Team Hack #13: Three essentials for team leaders

J. Richard Chase was recently quoted in an article I read as saying: “Aristotle is credited with the concept that leadership requires character, competency and concern for others.” The short but important saying is helpful for all team leaders. In essence, there are three areas we must focus on mastering to successfully lead an effective team.

First, we must get good at being good (character). People are interested in following a person they believe in. They want someone who is living life by moral restraints that make them safe and reliable. They want to count on their leader. The bitterness of giving one’s self to a leader only to be betrayed by horrific character flaws was illustrated in a Presidency not so long ago. Some who ardently defended that President were the very people who were most hurt by his actions and subsequent cover-up.

Get good at doing good (competency). People want to follow a team leader that knows how to produce the desired result. Ineffective and inexperienced leaders frustrate the loyalty of followers. Nothing feels more fruitless than throwing yourself at a task for the team that you can predict will fail because it is stewarded by ineffective leaders. People will not stay engaged in fruitless efforts.

Get good at good giving (concern). People want to make a difference in the world. They hunger to leave a mark and help to fix a problem. When we give our team an opportunity to give to someone and transform the world of one less fortunate, we will immediately see the light in the eyes of each team member. They want to see someone have a better life because of their efforts.

Places in Acts – Appolonia – Acts 17:1

Paul and Silas passed through the small village of Apollonia on their way to Thessalonica, and may have lodged there. There is no evidence from Scripture that they preached or ministered there, as they seemed intent on moving directly to Thessalonica. The village of Apollonia in Macedonia was located along the Via Egnatia some thirty miles west (44 km.) of Amphipolis between the Strymon and the Axius (Vardar) Rivers. The village is recalled in a modern city by the same name today, though archaeologists doubt the location is exact. The wooded region in beautiful, filled with a variety of lakes and river beds, an ideal place to restock supplies on a journey.The name Apollonia was used of many ancient cities and villages. Apollonia of Illyria was perhaps the best known at that time, but not a city visited by Paul and Silas on the recorded journeys in Acts.

Commentary: Acts 3 and 4

Chapter Three and Four Outline:

I. Witness in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7)
<A-F in Chapters One and Two>
 G. An Astounding Healing (3:1-11)
H. Assembly at theTemple(3:12-26)
I. Anxious Leaders ofJudea(4:1-22)
J. Awesome Prayer and Power (4:23-37)


The new “Messianics” were becoming known in Jerusalem, and began to care for one another. One afternoon at the gate of the Temple, Peter and John healed a crippled beggar who was asking for help. This caused quite a stir, as the people recognized him from the many times they passed by him and now saw that he could walk. They gathered around Peter and he explained that the power that healed the man was the power of the risen Messiah! He told the people they were guilty of killing Jesus, but that they could be forgiven of their sins by repenting and turning to the Lord. Peter and John were swiftly arrested and brought before the Jewish religious authorities who questioned them about the healing. They could find no wrongdoing by Peter and John and could not deny the healing of the crippled man, but they wished them to cease causing a stir among the people. They threatened the two and sent them on their way, recognizing the numbers of Messianic followers of Jesus were swelling to about five thousand!

Commentary: Chapter Three

w3:1 “ninth hour”: refers to the time of the afternoon sacrifice. It should be translated “ninth hour of daylight”, or about 3 PM.

w3:1 “Temple”: The temple expansion of Herod the Great began in 19 BCE and was completed in 62 CE (long after the end of Herod’s death) only a few years before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Herod’s temple is called the “Second Temple” and was a redesign of the Zerubbabel temple of the return from Babylonian exile. In many respects similar to Solomon’s Temple (referred to as the First Temple).  The inside of Herod’s temple was lavishly decorated with Cedar paneling, carved with flowers, palm-trees and cherubim, covered with gold.  At the entrance to the temple, similar to Solomon’s Temple, stood the Altar for animal sacrifice, as well as the Laver.  As with Solomon’s Temple the priests entered through a large porch and into the main room, called the ‘Holy Place’.  In the Holy Place stood five pairs of Lamp-stands, the Table of Showbread and the Incense Altar.  The adjoining inner room was called the ‘Holy of Holies’ and was approached from the Holy Place.  In the “Most Holy Place” stood the Ark of the Covenant.

With this magnificent project Herod wanted to impress the Roman world, and also wanted to win the favor of his subjects.  Although built on the same plan as Solomon’s temple, it was twice as high and much more impressive, with a lot of gold being used to add to its splendor. Probably the most impressive feature was the great temple platform on which it was built, still in existence to this day.  The area of this platform measures approximately 35 acres. Covered cloisters ran right around the outer courtyards of Herod’s temple, with the main entrances from the south.  This entrance led to the “Court of the Gentiles”.  Notices along a dividing wall called the “Soreg” were placed in Greek and Latin and clearly warned Gentiles not to enter the inner courts of the Temple. The “Heckal” or building of the Temple proper, set inside the courts. Lined with gold along its top, the building was of magnificent construction.

w3:2 “Beautiful gate”: may be the gate access to the Women’s court, since that court is where money offerings of silver and gold were made. That would be a likely place for a beggar to sit. Some scholars note the possibility of the Nicanor gate as the site, but this seems less likely. The Nicanor Gate divided the Women’s court from the inner altar of the Temple, but the access was also used as the place of the Levitical choir.

w3:2-12 “lame”: Since this man had been crippled from birth, he may have never entered the inner courts of the Temple. Under Levitical law (see Lev. 21:16-23) only a priest was not able to enter the Temple with physical deformity. Some scholars note, however, that the rabbinic court appeared to limit access to others who were deformed in the Second Temple (inside the Heckal or Temple Building proper). It was possible that he used this vantage point at the gate of the Temple as a means to ask for money, as people knew he could never go in unless he was healed and would feel sympathetic towards him. He asked Peter and John for money as they approached the Temple. “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6). He was no doubt excited not only about being healed, but for the first time he could enter the Temple to worship God!

w3:22 “a prophet”: Some rabbinic scholars projected the coming of two individuals – the Messiah of Israel, and the Great Prophet to Israel (a possible reference to this may be found in Jn. 1:20ff). Peter argues the two are one: Jesus of Nazareth.

Commentary: Chapter Four

w4:1 “Sadducees”: (also Matt. 3:7; 16:1,6,11,12; 22:23,34; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 5:17; 23:6,7,8). This Jewish religious sect is only mentioned in the New Testament. Scholars believe it was formed between the return of the Jews from captivity (536 BCE) and 200 BCE. Evidence regarding them prior to the Babylonian exile has not been discovered anywhere in Israel. It is thought their name possibly originated from the high priest Zadok during David’s reign (2 Sam. 8:17; 15:24-29) or from another Levite named Zadok, whose ancestors the Lord said would serve at the altar in the new temple (Ezek. 40:46; 44:15). Others, suggest that the term “Sadducees” comes from a Zadok who was a follower of Antigonus of Socho (c. 250 BCE).

