Shake the Dust Off & Moving On to the Next Opportunity

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus—the Church—as it was written in the book of Acts by the physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “After these things Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and holy not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: For I have much people in this city. And he continued there for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:1-11).

 

            “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth. Men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things” (Acts 18:12-17).

 

            “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Chenchrea: for he had a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When t hey desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast the cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:18-23).

 

            “And a certain Jew named Apollos born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and might in the scriptures came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:24-28).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul departing from the city of Athens where the brethren had set him forth unto after departing from Berea. In order to understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s important to recognize and understand the words which are found in the previous chapter. It is in the previous chapter we encounter the apostle Paul continuing to move forward within Macedonia after receiving a vision in the night where he saw a man from Macedonia entreating him to come unto them and provide help. Determining that it was the Lord’s will to journey unto Macedonia after being forbidden by the Holy Ghost from preaching the gospel in Asia the apostle Paul together with Timothy, Silas and Luke departed and journeyed unto the city of Philippi which was a chief city in the midst of Macedonia. It would be in Philippi where the apostle would once more find himself experiencing a tremendous amount of affliction and suffering as both he and Silas were seized by men in the city, beaten with. Many stripes and then cast into prison. Upon being cast into prison the jailor was instructed to secure them with all safety and surety to which the jailor placed them in the inner prison and secured their feet in stocks. What makes this particular narrative so incredibly powerful when you truly take the time to consider it is when you read how although Paul and Silas might have been restricted from preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus in the city of Philippi they were still able to use their voices to sing praises before and unto the Lord their God.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find Paul and Silas singing praises unto the Lord their God at the midnight hour. What’s more is that upon reading this narrative you will find that while they were singing praise unto the living God there in the prison cell the Lord not only heard their praise but also responded to it. Scripture reveals how while Paul and Silas were still singing praises and while the other prisoners were listening to their worship the ground beneath the prison shook violently as an earthquake would strike the earth. Not only did the ground beneath the prison shake but the prison doors of each cell were opened at the same time. Furthermore you will read how each man’s shackles and fetters were loosed from them. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous magnitude of what took place here for as a direct result of the praises which Paul and Silas sang before and unto the living God He would strike the earth with a great earthquake so much so that the whole prison where they were being held was shaken. Moreover this earthquake would cause each man’s prison to be opened and each man’s shackles to be loosed. For however brief a period of time each and every prisoner which was being held in that prison—regardless of whether they were innocent as Paul and Silas were or were themselves guilty—was essentially free. If you stop and think about it with the prison doors being opened and with their shackles being loosed from their wrists and ankles each man was essentially free in that moment.

 

            FREEDOM IN PRAISE! FREEDOM IN WORSHIP! If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words surrounding the narrative of Paul and Silas in prison there in the city of Philippi it’s the tremendous power that is found in our worship and in the singing of our praise. Upon reading the words presented in the sixteenth chapter you will find that the praises which the apostle Paul and Silas sang before the Lord would not only shake the earth but would also shake the entire prison where they were being held. What’s more is that the praises which the apostle Paul and Silas sang would result in the freedom for themselves as well as each and every one of the prisoners which were present in that prison. Although the jailor thought to kill himself supposing the prisoners had escaped in the night each and every prisoner remained in the midst of their own cell. It’s actually quite remarkable to think about the fact that in that brief moment of time each and every prisoner within that prison was free—and not only free but present in their cells with the prison doors being opened and their shackles being loosed from them. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves when reading this passage of Scripture is whether or not we are aware of the tremendous power that is found in our worship and the singing of praise. Do you truly understand the weight and the power that is found in your worship and in the singing of praise—regardless of whether it’s in the house of the Lord, or in your car, or in your home, or wherever else you might sing and worship before the Lord? One thing I so absolutely love about this passage is how the Lord responded to worship which wasn’t in the court of the Temple nor even in one of the many house churches nor even in a synagogue of the Jews. The Lord responded to worship which was offered before and unto Him in a prison cell in the midnight hour.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering this particular narrative I am brought face to face with the strong and powerful truth that our worship can in fact be heard in heaven and release the power of God regardless of where we are. Would it shock and surprise you to know and understand that the Lord doesn’t need us to worship solely in the house of the Lord in the pews of the church buildings we enter into? Would it surprise you if I told you the Lord can hear your praise in the prison as much as He can hear your praise in the court of the house of the Lord? The apostle Paul sang praises before and unto the living God there in the midst of that prison during the midnight hour and as a direct result of their praise the Lord would respond. We know how James writes of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much and yet the question I would like to ask is whether or not we are aware of the effectual and fervent praise within our lives also avails much. I continue to be absolutely amazed how in the New Testament book of Acts the saints would pray and as a direct result of their prayers the Lord would respond in such a tremendous and powerful way. It would be in the fourth chapter the apostles and the brethren would lift their voices in prayer before and unto the living God and the house and building they were present in was suddenly shaken and each of them were filled with the Holy Ghost. It would be in the twelfth chapter where we find the saints praying and interceding on behalf of the apostle Peter who was placed in prison by Herod the king. Herod the king would have put the apostle Peter to death, however, the prayers of the saints would cause Peter to be released from the prison wherein he was being held. The prayers of the saints and brethren would cause an angel of the living God to be dispatched in the night who would come unto the apostle. Having woken up the apostle the angel would instruct him to gird himself with his garments as he would deliver him out of that prison. It would be during that night the chains and shackles upon Peter would fall off, the prison doors were opened before him and the gate of the city would open of its own accord before the angel would depart from him.

