understand what you are reading?”
The man replied,
“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”*
The eunuch asked Philip,
was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?”
So beginning with this same Scripture,
Philip told him
the Good News about Jesus.
As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said,
“Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”*
He ordered the carriage to stop,
and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
When they came up out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away.
The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing.
Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus.
He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.