Josephus said the upper classes liked the Sadducees, especially the wealthy (Antiq. xiii. 10,6). Sadducees frequently disagreed with the Pharisees though they were sometimes obligated to work along side them (Acts 23:6; Antiq. xviii. 1,4). According to Josephus, the Sadducees felt that only the Word of God itself could be used as authoritative standard, while the Pharisees stood also on the teachings and oral traditions of their forefathers (Antiq. xiii. 10,6). The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife (Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8; Antiq. xviii. 1,4), or in the existence of spirits or angles (Acts 23:8), which seems odd given the fact of their strong Scriptural base. They might have taken this stance only to oppose the Pharisees (ibid.). Their other stance, which denied the idea of “fate”, allowed them to feel circumstances came from man’s own actions, whether good or bad (Antiq. xiii. 5,9; see also Jewish War, II.8,14). It seems the same two Sadducees of the household of Hanan (Annas and Caiaphas), acted against Jesus and the early Messianic followers (John 11:45-53; 18:13, 19-24; Acts 5:17-41).

w4:25 “mouth of David”: a quote of Ps. 2:1-2.

w4:32 “all thing in common”: The needs arose because many were away from home. At some later point the Temple stopped supplying needs for believers in Jesus (see Acts 6) and the need to establish more organized funds became important. There is no command that all believers should live as a commune. It is also noteworthy that the Jerusalem fellowship always characteristically lacked funds! Remember, the Book of Acts is a narrative, not an instruction. The point is NOT to get this methodology for church decision-making, it is a simple record of what they did. Some Scriptures are simple narratives (like Gideon and his fleece – cp. Judges 6-8). In such cases, one can appreciate the story without feeling the need to imitate it. See also Acts 2:44.

Places in Acts – Amphipolis – Acts 17:1

Paul passed by the supply-city of Amphipolis on his Second Missionary journey on his way to Thessalonica from Philippi. Some scholars pose the possibility that Paul lodged overnight there as part of a three-stage journey from Philippi to Thessalonica, but the text is not specific on this point. There is no record of his preaching there, and there was little tradition of a community of believers from the Apostolic ministry. It is likely the city was not evangelized until a generation after Paul, but nevertheless became an important Byzantine Christian site.

 Amphipolis was already one of the most important cities in ancient Macedonia;One ancient historian reported it was founded by the Athenian General Hagnon (son of Nicias) in about 436 BCE near a village called Ennea Hodoi. Thucydides also (History, 4:102) claims that Hagnon gave the city its name because “It was surrounded by the river Strymon which nearly encircled it.” Amphipolis may be translated a city pressed on all sides. It grew as an important trading center with Thrace and the village of Ennea probably became its port – though renamed Eion.


In the following century the city became independent but was soon taken up by Philip of Macedon as he expanded his power grip on Macedoniabefore moving south to control all of Greece in the fourth century BCE. After the battle of Pydna (168 BCE) the Romans took possession of the city, and made it the capital of Macedonia prima, the first of the four administrative districts of the Roman Province. The four districts were later broken up, as the system was deemed over organized and inefficient.


Under Roman rule during the time of Paul, it was a largely independent city and emerged as the home of the Roman governor of all Macedonia. It was located on the important Egnatian roadway some 53 km. southwest of Philippi (between Philippi and Thessalonica). That road connected the Adriatic passage to to the Hellespont and Asia.


Though not the first of the cities in the region to receive the Christian message, the city became the seat of the Bishop during the Byzantine times. This fact is attested in both the literature of the period before 692 CE and the archaeological evidence of four Christian basilicas found at the site. The proximity to the Pangean mines meant that Amphipolis became a trading center for silver and gold, but also had access to fine wool trades. The land itself was rich and produced oil and wine and wood.

Commentary: Acts 2

Chapter Two Outline:

I. Witness in Jerusalem(Acts 1-7)

<A-C in Chapter One>

D. Appearance of the Holy Spirit (2:1-13)

E. Assembly with Peter (2:14-40)

F. A New Fellowship (2:41-47)

Summary [Chapter 2]: A short time later on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were together inJerusalempraying and the Holy Spirit came upon them. This enabled them to tell the good news about the Lord in many languages that they had never learned before an international crowd of Jews gathered for the Feast. Peter followed the initial incident with an address to the excited and perplexed crowd explaining from the prophet Joel and from the words of David what had begun that day in their presence. He proclaimed salvation through faith in Messiah and more than three thousand people were saved.

Chapter Two

2:1 “Pentecost”: This is the Hebrew feast Shavuot literally translated “Weeks”. The feast marks the timing of the giving of the Torah to Moses onMt.Sinai. The rabbis associate this timing because of the key statements found in the Book of Exodus. A quick review of the book may help – in Exodus 1-3 God raised up Moses; in Ex.4-6 He took Moses through the seminary of the wilderness and brought him back; Ex.6-12 contains the ten plagues; Ex.12-15 Pharaoh changed his mind and chased after Moses and the people, the great sea is opened, the horse and rider of the Egyptians were swallowed up into the sea; by Ex.15 the party commences. God took the Israelites to Marah’s bitter waters, then to Elim where there are wonderful palm trees. Eventually God led them to the “Mountain of the Law” (ch.15-19). In Exodus, the scene followed the arrival at the mountain in Exodus 19, but “cut” to the text of the contents of the Law in Exodus 20–31. To follow the story, a student of the text must “jump” from chapter 19 to 32 to get to the next scene.

Exodus 12 states the people set out on the journey at Passover – the 14th/15th of the month of Nisan. Fifty days later they arrived at themountain ofSinai (Ex. 19). Thus Shavuot occurred fifty days after Pesach (a careful reading of Exodus 12 & 19 show the Israelites started out from Egypt and they ended at Sinai exactly fifty days later). This is the connection of Passover (Pesach) and Shavuot (Pentecost), and explains the name “fifty” chosen by the Greek translators of the Septuagint version. When the Israelites came to the mountain of the Law several events are recorded (Exodus 19:10-11). The people drew together all at one place and got washed and got cleaned.

All the Israelites were at the mountain. Boundaries were put around the mountain and when Moses went up on the mountain, he returned (after forty days) and found many Israelites having a party down at the bottom. Trace the story carefully from Exodus 19 to 32, and the elements are telling: when the Israelites got to the mountain there were strange winds, fire settled on the mountain and there was strange weather. Moses came off the mountain with the revelation of God and 3000 people were killed by the command of Moses by the sword of faithful Levites. They were executed because of their idolatry and debauchery before the Mountain of the Law.

The writer of Acts 2 (Luke) recounts the Pentecost setting as “Shavuot II – the sequel”. He is reminded of the story of the first Shavuot, as God revealed Himself at Sinai. He recalls the sound of wind, sees the “tongue-shaped” fire and recalls the strange weather that descended long ago onMt.Sinai. These details he recalled in the Upper Room as the next revelation of God was made known, the coming of the Holy Spirit to write the Law on the hearts of men, not merely on tablets of stone! He understood the Divine imagery and connection and supplied the detail that this time 3000 lived eternally, and did not experience the judgement the 3000 had experienced at Sinai! When the Torah came, it brought the knowledge of sin, and with it the knowledge of why men died. With the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 there was knowledge of life everlasting. The compilation of Exodus 19 & 32 should be compared to Acts 2, for that is Luke’s purpose in sharing the events at Shavuot. A full understanding of the earlier Shavuot is essential to understanding the narrative of Acts 2.

It would be easy for some to say the story is told to show that “law brings death” and the “Spirit brings life” – but that is not what the passage says at all. That characterizes the Torah as something negative, something the Biblical writer never did. In fact, the writers of the Scripture exclaimed “I love thy Law” and “the Law is perfect”. The narrative actually reveals that in the revelation of the written Torah of God came the knowledge of our own sinfulness; and in the knowledge of our own sinfulness, only those who violate it or refuse to observe those truths face the penalty because they were violating the truth. With the coming of the Spirit there was something different; it wasn’t just the Spirit aiding in obedience, it was the Spirit living within. Those who followed the revelation of God’s truth through the Spirit of God within lived eternally. The emphasis was not that with Torah came death; it was rather: with Torah came knowledge of how life should be with the One who would give His people life. In other words, the purpose of Torah was primarily life. Yet it was through the Spirit one could experience God on the most intimate, inner level.