 

            In the fourth and twelfth chapter of this New Testament book we find and encounter the tremendous working and power that is found within our prayers as our prayers do in fact avail much within the earth. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider how our prayers can not only cause buildings to be shaken and men and women being filled with the Holy Ghost to speak the word with boldness but our prayers can also loose men and women from whatever prison they might be in. Oh although we might not find ourselves praying for the release of men and women from literal prisons made of concrete, stone, iron, metal and the like we do in fact find ourselves praying for men and women to be delivered from prisons within their hearts, prisons within their minds, prisons within their souls and prisons they have allowed themselves to be cast into. We might not be praying for men and women to be delivered from literal and physical prison with bars and doors of iron and metal but we are in fact praying for men and women to be delivered from prisons of shame, prisons of guilt, prisons of condemnation, prisons of addiction, prisons of depression, prisons of anger, prisons of bitterness, prisons of offense, prisons of hatred and so much more. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand how incredibly powerful this truly is for it draws and calls our attention how our prayers can in fact bring about the deliverance of men and women from the prisons they themselves have been bound. Oh dear reader do you truly understand how much power is present in your prayer(s) when you pray and lift up your voice before the living God? Moreover do you understand how much power is found within the praise when you lift it up before the Lord your God—regardless of where you are and at what time of the day you lift your voice? Paul and Silas sang praises before and unto the living God in the midnight hour and as a direct result of their praise the entire prison was shaken, each man’s prison doors were opened and every man’s shackles were loosed from them.

 

