Showing posts with label Acts of Apostles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acts of Apostles. Show all posts

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Acts 28

The Islanders of  Malta welcomed them with unusual kindness. Since it was raining and cold, they welcomed the guests by building a fire for them. While Paul was gathering a pile of brushwood, a viper was seen biting Paul. The Islanders first thought it was a divine justice for a crime he has evaded punishment for. However, when Paul appeared  unharmed, they take him for a god.

The estate of the chief official of the Island, Publius, was nearby. They welcomed Paul and company and showed generous hospitality for three days. Paul healed the father of Publius. Hearing this, the rest of the sick on the Island were brought to Paul. He healed all of them. After the winter, Paul finally arrived at Rome, where he was allowed his own lodging with a single guard.

Paul mets the Jewish leaders, and again stressed that Moses and the prophets prophesied the coming of Christ. Paul quoted Isaiah’s teaching: "hearing you will hear, and not understand." The Jews disputed among themselves about Paul's teachings. Paul spent two years in a rented accommodation in Rome before his trial in Caesar’s court, freely preaching the gospel.
Acts 28:30-31 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
We do not know what exactly happened after this. Paul must have been released and gone to Spain before his imprisonment and execution which took place in AD 64 or AD 65. 

Acts 27

The year was AD 60. Paul was taken to Rome by three ships. First was a coaster from Caesarea to Myra, then a cargo vessel from Myra to Malta, and finally one from Malta to Puteoli.

Before starting their voyage, Paul warned them.
Acts 27:10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 
The centurion did not pay any attention to Paul's words and they started sailing late in the season. The favorable south wind changed into a terrible northeaster. For two weeks they were caught in the storm with no means of knowing where they were.

On the fourteenth night of the storm, Paul ministered to the passengers and crew. He commanded authority and gave courage to all 276 souls on-board and shared his vision that Lord has promised them safety, but the ship will be destroyed. He urged all of them to eat their food as much as they can, and then throw the rest of food to lighten the ship.

In the morning, they saw a sandy beach and tried to turn around the ship. The ship stuck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow was stuck and the ship could not move. The centurion, wanting to save Paul, prevented the soldiers from killing prisoners, who could escape. Those who could swim were asked to swim to the land, while others got there on planks or other pieces of the ship.

The shore they arrived at, was Malta.

Acts 26

Paul gave an autobiographical speech to the king. Against his Jewish accusers, Paul stressed the fact that Moses and those earlier prophets had long ago predicted the coming of Christ. 
Acts 26:24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
Paul spoke respectfully and said he was just fine. He asked if the king believed in prophets. The king asked if Paul was convincing him to become a Christian. To this, Paul said not only the king, but everyone who was listening to him. 

Agrippa said he was almost tempted to become a Christian, and commented that Paul should have been set free had he not appealed to Caesar.

Acts 25

When Felix was replaced, by Festus, Paul’s Jewish accusers decided to re-try the case against Paul.
Acts 25:3 They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.
Festus told them that they can go with him to Caesarea and press charges against him there. When Festus arrived back in Caesarea the following day, the court was convened to hear Paul's case. Several charges were pressed against Paul, but none of them could be proved.
Acts 25:9 Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?”
Paul legally appealed the case to Caesar, and Festus had to agree to it. Meanwhile, King Agrippa arrived in Caesarea to pay his respect to Festus. Upon hearing about Paul, he was interested in hearing Paul.

The trial began, and Festus made an opening speech explaining the situation of the Jews desiring his death and Festus observing nothing to warrant that.

Acts 24

Five days after Paul's transfer, the case came for hearing before the Roman governor, Felix. Ananias the high priest brought a lawyer named Tertullus, who opened the Jewish prosecution. Paul was accused of profaning the temple.

Paul, confident of Roman justice gave a succinct summary of events and declared that there were no witnesses to back up such false allegations, during all his frequent appearances at the temple.

Felix, whose wife was Jewish, was aware of the Christian way. He adjourned the proceedings of Paul.
Acts 24:23-24 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.
Felix hoped that Paul would bribe him and therefore sent for him and talked to him frequently. After two years, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. To curry favor for the Jews, Felix left Paul behind bars.

Acts 23

Paul boldly looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” Hearing this, the high priest asked those standing next to Paul to slap Paul in the face.

Paul shot back and rebuked the high priest for breaking the law by ordering slapping. When people asked, "How dare you insult God's high priest?"

Paul acted surprised and said, “How was I to know he was high priest? He doesn't act like a high priest. You’re right, the Scripture does say, ‘Don’t speak abusively to a ruler of the people.’ Sorry.”

Knowing how the Sanhedrin was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees, and how they hated each other, Paul decided to exploit their antagonism. He said, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” This created a chain reaction between those who were present there. The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.