Remember that God was not well understood to the Israelites when they reached the Mountain of the Law. Even Moses, when he stood at the bush long ago said, “I don’t even know what your name is”. Part of the purpose of the Torah was to expose the character of the living God, and that is how they came to understand what He was like. The promise of the New Covenant was that God would eventually write the Law on the hearts of men (Jer. 31-32).

2:3 “tongues” – this is the first occurrence of the term in the book of Acts. For other places this gift is used, see note on 19:6. In order to clarify the miraculous work of God in the narratives on tongues, it may be helpful to examine some of the terms used in the events:

First, the term “unknown” (in 1 Cor.14: 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27) is not in the original Greek manuscripts and is italicized to show it has been inserted to help the reader. As an insertion, the word is irrelevant to understanding the original intent.

Second, the term for the “tongue” is a translation of (a form of) the Greek term glossa. It was used as follows: 1. (Lexically) “the organ of speech or the noise that the organ (the tongue) makes; 2. (By implication) the language spoken by the mouth: note that Acts 2:6 uses the term as languages known to the audience. Acts 10 refers to the event as “the same as” what happened in Acts 2. This it must be a language as well. Acts 19:6 implies that the tongues were a part of the prophecy in the place, but is inconclusive. 1 Cor. 14:21 indicates that the “tongues” atCorinth relate to the quoted prophecies of the Old Covenant (Dt. 28:49 and Isaiah 28:11). In these prophecies, “other tongues” clearly refers to human languages spoken to nations other thanIsrael, for a witness to them.

Third, exception to the use of the term glossa for the miraculous tongue appears in the argument of 1 Cor. 12:10, 12:28, 14:10 and 14:28. The terms used are derived from the term genos translated “kinds”. The term is used to denote nationalities and races (cp. “stock” of Phil. 3:15). The implication is again a reference to known language that others among them understand. Based solely on New Testament language use, tongues appears to be a gift of “unlearned linguistic skill” to speak an actual known language without learning it. Though some scholars suggest this, it does not appear (linguistically) to refer to an “ecstatic utterance” of unintelligible sounds in any of the narratives, with the possible exception of the argument in 1 Cor. 12-14.

In addition to the terms, some helpful insight may be gained additional study of the context of “tongues passages” in the New Testament:

-There are passages where the term “Baptism of the Spirit” and speaking in tongues appear linked. In other passages, one of the two phenomena appears without the other. There does not appear to be a causative link between the two. Some scholars argue that 1 Cor. 12:13 seems to show that all believers have been baptized in the Spirit, yet the chapter goes on to ask, “Do all speak in tongues?” The implication is “Of course not!” If this interpretation is correct, there is no causative link between the Baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues except that they are both actions of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

-There is no Biblical connection between any specific gift and the spirituality of the one who operates in the gift. Corinthian believers had many gifts, yet the church suffered from sinful practices and was not at all “spiritual” in this sense. The gifts were helpful to build up the body, but did not immunize people from sin in any way. There is no cause to suggest that those who spoke in tongues were more “spiritual” in behavior than those who exercised other gifts in the church.

-There is no instruction for anyone in the church to impart specific gifts to others, though there are narratives that suggest such practices occurred in the time of the Apostles. Even at that time, it is doubtful that any human choice was involved in receiving specific gifts, but the use of that which God gave was a matter of obedience. A whole church may pray for gifted individuals to be sent from God in areas where they lack. The instruction of Paul in 1 Cor. 12:31 to “covet earnestly the best gifts” was not for individuals, but is addressed to the whole church, as the Greek “you” in the command is plural, to the entire congregation.

-The gift of tongues was presented as a temporary gift in nature. 1 Cor. 13:8 claimed a stopping point for the exercise of the gift. The time of cessation is problematic (“cease”: Greek pauo: to stop, halt) and is variously described by scholars as: 1. when the Bible was completed; 2. when Jesus returns for the believers; 3. the end of the Church Age. One thing is agreed, the gift has an ending point according to the aforementioned verses.

-The use of the gift of tongues, and any other gift, was controlled and regulated. There is no text that indicates the use of the gift was not in the control of the believer. In fact, standards introduced inCorinthdemonstrate the believers had specific control of the function of tongues. Paul told them they had to have interpreter, or remain silent. If this was an irresistible urge of the Spirit, as some have argued, how do you stop to consider the rules of Scripture? There were to be no more than three per meeting (I Cor. 14:27). Though men were not to regulate the speaking in tongues beyond that which God instructed in the Bible (I Cor. 14:39), the Apostle was “forbidding” one to speak inCorinthif the Scriptural conditions were not met.

-The normal use of tongues was as a witness to the unbeliever in the various narratives of Acts, and the Pauline instruction includes this idea (I Cor. 14:21-22). The use of the gift appears to have been consistently in settings where the unbeliever could hear!

-There are those that argue on the basis of 1 Corinthians 14:1-17 for another type of tongue used as an ecstatic prayer language. If there is another use of the tongues gift as an individual “prayer language” in that passage, it stands alone in the New Testament and deserves serious study as a separate matter. It does not seem that this should have been included in the gift list to “build up the Body” as the orientation of 1 Cor. 14 suggests individual, but not corporate use (1 Cor. 14:4).

2:5 “devout men” : These were Jews who had traveled from all over the then known world to worship during the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) in Jerusalem, the spiritual center for all the Jews (Acts 2:5-13).  It is in Jerusalem after the preaching of Peter, that out of these men, the first three thousand people repented, believed and were baptized in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:41).  Thus the gospel began inJerusalem. After this,Jerusalem became a place where great miracles and signs and wonders were experienced and witnessed at the hands of the apostles (Acts 2:43; 5:16). Many believers were added to the number of believers and the Word of God and the preaching of Jesus increased. (Acts 2:47; 4:4; 5: 14, 42; 6: 7)

2:15 “third hour”: Since it was customary (and still is) to fast on the first half of feast days that include services at the local synagogue, he argued that is was not possible they were drunken. The third hour in this case should be understood as “the third hour of the daylight”, or about 9 A.M.

2:17 “last days”: The period of the New Covenant began with the salvation of a remnant of Jews (Rom. 11:5), was followed by the opening of the Good News to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11), and will eventually consummate in the salvation of the Jews (Rom. 11:26-35) as promised to Jeremiah (cp. 31 and 32). The entire period is referred to as the “last days” as it reflects the final countdown of God’ program.

2:27 “hell”: literally “Hades”, the abode of the dead or the grave. It was clear that since they all knew of the place of David’s tomb, David must have been speaking of the Messiah and not himself.

2:34 “he saith”: a reference to Ps. 110:1. The context of Ps. 110 may well be after Nathan’s prophetic address. Peter connects the Psalm 110:1 quote to the Ascension of Jesus. For other important Psalm connections to Messiah see also Ps. 2:6ff, Ps. 22.

2:38 (and others) “baptise”: The Greek word is partially transliterated rather than properly translated in this case. The term means to “cover with, normally to immerse”. The term is used in the Septuagint in relation to the High Priests work at the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle, and thus must be seen as “totally covering”. The term is used in the Gospels and Acts specifically in reference to a practice that came out of Jewish congregations during the exile intoBabylon. There appears to earlier reference to the practice, though it can be generally linked to ritual cleansing as far back as the Tabernacle.