            Eventually you will find in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts the jailor came unto the apostle Paul and Silas falling down before them trembling asking them what he must be do to be saved. The apostle Paul and Barnabas would instruct him to believe and be baptized—both he and his entire household. Luke goes on to write how the jailor would bring Paul and Silas forth from the prison and would wash their stripes and would set meat before them. Not only would this jailor clean their wounds and provide for them meat but he and his entire household would believe in the Lord Jesus and would be baptized. Oh stop and consider how incredibly powerful this is and just how much the living God accomplished in and at the midnight hour there in the midst of the prison where Paul and Silas were being held. Although they were restricted and prevented from preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus openly in the city due to being held in that prison their voices could still be lifted up and raised before the Lord their God in praise. It would be their praise before and unto the living God an entire prison was shaken, each man’s prison doors were opened, every man’s shackles were loosed from them and the jailor of the prison who was tasked with ensuring their security would together with his entire household believe on the Lord Jesus and be baptized. How incredibly powerful this truly is when you take the time to consider it for there is something mighty and awesome about the power and might that is found within our songs of praise before the living God.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul and Silas joining themselves together with Timothy and perhaps even Luke there in Philippi. Having departed from Philippi these men would come unto the city of Thessalonica where there was a synagogue of the Jews. As was the apostle Paul’s custom he entered in unto the synagogue of the Jews and for three sabbath days reasoning with them as he opened and alleged that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the He suffered and died before being raised again from death to life on the third day. While there were in fact some who believed as a result of the preaching of the word of the apostle Paul and those with him there were unbelieving Jews who would purpose to disrupt the preaching of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Luke writes and records how the unbelieving Jews which were present in the midst of the city were moved with envy and gathered unto themselves lewd men of the baser sort and set the whole city on an uproar against Paul and those with him. Moreover they would not only set the whole city on an uproar but they would also assault the house of Jason and bring Jason forth before the magistrates and those who were present on that day. Their intention and desire was to ultimately bring forth the apostle Paul and his companions and either cast them into prison, thrust them from the midst of their city or perhaps even put them to death. Instead of Paul being put to death he would be sent forth from the midst of Thessalonica and would be brought unto Berea. It would be there in Berea where the apostle Paul would once more enter into the synagogue of the Jews and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Those in Berea, however, were different than those in Thessalonica for they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures vigorously to see if what the apostle Paul preached was true. When, however, the Jews which were in Thessalonica heard how the word of the Lord Jesus was being preached in Berea they would follow Paul there and once more incite discord, chaos, confusion, division and much more among the crowds of people. As a direct result of this the apostle Paul would be sent forth from Berea and would ultimately come unto the city of Athens.

 

            The latter portion of the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul’s time in Athens and how he would observe their worship of an unknown god and perhaps even their worship of a pantheon of gods. We know from history that the Roman Empire adopted the pantheon of gods which were present in the midst of Greek culture and would adopt their own names of the various gods. We know that Athens was not only a city given unto the wisdom of men and philosophy but it was also a city that was given unto the false worship of those who were not gods. The apostle Paul would recognize this and would speak unto the men of Athens concerning that which they worshipped and yet which they knew not what they worshipped. The apostle Paul would speak unto those in Athens of the living God who is to be worshipped and who does not dwell in temples made with human hands. The apostle Paul would emphatically declare unto those who were present in Athens how the living God commanded that all men repent and that they worship Him alone. The apostle Paul would speak unto those in Athens and declare unto them that the living God dwells not in temples made by human hands nor is worshipped with men’s hands as though He needed any thing seeing He gives to all life, and breath, and all things. Moreover the apostle Paul would emphatically declare unto them how the Lord appointed in the earth that all men should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after him and find him though he be not far from every one of them. The apostle Paul would also go on to declare it is in the living God we live and move and have our being. Furthermore the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto unto those in Athens that the gods which are made of wood, gold, silver or stone are no gods at all and are nothing more than idols of man’s creation as they worship something which they do not understand.

 

            The seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concludes with the apostle Paul speaking of the resurrection of the dead and how some mocked while others purposed to hear the words the apostle Paul would speak unto them again. The apostle Paul would eventually depart from among them in their midst and when he did there were certain men who would cleave to him and would go forth with him. As you come to the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will that after Paul departed from Athens he came to Corinth and found a certain Jew named Aquila who was born in Pontus who had come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all Jews to depart from Rome. What we find in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts is how the apostle Paul would join himself unto Aquila—not merely because of their both being Jews but also because they were of the same craft and trade. Luke writes and records how the apostle Paul and Aquila were by trade tentmakers and would therefore work side by side together there in the midst of Corinth as they would labor among the people. It’s actually quite remarkable when reading the words found in the opening verses of the eighteenth chapter and consider how the apostle Paul didn’t merely preach and teach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus alone but also gave himself to work that he might support and sustain himself. The apostle Paul would labor together with Aquila day after day for eighteen months as they would commit themselves to their craft as tentmakers. Essentially what we find here in this passage of Scripture is not only the apostle Paul laboring together in the work of the ministry of the kingdom but we also find him laboring together in the work of building tents. The apostle Paul not only gave himself to the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus but he also worked together with Aquila in the craft and trade of making tents as he purposed not to be a burden unto those who were present in the midst of the city.