The uproar was so violent, that the Roman commander rescued Paul from their presence. That night, Paul is told by an angel of the Lord in a dream that he will go to Rome and testify there.

Meanwhile, forty Jews vow not to eat or drink until they have set an ambush to kill Paul. Paul’s nephew learned about this plot, and Paul was warned. The commander was informed and Paul escaped to Caesarea, with a full military escort and a letter referring his case to the provincial governor. The letter said that Paul is not worthy of death. Paul awaited trial in Caesarea.

Acts 22

Paul started giving a sermon in Hebrew; he delivered an autobiography, explaining them about his persecution of Christians and subsequent conversion on the road to Damascus.

People listened to Paul'a recount of his own story. At the mention of his mission to the Gentiles, the crowd created a fresh wave of shout, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”

The commander ordered that Paul be interrogated under torture. Paul was strapped down and about to be flogged when he revealed his Roman citizenship. Those who were about to interrogate him were alarmed and withdrew immediately.

The Roman commander arranges a hearing of the charges against Paul before the Sanhedrin.
Acts 22:30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.

Acts 21

Paul further voyaged to Tyre and stayed there seven days. Similar parting took place there as well. They then went down south to Caesarea where Philip was living.

A prophet named Abagus came down from Judea, took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

When people heard this, they pleaded Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. However, Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem and said, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Paul received a warm welcome from his fellow Christians, including church leaders. There has been rumors circulating among Jews that Paul has been teaching Jews to abandon circumcision and the law of Moses. This issues takes precedence and Luke makes no mention about the relief effort which was Paul's primary goal.

With good intentions, James advised Paul:
Acts 21:23-24 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.
Paul listened to James and did what he suggested. When the days of purification was almost over, a group of conservative Jews from Asia (Turkey) created such a ferment that soldiers had to step in and carry Paul away to avoid lynching. Paul asked to be allowed to speak to the crowd, and addressed them in Hebrew.

Acts 20

Paul traveled through Greece and Macedonia to arrive at Troas. The details of this journey is recorded in the book of 2 Corinthians. He stayed in Troas for seven days.

Since Paul had to leave the following day, he kept on speaking late into the night. They were gathered on the third floor.
Acts 20:9-10 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 
He spoke with them until daylight and then arrived in Miletus.

Paul was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. He was preoccupied with thoughts of those poverty stricken Christians in Jerusalem. From Miletus, he sent for the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him there. This was a painful parting. This is the only speech Paul gives to Christians (in the book of Acts). Also, this is the only address which Luke actually heard.

Paul was able to foresee the troubles the church will face, both from inside and out. He said he would face chains and tribulations in Jerusalem. The prospect of testifying to the Gospel filled him with joy. He foretold them that none of them will ever see him again. He also said he was innocent of the blood of any of them. He also warned them, "Be on your guard."
Acts 20:29-31 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
He said he had not coveted anybody's gold, silver or clothing. He reminded them the words of Jesus Christ, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Acts 20:36-38 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
Paul tearfully departed Ephesus.

Additional Info 1
Before leaving Ephesus, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. He wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia.

My Thoughts
With tears, Paul had been watching over them for many years. How painful it is to say goodbye to such folks?

Acts 19

When Apollos was in Corinth, Paul arrived in Ephesus. There he found some disciples of John the Baptist who had not yet heard about the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
They willingly got baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit. There were about twelve of them and with the help of the Holy Spirit, they were able to prophesy.

Paul was preaching about the Kingdom of God in a Synagogue for three months. Some of them publicly maligned the way. Therefore, Paul held discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, instead of the Synagogue. This went on for two years and all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Word about Paul's teaching and healing along with a remarkable exorcism spread like wildfire throughout the city. Seven sons of a Jewish chief priest tried to exorcise in the name of the Lord Jesus. The evil spirits did not recognize them, and instead hurt them. When Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus heard about this, they brought their scrolls and burned it openly.
Acts 19:20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Paul's teaching spread the word, "gods made with hands are not gods." Demetrius, a maker of idols, opposed Paul because his business has suffered. He encouraged other silversmiths and craftsmen that Paul’s preaching against pagan idolatry will ruin their trade. Together they started a riot, dragged Paul's companions to the great theater and chanted slogans. After two hours, the town clerk pacified the crowd and declared Christians innocent. 