There appear to be several methods of ritual cleansings (referred to in Hebrew as a mikveh) during the time of theSecondTemple. The difference between Jewish ritual baptism (Mikveh) and the Messianic or Christian baptism practice appears to be the number of times it was performed. The Messianic use appears to been done once only (as the sacrifice of Jesus). In the Book of Acts the baptism followed the repentance of individuals from sin upon accepting the gospel of salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. In Jewish practice, the mikveh was performed many times in a person’s life, if performed for the purpose of preparation forTemple worship. Though Paul clearly stated that only one baptism was necessary in relation to the faith he had in Jesus, he continued to mikveh to enter the Temple (as in Acts 21:26ff). The Jewish practice included:

  1. Proselyte baptism: this practice was used by a Gentile born man or woman who observed ritual bathing as part of a much longer process for joining to the covenant that God made with Israel. This appears to have been done by bathing in the nude in an enclosed and private pool set aside for this purpose.
  2. Ritual ablution: performed in a similar way to the proselyte baptism, this was used in the ablution for those who needed cleansing according to rabbinic standards. Women were required to undergo this practice after the monthly cycle, as were those who had touched any dead thing. These standards are outlined in the “Taharoth (Purity) Laws” of the Mishnah.
  3. Vow ablution: also done in the nude in a room alone, these baptisms were done in preparation for the initiation or completion of a holy vow. An example of this practice in Acts is found in 21:26. The place for such a practice was no doubt the Mikvaot on the south porch of theTemple.
  4. Preparation baptism: there is no actual precedent for this outside the record of the work of John the Baptizer. Virtually no scholar accepts that John had scores of people strip all of their clothing off to baptize themselves in theJordan. We are unsure of the methodology used by John, but can conclude that the purpose was to outwardly show repentance and preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.

The practice became one of the congregations of followers of Jesus by holy command, as found in Mt. 28:19. Jesus commanded this particular symbol as one of the physical examples of joining the faith community of the believers. Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 and later in Acts 10 offered some theological rationale to the command. He preached: Repent of your sin and believe in the sacrifice of Jesus for their atonement. Once one believed, this step of faith showed obedience to a command from Jesus.  A number of examples of this obedience are recorded in Acts, as that of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38). For more detail on this event, see the note under 8:38.

Some scholars suggest the best example of Paul’s explanation of the symbolic meaning of baptism may be found in Romans 6:4.  This verse refers to a believer being buried by that baptism into death, and afterwards being raised up from death into a new life.  Some make the illusion that the death and resurrection symbolized dying to an old life of sin and disobedience, with resurrection from death out of the water representing being born into a new life of obedience to God’s word.

As the theology of the church developed, some understood the practice of baptism to be a substitute for the covenant symbol of circumcision, as practiced by Jews. They developed a sacramental theology approach, accepting covenant symbols in the church as equivalent to covenant symbols of the ancient Israelites. In this regard, these theologians considered the church as the inheritor of God’s program and thought that Jews were “disinherited”, a position not uncommon in Christian theology today. The sacramental use of the symbol is practiced in many denominations, and usually is common among those who believe the church has replacedIsraelin both spiritual position and blessing.

Further, historians note that methods varied among communities almost from the earliest centuries. The observance of baptizing in the nude was practiced during the Byzantine period, which included the witness of the deacons (or in the case of women deaconesses). The immersion pool was surrounded by the witnesses, but the water was only entered by the candidate. In addition, the candidate immersed three specific times, one for each of the members of the Trinity. Entering from the west and bowing into the water to the east, north and south, allowed the entire process to mimic a cross (cp. Rom. 6). About a dozen cruciform baptismal pools have been uncovered from this period, and several are on display in places like Tabgha (near theSea of Galilee) and Avdat (in the Negev of Israel).

Commentary: Acts 1

Randy’s Bible Commentary Notes on Acts chapter one:

Chapter One Outline:

I. Witness in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7)

A. Introduction (1:1-3)

B. Ascension of Messiah (1:4-11)

C. Appointment of Matthias (1:12-26)

Summary [Chapter One]: This second letter written to Theophilus continues the story of the spread of the Gospel that he began in the Gospel According to St. Luke. This second epic opens with Jesus (after His Death and Resurrection) meeting His disciples and instructing them in Jerusalem. Jesus told them to gather and wait there until the coming of the Holy Spirit and then He ascended into Heaven. His disciples went back to Jerusalem and selected a replacement for Judas by casting lots. They narrowed the choices by character to two men: Joses (called Barnabas) and Matthias, who was eventually chosen.

Chapter One

1:1 “former treatise” no doubt refers to the Gospel According to Luke, based not only on this assertion, but also on the style and grammar of the two writings. It may be that these were two parts of an unfinished (or partially lost) trilogy, with the Gospel According to Luke the things done by Jesus the Messiah, and Acts showing the things done by the Risen Messiah through His Holy Spirit. An early reference to the Lukan authorship is found in the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke (160 CE). For others, see notes on the Muratorian canon, or the works of the Apostolic, Apologetic and Later Church Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian.

1:2 “Apostles”: (Greek: apostolos), means one who is sent forth or messenger.  This was a person chosen and given a specific assignment with the full authority of the one who sent him. This was a common and abundantly used word. (Acts 2: 37, 42, 43; 4: 33,36; 5:12,18,29,34,40; Acts 6:6, 8:1,14; 9:27; 11:1; 14:4,14; 15:2,4,6,22,23,33, Acts 16:4, Romans 1:1, 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1,2; 15: 9; Hebrews 3:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Matthew 10:2; Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13; 9:10; 11:49; 17:5; Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 9:5; 12:28,29; 15:7,9; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:6; 2 Peter 3:2; Jude 17; Revelations 2:2; 18:20; 21:14)

The word Apostle specifically refers in Luke’s narrative to the initial 12 chosen disciple of Jesus.  Most were with Him during the course of His ministry and they saw Him after His Resurrection.  They were commissioned to be His witnesses to the far ends of the earth (Matthew 28:17).  They are also together with the prophets recorded as the foundation of the household of God with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.

The Twelve are thought by some to have been chosen as follows: Andrew and his brother Simon Peter, (Matthew 4:18-20), then James and John – the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21,22), these four were fishermen.  Then came Philip and Nathanael (also named Bartholomew – John 1:43-51).  Then came Matthew, called Levi a tax collector (Matthew 4:9-13), Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot or Cananaean, Judas, the brother of James and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 5:1-4).

Among them, the Disciples Peter, John and James were often taken aside by the Lord and would have been his inner circle.  Peter was more the leader of the Twelve, while John has been widely accepted as “the Apostle whom Jesus had a special love for” (John 19:26).  These three were present at the transfiguration (Mark 4:2), at the raising from the dead of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37) and in the garden of Gethsemane during the last hour before Jesus was captured.

Judas Iscariot was the keeper of the moneybag (John 13:29) and was known to have betrayed Jesus for money (John 13:2).  He hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).  Thomas was known for wanting physical proof of Jesus’ resurrection for him to believe.

They were trained by Jesus, yet still were not able to grasp what his mission to earth was, believing that he was about to set up a kingdom and restore Israel(Acts1:6).  Eleven of the twelve (not Judas Iscariot) were re-commissioned by the Lord Jesus, after His resurrection, to be His witnesses to the far ends of the earth (Luke 24:46-49) After the loss of Judas, Matthias was chosen by lots and took his place (Acts 1:23,26).