 

            The more you read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will encounter and be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the apostle Paul would continue teaching and preaching in the synagogues of the Jews as his manner and custom was. Luke writes and records how the apostle Paul would reason in the synagogue of the Jews every sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Eventually Silas and Timothy would come unto Paul from Macedonia after being left there upon the departure of the apostle Paul. It would be upon the arrival of Silas and Timothy the apostle Paul was pressed in the spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. Upon hearing the apostle Paul declare and profess that Jesus was Christ the Jews would oppose themselves and blaspheme. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the fact that in virtually every city the apostle Paul journeyed the Jews would not only oppose themselves upon hearing the declaration and profession that Jesus is the Christ but they would also blaspheme. In virtually every city the apostle Paul and those with him journeyed the unbelieving Jews which were present there refused to acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ and that Jesus was Lord. The unbelieving Jews which were present in the midst of the cities whereunto the apostle Paul journeyed unto would harden their hearts and close their ears to the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Those to whom the gospel and word of the Lord Jesus would first come would be those who would resist the word and message of Jesus and would harden their hearts toward and against it.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book for once more we find those to whom the word and name of the Lord Jesus would come unto first opposing themselves and resisting the word of the apostle Paul. Luke clearly indicates that the custom and manner of the apostle Paul was to enter into the synagogue of the Jews wherever he went and preach unto and among the Jews first and foremost the gospel of the Lord Jesus. What the apostle Paul would find, however, was that much like the Jews during Jesus’ day resisted and rejected Him so also would the Jews continue to resist the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Time and time again you will find unbelieving Jews in the various cities the apostle Paul and his companions would journey unto. The apostle Paul and his companions would preach the word of the gospel unto the Jews first for it was unto them the word and the gospel would come unto. The more you read the book of Acts, however, the more you will find and encounter the tremendous truth that in virtually every city Paul and those with him traveled and came unto—not only would sufferings and afflictions seem to be waiting for and appointed unto them but so also would their be unbelieving Jews present in the midst of them. Beginning with the thirteenth chapter and continuing through to the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find time and time again the Jews being those whom the apostle Paul would first come unto preaching the word of the gospel and yet the Jews themselves would oppose themselves and would blaspheme in the sight and presence of the apostle Paul. In some cases the unbelieving Jews being moved with envy would cause an uproar and a stir in the midst of the city as they would incite the mob and crowd against Paul and those who were with him. Beginning with the days of Paul and Barnabas and now continuing through to the days of Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke and others we continue to find unbelieving Jews present in those cities whereunto the apostle Paul would come.

 

            The more I read the words found in the book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the fact that the apostle Paul would indeed preach and teach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and yet in those cities whereunto the apostle Paul would come there would most certainly be unbelieving Jews—those who would and could not believe that Jesus was the Christ and that Jesus was Lord and the Son of the living God. Here we find the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth and as his manner and custom was he would enter into the synagogue of the Jews reasoning with them concerning Jesus of Nazareth. It would be in the city of Corinth, however, we find the unbelieving Jews opposing themselves and blaspheming—perhaps declaring that Jesus was not the Christ and that Jesus was not the Son of the living God. We don’t know what these unbelieving and stiff-necked Jews spoke unto the apostle Paul in the hearing of himself, Silas and Timothy but we do know the apostle Paul would shake off his raiment and pronounce unto them that their blood be upon their own heads. The apostle Paul would declare unto them that he was clean and free from their blood and from that point on he would go unto the Gentiles. It would be here in Corinth the apostle would once more encounter the opposition of the Jews toward the gospel and the word of the Lord Jesus. Here in Corinth we continue to find the Jews vehemently opposing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and resisting the Holy Ghost and Jesus Himself. If the Lord Jesus declared unto Saul on the road to Damascus that it was He whom he persecuted then what we find here is not merely the unbelieving Jews resisting the apostle Paul but resisting the Lord Jesus Himself.