Acts 18

Paul arrived in Corinth and stayed with tent-makers Aquila and Priscilla. Every Sabbath he went to the Synagogue and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy joined him from Macedonia, Paul devoted much of his time for preaching among Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. When they became abusive, Paul became furious and said, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Paul then stayed with Titius, a worshipper of God, where he received encouragement from the Lord.
Acts 18:9-10 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 
Paul therefore stayed in Corinth for 18 months. The Jews of Corinth made an unsuccessful attempt to convict Paul before the civil authorities.
Acts 18:13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”
The proconsul did not interfere in the matter as it involved religious decisions and asked them to settle the matter among themselves.

Moving on, Paul traveled to Syria along with Aquila and Priscilla. Before the journey, Paul cuts his hair in order to assume a Nazarite vow. Paul traveled to Ephesus, Antioch, Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all disciples.

Meanwhile in Ephesus, a fervent Jew named Apollos had arrived. He had received the baptism of John the Baptist. Aquila and Priscilla when they heard him, they instructed him the way of God and about Jesus Christ.

Acts 17

When Paul and company arrived in Thessalonica, they went to the synagogue on Sabbath days and explained the scriptures. His message to the Jews was, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”

Some Jews and a large number of God fearing Greeks joined Paul and Silas. The remaining Jews who were jealous, rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, and started a riot in the city. They attacked the house where Paul and Silas were staying.

In Berea, situated about 60 miles to the west, Jews were noted for their open minded study of the scriptures. Troublemakers from Thessalonica followed them to Berea and forced Paul to depart. Silas and Timothy stayed back. Paul proceeded to Athens.

Waiting for them in Athens, Paul was greatly distressed to see the city full of idols. Athens was a city with over 1,000 years of history and great glory. It was the home of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. It was home to the greatest university of the world, center of philosophy, literature, science and art.

He preached to those Epicurean and Stoic philosophers from Jewish scriptures. All those Athenians and foreigners staying there wanted to hear Paul's teaching.

Paul started his speech with a positive comment that the Athenians were religious. Soon he pointed out one of their own writings that they were praying to AN UNKNOWN GOD. He continued:
Acts 17:24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands." 
Finally he concluded that they should repent and believe in Jesus, whom God had raised from the dead.

Athens proved to be a hard ground for the gospel. Paul's message did not change, but a different audience calls for a different presentation.

Acts 16

Paul and Silas visited Derbe and then Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived. Paul circumcised Timothy, a Christian with a Jewish mother but a Greek father, so there would be less hindrance to his ministry among the Jews. Paul had a special affection for Timothy for his loyalty. He considered Timothy almost as his own son. The decision to circumcise Timothy was taken in order to establish his identity as a Jew, and not to secure his salvation.

They traveled through Phrygia and Galatia. The Holy Spirit forbid them from traveling to Asia. While at Troas, Paul has a night vision of a man inviting him to Macedonia.
Acts 16:9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 
Paul and his men traveled to Phillipi, which was the foremost city of Macedonia. One of the devout women, Lydia, who listened to them invited them to come stay with her.

In that town, they met with a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners, with her fortune telling skill.
Acts 16:17-18 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
The slave girl's owners realized their fortune to be lost. They seized and dragged Paul and Silas to the marketplace to face authorities. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for delivering the slave-girl from her demonic possession. At midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to the Lord.
Acts 16:25-26 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 
The jailer was about to kill himself, thinking his prisoners had escaped, but Paul and Silas revealed themselves to him. The jailer and his family were then baptized that night. The next day, Paul and Silas were freed by the magistrates. Paul revealed their Roman identity to the officers. He would not accept the freedom until he had an official apology for the illegal beating of a Roman citizen.
Acts 16:38-39 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.

Acts 15

It's been over 10 years or more, since apostles approved Cornelius and his household into the church. There was some opposition to this. When news about Paul's success with gentiles reached home, they raised a red flag and opposed Paul's teachings. Those who opposed Paul argued, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

An authoritative decision had to be made, to avoid a split in the church.

Then some said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

This became a serious matter of discussion among the apostles and they gathered to discuss this. This meeting is called the Jerusalem Council. Peter stood up and gave a speech. In conclusion he said, "We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Then James concluded the meeting saying, "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

They then drafted a letter for those Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, and send it through prophets Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, who accompanied Barnabas and Paul. The message said that only a minimal adherence to the law was required of Christian Gentiles. People who read this message were glad to hear this encouraging message. Only a minimal adherence to the law was required of Christian Gentiles. Barnabas and Paul remained in Antioch.

After some time, Paul and Barnabas made plans to visit all the churches they had established. However, they quarreled about whether to take John Mark with them or not. In the end, Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas with him to Syria and Cilicia.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Acts 14

A similar pattern and a mixed reaction is observed in Iconium. They spoke effectively and many were converted. Those Jews who did not believe stirred up and poisoned their brothers. Following an attempted stoning, they were forced to flee to Lystra. 