The apostles were regarded as ‘unlearned men’ by the priests, theTemplecaptain, and the Sadducees when Peter and John were brought before them because of preaching Jesus and His Resurrection (Acts 4:13).  This probably means that they only had elementary rather than higher education.

The word apostle was also used to identify those who were not of the Twelve, but who had seen the risen Christ and were also commissioned by Him.  Paul defended his Apostleship on the basis of having met with the Lord Jesus (on the way to Damascus) and on the basis of his highly effective ministry to the Gentiles (I Corinthians 15: 6-10).

James, the Lord’s brother was also counted an apostle.  He was probably not a believer of Jesus before the crucifixion.  The Lord Jesus appeared to him “After that, He was seen of James, then of all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15: 7).  “…He was seen…then of all the apostles…” seems to refer to a wider group of people more than the Twelve apostles.  I Corinthians 15: 5, indicates that Jesus was already seen by the Twelve.

It was agreed among the apostles that Paul and Barnabas were to concentrate on reaching the Gentiles while Peter, John and James (the Lord’s brother), were to continue their work among the Jews (Galatians 2:7-9).  Paul also indicated that the apostles were exposed to much danger, and suffering,  “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men…. Even unto the present hour, we both hunger, and thirst, are naked, and are buffeted and have no certain dwelling place.”  (1 Corinthians 4: 9-13)  Paul counts these hardships as taking part in the sufferings of Christ (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7).  Most of the apostles are traditionally recorded to have been faithful and lived a persecuted life and apart from John, died gruesome deaths.

1:3 Of the “many proofs” note that Luke had previously recorded that the Disciples spoke with Jesus (Lk. 24:13-32), ate with Jesus (24:13ff) and could see His physical scars (24:39-40). Luke clearly stated a physical resurrection was part of the body of teaching of the early Christian movement.

1:3 “forty days”: This is the only reference to the length of Jesus’ ministry to the Disciples between the Resurrection and Ascension. Though obviously a serious recounting of the actual length of time, this may also allude to other important forty-day spans in the Bible. The time period is elsewhere a record of God’s great movements on the earth, i.e. in the time of the flood (Gen. 7:4;8:6); in the time God and Moses communed together on the Mountain of the Law (Ex. 24:18; Dt. 9:9); in the time Jesus suffered attacks of Satan in the Judean Wilderness (Mt. 4:2; Mk. 1:13; Lk. 4:2) . Others note the Biblical statement for the length of embalming a dead body (Gen. 50:3).

1:5 “Holy Spirit”: The work of the Holy Spirit was not unknown to the Disciples (cp. Jn. 14:17; 20:22) but the work was about to change. The promise of Jesus was that He would no longer be aiding from alongside the Disciples, but would be indwelling them in a way they had not experienced before. This is one step toward the work of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31). The rest of the new agreement would not happen for a long time (and still has not yet happened!). A close look at the New Covenant promise in the Jeremiah 31 prophecy includes an abstract time line:

a)     the days will come (future to Jeremiah – 31:27) when the landIsraelandJudahwill be desolate and broken (27,28);

b)    in those days people will begin to take personal responsibility for the destruction (29,30);

c)     the days will come (after that time) the Lord will offer a New Covenant (31) toIsrael. (It will be a different kind of covenant than Sinai (32).

d)    Some time AFTER the offer (31:33) God would begin to “write the Law on the hearts” of the people ofIsrael.

e)     The nation will be drawn back to God (34) and all will be saved! (34)

f)      God promised that the relationship withIsraelwould be fulfilled and not set aside EVER (35,36).

The move of the Holy Spirit to inside the Disciples was equivalent to the “Word” dwelling in them richly (note the same results from the “work of the Spirit” in Ephesians 5 to the “work of the Word of Christ” within in Colossians 3). The believer was called to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, which was the same as operating in the Word of Christ. The work of the Spirit performs the promises of Messiah in the guidelines given in the Scriptures.

The brief time that Jesus shared the “breath” of the Spirit with the Disciples (Jn. 14:17) was perhaps the one time they could use to distinguish the experience in the new work the Spirit was doing in them. Had Jesus not done this, they may have been unable to distinguish the nature and source of the work in Acts. The Disciples were prepared by Jesus, however, and knew the work was from above, the beginning of the New Covenant promise that would not be completed in one instant (cp. Acts 2:16-21). Note that Peter realized the work would culminate in the salvation ofIsrael, but not that day!

1:11 “in like manner”: the return of Messiah should therefore be public, to theMount of Olives and miraculous. For later Apostolic material on the return of Jesus, cp. Rev. 1:8 and 19:11-16.

w1:12 “Sabbath”: (see also Acts 1:12; 13:14,27,42,44; 15:21; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4; Colossians 2:16; Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:3; 26:2). Sabbath (Hebrew: shabbat) is literally translated “rest” or “cessation of normal activities”. The origin of the Biblical Sabbath is found in Genesis 2:1-3.

Observance of the Sabbath day is first mentioned in the book of Exodus 16:23, when the children ofIsraelwere in the desert.  It became a symbol of the Covenant relationship between the children ofIsraeland the God of Abraham given to Moses onMount Sinai(Exodus 20:8-11).

Though part of the observance of the Sabbath a day was rest and refreshment before God, it also a day of holy assembly or worship unto Him (Leviticus 23:3). In addition, it served as a constant reminder of God’s continued covenant withIsrael(Ezekiel 20:12), and was later applied as a reminder to them that God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery.  The Israelites were expected to keep it with such seriousness that Sabbath breakers were to be stoned to death.  No fire was kindled and no sticks were gathered (labor associated with other days of the week).

The prophets considered proper observance of the Sabbath day as a litmus test of obedience to God. They argued that it directly affected the success and standing of the people ofIsraelandJerusalem, or their downfall and decay of the city ofJerusalem.  In that way they considered the Sabbath observance as a thermometer for the spiritual condition of the Israelites (Jeremiah 17: 19-27; Nehemiah 13: 15-22, Isaiah 58:13, Ezekiel 20:12,24, 22:8).

The term Sabbath was not only used for the 7th day of the week and also for special observance days, feasts and periodic observance years. The Day of Atonement was referred to as a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:32), Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:7,8), and the seventh year in the growing cycle (Sabbatical year). These were prescribed for the Hebrews and included foreigners who dwelt among the Israelites, called those who “drew near to cleave to the God of Israel”.

The Sabbath year of rest for the land was observed after six years, Leviticus 25:4, “But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.”

The Year of Jubilee was calculated by the Sabbath years, Leviticus 25: 8, 10 “ And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.” ”And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

In the wrestling of the early Rabbinic courts of the Sanhedrin over how best to keep the Sabbath rest the commands were developed and systemized such that by the time of Jesus, proper observance of the Sabbath restricted many acts not specified by the Torah. Some prohibited extensions of mercy, causing great controversy and contention among the religious leadership in the Gospel accounts of the ministry of Jesus.  An example of this was a case of the Pharisees expressing great problem with the healing ministry of Jesus on the Sabbath. Another example is found in the account where Jesus allowed His disciples to pick grain to satisfy hunger on a Sabbath.

The Gospel accounts share that Jesus argued against this particular Rabbinic standard by expressing the purpose of the Sabbath, and the priority of the people. He replied to the argument: (cp. Mk. 2:23-28) “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: so that the Son of man is lord even of the Sabbath.” To the question of showing mercy in healing, (Matthew 12:10,12) Jesus replied, “Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.”  Other references include Matthew 13:1-14; Luke 6:1-11, John 5:1-18. It appears that Mishnaic rabbis (after this time) agreed with Jesus’ interpretation of the mercy on Sabbath approach (as certainly some did during His lifetime) and their teaching included the ability to show mercy and to heal on Sabbath in later periods.