 

            It is actually quite incredible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture for this would not be the first time the apostle Paul would experience the opposition of the Jews. In almost every city the apostle Paul journeyed to he would experience the opposition and resistance of the Jews as they would oppose the declaration that Jesus was the Christ and that He was the Son of the living God. The Jews would resist the declaration and word that Jesus suffered in the flesh and that He died on the cross before being raised from death to life again on the third day. The book of Acts brings us face to face with the tremendous truth that in almost every city the apostle Paul and his companions journeyed unto the Jews would themselves resist and oppose themselves as they hardened their hearts and close their ears to the words the apostle Paul would preach. What is found in this passage is incredibly similar to what we find in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters for within these passages of Scriptures we find the apostle Paul witnessing and beholding the opposition and resistance of the Jews and shaking the dust off his feet and shaking his raiment against those to whom he had preached and yet who resisted the gospel of the Lord Jesus. In all reality there is something to be said about the apostle shaking his raiment and shaking the dust off his feet for this was precisely what the Lord Jesus had taught and instructed His disciples when He had ordained and appointed them as apostles and ambassadors and sent them forth into the land. IF you turn and direct your attention to the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the words which Jesus spoke unto his twelve apostles whom He would send forth into the cities, towns and villages of Israel as He gave them power against unclean spirits to cast them out as well as to heal the sick and to preach the gospel unto the poor. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the first first of the tenth chapter:

 

            “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:1-15).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we pay attention to the words which are presented before us in this passage of Scripture for it would be upon sending His twelve disciples out unto and among the lost sheep of the house of Israel Jesus would declare unto His disciples the possibility of there being some in the houses, towns, villages and cities they would journey who would not receive them nor hear their words. It was indeed true the Lord Jesus would send forth His twelve disciples after ordaining them apostles and ambassadors and would teach them to preach the gospel unto the poor, however, with that being said Jesus seemed to hint at and suggest that there would be those who would not receive them nor hear their words. What we find in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts together with that which is found in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapter is just this. It is in these chapters we find the apostle Paul first coming unto the Jews and teaching and preaching unto them the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. It would be unto the Jews first whom the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus would be preached—even though the apostle Paul would come unto Gentile cities beyond Judaea, Samaria and Galilee. The apostle Paul would come unto Gentile cities, towns, houses and villages and would first come unto the Jews teaching and preaching among them in their synagogues. While it is indeed true there would be certain and some Jews who would hear the words the apostle Paul would speak and would believe there would be a great number of unbelieving Jews who would oppose themselves and would resist the gospel and word of the Lord Jesus. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within these chapters in this New Testament book we find and encounter the tremendous truth of the resistance and opposition of the unbelieving Jews who would not hear nor believe the words the apostle Paul would speak unto them.

 

            The more I read the words found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the awesome truth of the unbelieving Jews in this city—and not only the unbelieving Jews in this city but the Jews themselves—resisting and opposing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. It is in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book we once more find the unbelieving Jews opposing themselves, blaspheming and resisting the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would witness and behold the resistance and opposition of his own kindred, tongue and tribe and would purpose and determine that he would go unto the Gentiles. Although the apostle Paul would initially teach and preach the gospel unto the Jews in each city he would enter the Jews themselves would largely oppose themselves, blaspheme and resist the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would witness and behold this resistance of the Jews toward the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and would shake the dust off his feet and would shake off his garment as a sign and witness against them. In all reality that which the apostle Paul would do here in Corinth was the same thing he had already done on his first apostolic and missionary journey. The apostle Paul would witness and behold the unbelief, the envy, the resistance, the opposition and the resistance of the Jews and as a direct result he would shake off his raiment and would shake the dust off his feet as a sign and witness against them.

 

            The more I think about and consider this concept of shaking off his raiment and shaking the dust off his feet the more I am reminded of the phrase “brush your shoulder off.” With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to emphatically declare that shaking off one’s raiment and shaking the dust off one’s feet is essentially a sign and witness against them but it is also a symbol of moving forward and beyond them. In Corinth we know find the apostle Paul once more shaking off his raiment in the sight and presence of the Jews as a sign and symbol that he was moving on from them unto the Gentiles. In all reality the words we find here in this passage of Scripture is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you consider it for in the shaking off of his raiment the apostle Paul was essentially moving on from the Jews and purposing to go unto the Gentiles. The apostle Paul had witnessed, observed and experienced the resistance and opposition of the Jews in many of the cities whereunto he traveled and journeyed to and here in Corinth I would dare say everything came to a head as the apostle Paul would from that moment on purpose and determine that he would go unto the Gentiles. In fact the more you read the words found in the book of Acts—specifically beginning with the thirteenth chapter—the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the reality of the Gentiles themselves being open and receptive to the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Although the apostle Paul would teach and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the Jews first the Jews would vehemently oppose and resist the gospel of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the cities whereunto the apostle Paul and his companions would journey unto. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for although the apostle Paul would indeed teach and preach the gospel unto the Jews first and foremost it would be the Jews who would themselves resist and oppose the gospel and word of the Lord Jesus.