In the earliest movement of the church in Acts most followers of Jesus were Jews who kept the Sabbath. As the message of the Gospel progressed into the Greco-Roman world under the ministry of Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy and many others the meetings were both on Sabbath and on other days, “daily and houses to house”. For these Messianic Jews, the Sabbath continued to be a symbol of God’s everlasting covenant throughout the Book of Acts. For Gentile believers in Jesus, it was a question of choice (Col. 2:16). When Jewish believers attempted to enforce such practices on the Gentile believers, Paul withstood them on the basis of misappropriation of the covenant symbols. For more on the day of the week for the meeting of the early believers, see comments on Acts 20:7.

1:12 “Sabbath day’s journey”: a distance of about half a mile, which is the distance allowed for travel on the Sabbath day, according to rabbinic tradition. Though the Bible did not express such a specific distance, any person travelling in excess of 2000 cubits (3000 feet) was accused of breaking the fourth commandment statement: (Ex 16:29) “…let no man go out of his place on the seventh day”.  The size of the “place” was based on Numbers 35:5 which measures out the “suburbs” of the cities in cubits:  2000 cubits to the east, 2000 cubits to the south, 2000 cubits to the west and 2000 cubits to the north side of the city.  These suburbs may have been the pasturelands around the cities on which inhabitants of the cities planted their crops and put their flocks to grazing. At various excavation sites of ancientIsrael, archaeologists have identified the stones placed at the outer extremities of these suburbs at what may have been the lawful limits of a Sabbath day’s journey.

Acts 1:13 “Upper room”: The Greek term for this room is huper-o’-on, a different term than the kataluma of John 13-17. The term used in John reflects a different location, and was used only there and in association with the term “inn” (where there was no room for Jesus’ birth – Lk. 2). The term in John is loosely translated “furnished guest chamber”. In a setting like this one (a place used for banqueting) one could expect the place to have been a triclinium (three sided reclining table).

Apparently the place was large (Acts 1:13) and had adjacent living quarters, as the disciples may have stayed there for some period. Banquet rooms (triclinia) were normally a main floor feature of a private villa of wealthy Romans of the period. Numerous examples have been uncovered, including four contemporary examples in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.  Scholars suggest the home may have been that of Mark’s mother, who (according to Acts 12:12) was the owner of the home where many people were praying in the early believing community.

According to early Christian writers, an “upper room” was still intact a century after the crucifixion of Jesus, yet it is difficult to know if the room was that of the Last Supper, or of the events in Acts 1. The “upper room” visited by Christian pilgrims inJerusalemtoday recalls the room of the Last Supper. It is located in the same building as the Tomb of David (on the floor directly above) and is a barrel-vault Gothic style building of the 1300s. This room features a Moslem prayer niche (from when it was changed to a mosque, along with beautiful windows that have been recently restored. Often pilgrims confuse the setting of the two events (the Last Supper and Pentecost), which have only been celebrated in the same location in the last 500 years. A careful look at the venue for the Last Supper demands a private place, whereas the setting for the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost appears to be a public setting.

1:15 “stood up”: What a remarkable transformation in Peter! He had denied Jesus three times (Jn. 18). He was conspicuously quiet at the appearances of Jesus in the Upper Room (Jn. 20:26ff). Two events gave Peter a holy boldness: 1. The public acceptance of Jesus (in front of the other Disciples) by the shore of the Sea after the denials (Jn. 21); and 2. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1ff).

1:26 “lots”: This sounds like gambling, but actually has a solid Biblical precedent (compare Prov. 16:33; Jonah 1:7). The scapegoat was chosen in this way (Lev. 16:8ff). The Bible record does not condemn the method of choice here or elsewhere. Remember, the Book of Acts is a narrative, not an instruction. The point is NOT to get this methodology for church decision-making, it is a simple record of what they did. Some Scriptures are simple narratives (like Gideon and his fleece – cp. Judges 6-8). In such cases, one can appreciate the story without feeling the need to imitate it.

Titus: Planting a Church that Honors God

One of the last letter written by the Apostle Paul was the short epistle to Titus. The mission church planter Titus probably came to Jesus during the preaching and teaching ministry of Paul (Titus 1:4), and became his disciple shortly after. Titus accompanied Paul to Jerusalem in 50 CE for the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:1-3) and became an example of the stand the early church had on the Gentile need for circumcision (Paul was not required to circumcise Titus, as he was a Gentile). Titus took direction from Paul and was sent by the Apostle to Corinth as a representative (see 2 Corinthians 7 and 8). He carried Paul’s letter (2 Corinthians) to the church. Later, Paul left Titus in Crete to establish churches, and probably later replaced him on that field with Artemas (or Tychichus) when he called Titus to winter with Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). From Nicopolis, Titus was apparently assigned work in Dalmatia (Yugoslavia, see 2 Tim. 4:10). Church tradition records that Titus eventually returned to Crete and died there man years later.

“Planting a Church that Follows God”

The Epistle of Paul to Titus

I. The Author and Recipient of the Letter:

A.  The Author (The Apostle Paul)

  1. Name: Paul = “little”; Shaul (Hebrew name) = “asked”

  1. Place of Birth: Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia in southeastern Asia Minor (Acts 22:3).

  1. Occupation, role, or title: A tentmaker by trade, his livelihood (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1Cor. 4:12); once a zealous persecutor of the primitive church (Acts 8:1-3); after his conversion, the most effective missionary of early Christianity and, as traditional author of 14 NT epistles, the church’s first theologian.

  1. Place of Death: Rome (Eusebius, Church History, Bk. 2, Ch. 25).

  1. Important facts about the person’s life: Paul was born of Jewish parents in Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, probably about 5 CE. He inherited Roman citizenship from his father, a status that would prove of great use to Paul during his ministry. His early years were spent in Tarsus where he probably acquired the trade of tent making (or perhaps leatherworking). As a young man, Paul—then still called “Saul”—went to Jerusalem, where he studied under the famous Jewish sage Gamaliel and became exceedingly “zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3) and the things of the law. For Paul, this included persecuting the nascent Christian church, both in Jerusalem and in far-flung cities (Acts 26:9-11). Indeed, he first appeared in the early Messianic record as one witnessing and consenting to the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58ff). However, after his dramatic conversion experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) Paul became as zealous for the cause of Christ as he had once been in opposition to it.

After a three-year sojourn in Arabia (probably southern Jordan, then held by Arabs) and then visiting both Damascus and Jerusalem again (Gal. 1:15ff), Paul apparently returned for a few years to his native Tarsus. From there, Barnabas called Paul to help with the burgeoning work in Antioch where they labored together for a year or more (Acts 11:25-26). The Antioch church ordained the two as missionaries, and Paul then undertook a series of three missionary journeys, between about 45 and 58 CE.

  • The first journey (45-47 CE; Acts 13:4—14:28) took Paul and Barnabas through the island of Cyprus, then the southeastern part of Asia Minor, planting communities of believers.

  • On the second journey (51-54 CE; Acts 15:40—18:22) Silas and Timothy accompanied the Apostle west across Asia Minor and into Europe, as far as Corinth in Greece.

  • The third journey (54-58 CE; Acts 18:23—21:15), covering much of the same territory, included over two years at Ephesus, and its return leg constituted Paul’s final journey to Jerusalem.

Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (circa 61 CE) following a riot in the Temple and later appeared before the successive Roman governors Felix and—after two years in prison—Festus, in Caesarea Maritima. Appealing his case to the emperor (Acts 25:10-12), Paul was sent to Rome and, after being shipwrecked (probably on the island of Malta), arrived there probably in the first half of the year 62 CE (Acts 28:16). The Book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome, preaching while under house arrest and awaiting trial. (Some have conjectured, based primarily on material in 2 Timothy 4, that Paul was initially acquitted in Rome, then engaged in further missionary activity, and finally underwent a second imprisonment; some also presume these events to have been recounted in a lost epilogue to the Luke-Acts narrative.) Church tradition says that Paul was beheaded in Rome sometime during the reign of Nero (54-68 CE).

B. The Recipient (The Church Planter – Titus)

The mission church planter Titus probably came to Jesus during the preaching and teaching ministry of Paul (Titus 1:4), and became his disciple shortly after. Titus accompanied Paul to Jerusalem in 50 CE for the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:1-3) and became an example of the stand the early church had on the Gentile need for circumcision (Paul was not required to circumcise Titus, as he was a Gentile). Titus took direction from Paul and was sent by the Apostle to Corinth as a representative (see 2 Corinthians 7 and 8). He carried Paul’s letter (2 Corinthians) to the church. Later, Paul left Titus in Crete to establish churches, and probably later replaced him on that field with Artemas (or Tychichus) when he called Titus to winter with Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). From Nicopolis, Titus was apparently assigned work in Dalmatia (Yugoslavia, see 2 Tim. 4:10). Church tradition records that Titus eventually returned to Crete and died there man years later.

II. The Purpose of the Letter (the situation that caused Paul to write):

A few years before the death of the Apostle Paul, he wrote to a younger church planter about the establishment of solid, well rooted, God honoring churches in Crete. Titus took directions from Paul as his sending agent (as stated above). He handled difficult assignments for Paul in the matter of disobedience in a rebellious church at Corinth as part of his training to plant churches (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6-7, 13-15; 8:6, 16-17). Paul was delighted with the sensitivity and strength of his disciple.

A careful reading of the text of the Epistle to Titus reveals the message of the Gospel had already begun to take root in Crete, but the saved had not yet been organized into strong local churches. The letter probably personally encouraged the church planter, but more importantly added an authoritative boost to his stature when rather sharp exchanges became necessary.

Another key to the purpose was found in Paul’s comments about Titus’ approach. Titus was told to “speak evil of no man” (3:2) and deal with the lost in meekness. Some Cretans may have assailed Titus for lacking sharpness in the beginning, but these words from Paul would help set them at ease. It was not necessary to argue endlessly, but it was necessary to defend the flock and stop some of the subversive speech of the traveling speakers who were trying to pull Gentiles into keeping the Torah (Law) of Moses.

III. The Key Principles of the Letter:

The letter outlines six major principles to establishing well-grounded and God-pleasing churches:

  1. Everything rises or falls on the quality of the leadership of the congregation, choose wisely! (1:5-9)

  1. The leaders must remember the church is a teaching organization, and the parameters of the teaching must be maintained and defended for the flock to be healthy, protect them! (1:10-16)

  1. The group becomes a true church when the members are equipped and begin to function in their relationships to each other and to the world, train them! (2:1-10)

  1. The church is formed by God’s grace, and maintained by careful obedience to the Father’s commands lived out in expectation of the Lord’s return, keep working! (2:11-15)

  1. The Cretan church should be characterized by a gracious spirit toward the world and its leaders – a humility bathed in the memory of their own former sojourn, be gracious! (3:1-7)

  1. Though they are gracious, they must not ignore the creeping influence of error and contention, be careful! (3:8-11)

An Outline of the Epistle of Paul to Titus

I. The greeting: The senior missionary to a new church planter – guidelines for the establishment of order in the church (1:1-4)

II. Step One: Identify the leadership and apply responsibility! (1:5-16).

       A. Establishing leadership: Choose leaders wisely (1:5-9)

       B. Establishing the parameters of the teaching: protect the truth (1:10-16)

III. Step Two: Instruct people to get busy about their God-given work! (2:1-15)

 -The tasks defined: it’s all about relationships (1-10)

1. The Church Planter (1, cp. 2:15) In order to establish the work, teach!

2. The Older Men (2): temperate, sensible, discreet, unerring faith, loving spirit, patient deportment.

3. The Older Women (3): reverent behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine, teachers of the right behaviors.

4. Younger Women (4-5): love husband and children, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, subject to their husbands to protect their home reputation.

5. The Younger Men (6-8): discreet, (and by example of Titus himself in vv. 7-8) maintain a consistent pattern of good work in every area, in the teachings, pure, sensible, uncorrupted, sound and careful speech, leaving nothing for his adversaries to claim.

6. The Servants (9-10): pleasing to master, not contradicting, not stealing, but showing the best of the teaching of our Savior.

  1. The Principle for ALL (11-15). Walk in grace circumspectly, and be aware of the cost to our Master for us. Do what pleases Him, as is your purpose!

IV. Step Three: Remind people to establish a Credible Public Testimony (3:1-11)

A. In relation to Authorities in the World: be obedient (1).

B. In relation to the Unsaved in the Community: be considerate and understanding – you were like them before (2-7).

C. In relation to those who stir up the Church: stress the truth and avoid divisive nonsense (8-11).

V. Personal Greetings and Messages (3:12-15).

The Measure of A Great Church


Key Principle: How did Paul measure this church? He measured it by the congregation’s adherence to carefully presented standards.


Older Men: (means “senior male” as in age not office of “elder” term as used in 1:5)

1)      Sober: (NIV) temperate; adjective meaning to not “wine controlled”, came to be used as a word for “clear headed”; possessing all the faculties at all times.

2)      Grave: (NIV) worthy of respect; seriousness of purpose and dignified such that he commands respect.

3)      Temperate: (NIV) “self-controlled”; possessing self-mastery.

4)      Sound in faith, “sound” is derived from a building term for a solid foundation. The word has a Greek article, suggesting the meaning “their faith”. The term faith may mean “doctrine” but here it appears to be their personal faith in the Lord Jesus.

5)      charity (NIV) “love”; The word is for relational love, as opposed to a vindictive spirit or bitterness.

6)      patience: endurance”; The word is a military term that denotes brave persistence and strength of character.

Older Women:

1)      In behavior as becometh holiness: (NIV) “be reverent in the way they live”; literally a cultic term for the interior and exterior of a temple to be suitable for holy uses.

2)      Not false accusers: (NIV) “not slanderers”; the word is elsewhere translated gossip.

3)      Not given to much wine: (NIV) “not addicted to much wine”; the grammar suggests that #2 and #3 are linked. Was the problem at the wine bar? Was the problem loose speech after too much to drink?

4)      Teachers of good things: the word is derived from the personal counsel of a tutor.

5)      Teach the younger women to be sober: (literally “to return one to her senses”). The term for “teach” is different than the one used above, it was sometimes used in the Greek world as an athletic word for training that happens over a long and arduous process. The term “younger women” is the term NEW or FRESH and may mean either the newly married (less likely) or the NEW WOMEN IN JESUS. The training of the new women in the church was not the responsibility of the Elders, nor of Titus, but of the older women!

Younger Women: (Those newer to the faith)

1)      Love their husbands: (literally) “devoted to their husbands”.

2)      Love their children: (literally) “devoted to their children”.