 

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the actions and words of the apostle Paul here in this passage and how the apostle Paul would not only shake off his raiment in the sight of the Jews but would also declare their own blood be upon their heads for he was clean in the sight of the living God. Not only this but the apostle Paul would purpose to go unto the Gentiles alone for the Gentiles welcomed, received and seem to embrace the truth of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Much like the publicans and sinners were those who seemed to be open to the words which the Lord Jesus spoke during those three and a half years He was present among us as the Word made flesh so also would the Gentiles be those who would accept, hear, receive and believe the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the apostle Paul would indeed make every attempt to teach and preach the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the Jews, however, the Jews would harden their hearts, close their ears and give themselves unto unbelief, envy, blasphemy and opposition. The Jews in many of the cites whereunto the apostle Paul would journey would vehemently oppose the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and would not hear or receive that which the apostle Paul would teach and preach in the midst of their city. The apostle Paul would in fact come unto the Jews first and would enter into their synagogues teaching and preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and yet the Jews themselves would oppose and resist the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus as they would harden their hearts and stop their ears from hearing that which the apostle Paul would teach and preach.

 

            Oh I have to admit there is something truly astonishing and powerful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words present here before us brings us face to face with the tremendous truth of shaking the dust off our feet and even shaking off our raiment and garment in the sight and presence of others. There is something unique and captivating about shaking the dust off our feet and shaking off our raiment for it is a symbol and witness of moving on and moving forth from that place whereunto we came. Would it surprise you to learn and discover that it is okay to move on from that place whereunto you might have come or that place whereunto you might have come. The apostle Paul would come unto various cities where he would teach and preach the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto the Jews first and the unbelieving Jews would themselves resist and oppose the word and message the apostle Paul would teach and preach. Not only this but the Jews would in many cases incite the crowd and mob of people in those cities to riot and uproar against the apostle Paul and his companions. The apostle Paul and his companions would witness firsthand the unbelief of the Jews together with the hardness of their hearts and there would be specific times when they would shake the dust off their feet and shake off their raiment against them as a sign and witness given by the Lord Jesus. Shaking the dust off one’s feet and shaking off one’s raiment is indeed and in fact a powerful witness and testimony unto and against them and their blasphemy, their opposition, their resistance and the hardness of their heart. It is absolutely necessary we draw our attention to this tremendous truth for there is something to be said about shaking the dust off our feet and shaking off our raiment as a sign and witness unto those to whom we have come and perhaps even been sent.

 

            I read the words found here in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the absolutely intriguing truth of the apostle Paul preaching and teaching the Jews in their own synagogue the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and their opposing themselves and blaspheming. The unbelieving Jews which were present in the cites whereunto the apostle Paul came would and could not believe and accept that Jesus was Christ and that Jesus was Lord—the only begotten Son of the living God who suffered in the flesh and who would rise from death to life again on the third day. The Jews themselves were such as could and would not believe that Jesus was the Christ and would not confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus nor believe that the living God raised Him from death to life again on the third day. Although salvation was appointed unto the Jews first it would be the Jews who would resist and oppose the message and word of salvation—even though it was nigh unto them and even in their mouths and hearts. What makes this all the more captivating is when you consider the truth that many of the Jews knew what was written in the scriptures and many of the Jews knew what was written in the Law and the prophets—even that which was written concerning Christ—and yet they would and could not believe or accept this Jesus of Nazareth as being Christ and the Son of the living God. The Jews—although they knew the Law and the prophets—would and could not accept this Jesus of Nazareth as both Lord and Christ nor could they accept Him as the Son of the living God. It would be this hardness of heart and unbelief that would cause them to vehemently oppose and resist the word and gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto them.

 

            The more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I come face to face with the truth surrounding Paul in the midst of the city of Corinth and how he first taught and preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the Jews. The Jews would themselves resist and oppose the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and as a direct result the apostle Paul would not only shake off his raiment but would also purpose to go unto the Gentiles. If there is one thing I so absolutely love about what is found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is how the apostle Paul would purpose to preach the gospel unto the Gentiles from that moment on and how he came unto a certain man’s house named Justus—one who worshipped God and whose house joined hard to the synagogue of the Jews. Luke goes on to write how Crispus who was the chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his house as well as how many of the Corinthians hearing the word which the apostle Paul preached believed and were baptized. It is at this juncture I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth surrounding something that is found over and over again within the New Testament book of Acts—namely the concept of certain men and/or women believing on the name of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that there are numerous times within the New Testament book of Acts when we not only read of certain men and women believing on the Lord Jesus but also their entire household believing. Not only this but we also read of both that man or woman believing on the Lord Jesus together with their household but we also read of their entire household believing on the Lord Jesus. Oh if there is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the New Testament book of Acts it is this concept of one believing on the Lord Jesus together with their entire household. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding men and women together with their entire household believing on the name of the Lord Jesus and being baptized.

 

            I sit here considering the words found in the New Testament book of Acts and I find myself being absolutely gripped and captivated with the reality that it wasn’t merely men and women who believed in the Lord Jesus but they believed together with their entire household. You will recall in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book how Cornelius and his entire house were gathered together in the presence of the apostle Paul when he preached the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto them. It would be there in the house of Cornelius both he and his entire house would be filled with and receive the Holy Ghost. It would be there in the house of Cornelius that one man and his entire house would believe on the Lord Jesus and would not only receive the Holy Ghost but would also be baptized. This is important for us to recognize and understand—particularly when we come to the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book—for when we come to this chapter we find the jailor of the prison in the city of Philippi asking the apostle Paul and Silas what he must needs do to be saved. The apostle Paul would instruct him to believe and baptized, both he and his entire house. What we find next is absolutely astonishing and incredible when you take the time to consider it for Luke records how not only did the jailor clean and wash the stripes and wounds of Paul and Silas, and not only did he set meat before them but both he and his entire household believed on the name of the Lord Jesus and were baptized. Oh stop and consider just how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to understand the tremendous significance of one believing on the name of the Lord Jesus together with their entire household. Not only this but also one person believing on the Lord Jesus and as a direct result their entire household believes and is baptized in water in the sight and presence of the living God.

 

            This reality of one believing on the Lord Jesus together with their whole house is something that is found repeatedly within and throughout the book of Acts. In all reality I would dare say that it is one of the greatest themes found in this book for not only do we encounter the tremendous truth of many disciples being added unto the church daily such as should be saved but we also find men and women together with their household believing on the Lord Jesus. It is in the second and fourth chapters we find the brethren gathering together in houses and homes alike that they might give themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, to the breaking of bread and to fellowship. In addition to this tremendous truth we are brought face to face with men and women together with their entire household believing on the Lord Jesus and being baptized. It was in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book we find Cornelius and his entire household not only being baptized but also receiving the Holy Ghost. Pause for a moment and think about what it’s like when you or a member of your household believes on the name of the Lord Jesus, receive the Holy Ghost and are baptized. Now think about what it’s like if you and your entire household believe on the Lord Jesus and are baptized. If there is one thing found in this New Testament book of Acts that is truly remarkable and astonishing it’s the narrative and accounts of entire households believing on the name of the Lord Jesus. Scripture is unclear how large Cornelius’ household was, nor how large the Philippian jailor’s house was nor even how large the chief ruler of the synagogue of the Jews in the city of Corinth was. To help put this in perspective I would like to draw your attention back to the Old Testament book of Genesis when Jacob learned that his son Joseph was not only alive but was also the second in command in the land of Egypt under Pharaoh. Upon invitation from his son Joseph Jacob and his entire household would journey from the land of Canaan unto the land of Egypt—the total number of souls numbering seventy.