3)      Be discreet: (NIV) “self controlled”

4)      Chaste: (NIV) “pure”

5)      Keepers at home: (The KJV follows the text as “oikourous” or “home guard”, the NIV uses a different text that contains the word “oikourgous” which means “to be busy at home”. The NIV thought the second choice made more sense with Paul’s other admonitions as 1 Tim. 5:13,14 – to avoid idleness).

6)      Good: (NIV) “kind”; the selfless demands placed on a wife an mother can cause her to cultivate a harsh and irritable spirit. Servanthood is contrary to human nature and Roman culture, so this training was valuable!

7)      Obedient to their own husbands: (NIV) “to be subject to their husbands” is apparently to be read in middle voice, “subjecting themselves to in a voluntary way”. Though she was equal in salvation (Gal. 3:28), yet she placed herself in subjection. The subjection was directly linked to the testimony of the home and of the Word of God!

Young men

(and by example of Titus himself in vv. 7-8): (word IS for young men). Titus was told to “exhort” (literally “to come beside and show how”) to be sober minded: (NIV) “self-controlled” as the teaching to younger women. Obviously the greatest need of the young Cretan men was to stay their impetuous nature and cultivate restraint.

Titus (Church planter, then Pastor)

(By example – commands of vv. 7-8 to him!) Show a pattern of good works: (NIV) “set for them an example” is literally “holding yourself beside them as an example”of a teacher of the Word.

1)      Doctrine: showing uncorruptness: highest quality in teaching!

2)      Gravity: teaching with a motive of integrity in all things.

3)      Sincerity: teaching with outward dignity and seriousness.

4)      Sound speech: his words were to be, when tested, found consistently reliable. There was an expectation that his words were opposed by some, but after testing, his word should have been consistent, and morally pure.


1)      Obedient to masters (Greek – despotes): is literally “to attempt to please”.

2)      Not contradicting: (Greek – “antilego”) is literally “not talking back to, or against  them”.

3)      Not purloining: (NIV) stealing.

4)      Showing in all fidelity: literally, “demonstrating good faith” – showing the best of the teaching of our Savior.

A congregation that focused on their relationship to the Lord by keeping these carefully presented standards was a great church!

Hack #12: Keep the Tools Working Well

I worked with a number of really good men in my career. One of the most helpful was a man I was with for only a few days during my summer job at Mobil Oil in the refinery in New Jersey. He was an older man, and I cannot even recall his name, but I remember an important lesson he taught me: Keep your tools orderly and clean and whole team will be able to use them effectively.

That sounds like a “no-brainer” but I am amazed at how few team builders understand this concept. In my work I use the computer a lot. Yet, my team members have had to access files for me at numerous times in recent months while I was “laid up” with a broken ankle. The only way I could tell them what to retrieve and have them ever hope to find it was have it in order. How do I keep my tool (computer) in order?

I don’t spend any money on Anti-virus software. I the FREE AVG software available on the web for my basic blocker. Then I downloaded the FREE excellent CCleaner software and FREE Spy Bot Search and Destroy software (available through CNET downloads) and periodically I run them. It keeps the computer in good order and Norton, McAfee and all the others don’t slow down my operations, nor collect a hefty fee in updates from me. These three free tools keep my tools in order. They make my computer stay in line.

In the office I have a filing system that is simple. Each company (I have created several) has its own drawers, and the order of every company is the same. Company official docs first, Tax files second, Banking third, A-Z income and expense files fourth. It almost doesn’t matter which system you use, as long as it is both predictable and explained to the team!

In the end, the clean and ordered tools, well maintained, make the team more effective without as much frustration!

Seven Types of Literature in the Bible

The Bible is not a single document, though it has a single Spiritual authorship. If we think of it more as the library of God’s instructions on a life that pleases Him, we come closer to the intent of the Author and His various writing helpers. If the text was written for the expressed purpose of changing the lives of believers, we must press each portion to see the life changing truths that are contained in its pages. Using the text as mere historical lessons rob it of the real purpose for which it was given.


Each type of Biblical literature has a unique path from the text to the heart. Timeless truths and principles are found throughout, but the path to consistently finding and applying them is specific to the type of literature. Some books contain more than one type of literature and require more than one path to find the principles. That’s the bad news; it is not as simple as some would like it to be.


The good news is the interpretive method of each type of literature is consistent within that type. It can be “unlocked” with a specific set of questions that, if carefully responded to, yield the same principles regardless of how many years of experience you may have at interpreting the Word. The literary types of the Word have been divided many different ways by different authors of commentaries and Bible study books. We offer these seven as a simple guide that will help any student draw truth
from the rich pages of the Bible.


Type One: Biography (includes the Patriarchal and Matriarchal Narratives of Genesis; Moses in Exodus and Numbers (and small selected stories of men like Korah); Joshua; Ruth; Selected characters of 1,2 Samuel (Hannah, Eli the Priest, Samuel, Saul, David; Selected characters of 1,2 Kings and 1,2 Chronicles (Solomon, Various kings of Divided Kingdom); Ezra (Zerubbabel and Ezra; Nehemiah (Nehemiah, Ezra); Esther; Daniel (from chapters 1-6); Jonah; Matthew; Mark; Luke; John; Acts.


· Narrative Biography: Divide into dramatic “Acts and Scenes” asking the key principle questions.

· Polemic Biography: Tie the Acts and Scenes to the overall purpose of the writer. “In this way, we see the writer offers evidence that…”

Type Two: Prescriptive Epistles (includes Epistles- Romans; 1,2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1,2 Thessalonians; 1,2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; 1,2 Peter; 1,2,3 John; Jude): Ascertain the problems that gave rise to the writing of the Epistle. If the epistle represents the answer, what is the question?


· Corporate Epistle: distinct in that it is written to a group, and must not be applied to an individual.

· Pastoral Epistle: distinct in that it is written to a leader, and does not always reflect the path of every believer.

· Personal Epistle: distinct in the personal style, reveals something important about both the writer and the reader.

· Sectarian Epistle (Messianic): distinct because of the unique set of standards God made for the believing Jew of the Church Age.

· Sectarian Epistle (Gentile): distinct because of the pagan background of the believers of the Gentile community.


Type Three: Lamentation: (includes Lamentations, Habakkuk, selected Psalms) move from the human to the Divine perspective, care must be taken not to use the opening as precedent to behavior.


Type Four: Legal Code and Covenant Treaty (includes part of Exodus; Leviticus; Deuteronomy): Divide the type of behavior to the consequence. Seek to determine what God’s chief concern was in the behavior.


· Exodus (Shemot)/Numbers (Bemidbar): Declarative Law (the declaration of the people to trust in God; the declaration of God that He accepts the people).

· Levitical (Vayikra): Holiness or Redemptive Law (the laws given to the spiritual leader expressing the way one is tainted by sin, and the way one can be redeemed).

· Deteronomic (Dvarim): Constitutional law (what makes a Jew a Jew).


Type Five: Wisdom Literature: Focus on the “truism”, not a promise or absolute. These are wise instructions that offer guidance, not covenants that guarantee success.


Type Six: Poetics: Poetic text should be treated like the illusive figures of song lyrics. A careful understanding of the images used is essential to understanding the veiled truths. There are many types of poetic portions. Some of the main ones are:


· Psalms: Praises (Ps. 30; 65); Corporate or National (Ps. 44); Imprecation (Ps. 7; 35;55;58-59; 69;79;109; 137; 139).

· Poems and songs (Ex. 15)

· Parallelism


Type Seven: Prophetic Works


· Coming Judgment and Blessing (Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi)

· Exposing sin (Haggai)

–    Sermons and Political commentaries (Amos; Micah)