 

            Pause for a moment and think about one of the most important and powerful truths found in the New Testament book of Acts for within it we not only find men and women being added unto the number of the brethren daily and we not only find men and women believing on the name of the Lord Jesus but we also find whole houses believing on the name of the Lord Jesus and being baptized. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in the book of Acts is not only how men and women would themselves believe on the name of the Lord Jesus but also how entire houses and households would believe. What’s more is that more often than not these houses and households would believe on the Lord Jesus at the same time and on the same day as they would be baptized in water and would be added unto the number of the brethren. Stop and consider just how powerful the work of the gospel and name of the Lord truly was during the days of the apostles as whole households were added unto the church. In all reality I am reminded of the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Joshua when prior to his death and departure unto the way of his fathers Joshua called for the children of Israel to choose themselves on that day whom they would serve—whether it be the gods of their fathers on the other side of the Red Sea, the gods in the land of Egypt, the gods of their fathers in the land of Canaan and even the gods on the other side of the great flood. With this clarion call given by Joshua to choose themselves on that day whom they would serve he also emphatically declared that as for he and his house they would serve the Lord. Consider if you will the following words are found in the final chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua:

 

            “And Joshua gathered all the trihbes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said unto the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, Even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red Sea. And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hiviites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out before, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincierty and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt; an serve ye the LORD> And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:1-15).

 

            The New Testament book of Acts is absolutely remarkable when you take the time to consider that there were multiple times when entire houses and households believed on the Lord Jesus and were baptized. This is perhaps one of the greatest truths found within the New Testament book of Acts for within this book we don’t merely find individuals believing on the Lord Jesus and being saved but we find whole households coming to the faith in a single time. Pause for a moment and consider when the last time was you witnessed and beheld an entire house believing on the Lord Jesus at the same time. When was the last time you witnessed an entire house believing on the name of the Lord Jesus and as a direct result they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and baptized? In all reality I would dare say there are events and occurrences which took place in the New Testament book of Acts that were standard and common for the early church and followers of Jesus and yet are not standard among us within our generation. Stop and consider what a mighty and powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit would be needed for entire houses, households and families to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and be saved. In all reality I believe that what was standard for the early Church during the days of the apostles and early church fathers is the furthest thing from our modern experience with the gospel and with the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus. I read the words found in this New Testament book and am absolutely gripped and captivated with entire households coming to the faith in the Lord Jesus as they not only believed on Him but were also baptized. Moreover I am absolutely captivated with the tremendous truth of entire households being filled with and receiving the Holy Ghost and how the Lord didn’t merely add individuals to the church but added entire households. What’s more is in the case of Cornelius and the jailor in Philippi I would dare say they were both the start and beginning of churches which would be established among them within their cities. Oh that we would be a generation in these Last Days who would not merely witness single souls believing on the name of the Lord Jesus but entire households committing themselves to the faith in the Lord Jesus and being baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely compelling that despite the apostle Paul witnessing the opposition and blasphemy of the Jews he would remain in the city of Corinth for a full year and a half. Luke records how the Lord Jesus would appear unto the apostle by night and would encourage him not to be afraid in the midst of the city. The beloved physician Luke records how the Lord Jesus would speak to the apostle Paul in the night by a vision to not be afraid but speak and hold not his peace. Moreover, the Lord Jesus would declare unto the apostle Paul that He was with him and no man would set upon him to do him hurt for He had much people in that city. Pause and consider how absolutely incredible and tremendous that encouragement from the Lord would have been for not only did the Lord declare that He was with him but also that no man would set upon him to hurt him. The Lord encouraged the apostle Paul to speak boldly in the city of Corinth without fear for He had much people in the city. It is absolutely incredible to read the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the apostle Paul for the words He spoke unto Him are very much similar to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthians. If you continue reading in the New Testament you will find two distinct epistles written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and it is in the second epistle where he speaks about the many trials, troubles, afflictions, suffering and persecution he endured. The apostle was no stranger to suffering nor to affliction and while in Corinth the Lord would be with him protecting him from all manner of harm and hurt. It would be this encouragement from the Lord that would enable the apostle Paul to tarry and abide among these in this city for a full year and six months. It is absolutely incredible to read the words which are recorded in this passage of Scripture and truly see how the Lord undertook and upheld him that he might an effective minister for the sake of the gospel. It is with this in mind I leave you with the following words which the apostle Paul wrote in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints:

 

            “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stipes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Corinthians 11:23-30).

 

            “For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be as a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:4-10).

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