In Lystra, there was a man who was lame from birth and never walked. He was listening to Paul's speech. Looking at him, Paul said, "Stand up on your feet." Instantly, the man stood up and began to walk. 

Excited crowds declared that Barnabas and Paul were Greek gods visiting the earth. Despite their protests, they dubbed Barnabas as Zeus, the chief god of the Greeks and Paul as Hermes, the messenger god. The crowd even went one step further - they wanted to offer sacrifices for Barnabas and Paul. 
Acts 14:13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
When Barnabas and Paul heard about this, they tore their clothes and rushed out saying, “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them." 

Some Jews came from Antioch and won over the crowd. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city thinking he was dead. The next day Paul and Barnabas left for Debre. This was the furthest point on his first mission. The response there was good. Churches were established, and leaders were appointed. They sailed back to Antioch and stayed with disciples for a long time. 

Acts 13

Saul adopted the Roman version of his own name Paul.  From here on, Paul is the central figure in the book of Acts of Apostles.

While there were several prophets and teachers, The Holy Spirit set apart Barnabas and Saul for the church in Antioch for pioneer work. Accompanied by John Mark as their helper, they ministered in the cities of Seleucia, Salamas and Paphos.

In Paphos, a sorcerer and false prophet by name Bar-Jesus was an attendant of the proconsul. The proconsul was an intelligent man and wanted to hear from Barnabas and Saul (Paul). The sorcerer tried to turn the proconsul from faith and opposed Barnabas and Saul.
Acts 13:9-11 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” 
Immediately, the sorcerer became blind and had to be helped out. The proconsul witnessed this and was amazed at their teaching.

John Mark departed home before Paul and Barabas proceeded to Perga, then to Antioch. There, Paul delivered a sermon in the synagogue. It was given to a mixed audience of Jews, Gentile converts, and sympathizers. Paul gave a potted history of Israel, and stressed the Davidic lineage of Jesus Christ. He preached about the risen Christ, and alluded to the second psalm, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you." Paul also quoted Isaiah, saying that Christ is a light to the gentiles.

Paul told his listeners about forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus as the resurrected Messiah. When Jews noticed the popularity of Paul’s message, they become envious and were filled with jealousy. Jews expelled Paul and Barnabas from the region. They shook the dust from their shoes, and arrived at Iconium.

------Additional info------
Just few weeks ago, I was working with a consultant from Cyprus. He happened to be of Greek Orthodox faith. He explained to me about the history of the island including how Turkey invaded Cyprus and half the country is under Turkish dominion. 

Acts 12

While Barnabas and Saul were in Jerusalem, handing over famine relief effort from Antioch, Herod, the nephew of Antipas harassed the church, instigated a new wave of persecution. He killed James, the brother of John with a sword. With this action, his approval ratings rose among the Jews. His next step was to arrest Peter during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and locked him behind bars.

While Peter was in prison, the church was earnestly praying for him. The night before he was supposed to brought to trial, an angel of Lord caused Peter’s chains to fall off, and helped him escape a maximum security prison.

Peter after being released from the prison, went directly to the house of Mary, mother of John. A servant girl by name Rhoda told the apostles that Peter has arrived. However, they did not believe it until they saw Peter at the door for themselves. He explained to them about his miraculous escape.

The next morning, there was a large commotion at the prison. A thorough search was conducted for Peter, and they were unable to find him. Herod ordered the prison guards to be put to death.

Herod made friends with the people of Tyre and Sidon, whom he had been quarreling with, earlier.They depended on the king for their food.  On an appointed day, he was seated on his throne and delivered a public address. He was praised by them as a god rather than a man. On this, an angel struck him dead, because he does not glory to God. He was eaten by worms.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, records the king's sudden death in the year AD 44.

Barnabas and Saul finished their work and took with them John, the one they called Mark. 

Acts 11

Peter reported back these events that took place in Caesarea. The apostles and believers throughout Judea heard that Gentiles also received the word of God. When he arrived in Jerusalem, Jews object that Peter associates with gentiles. The asked him, You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

Peter recounted his vision of the sheet with clean and unclean animals on it. He gave them a mini speech and recalls the words of Jesus: John baptized with water, but I shall baptize with the Holy Spirit. He concluded saying, "If the gentiles receive the same gift as the Jews, who am I to withstand God?"
Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
The events at Caesarea and the criticism Peter faced would haunt Paul during every stage of his missionary work.

Now, the ones who were scattered during the death of Stephen had gone as far as Phonecia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among the Jews. Lord's hand was upon them and a large number of followers turned to Lord. Barnabas visited Antioch and was glad to see the grace of Lord being there. Barnabas then went looking for Saul in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch. Barnabas and Saul met with the people for a whole year and taught a great number of people. It was here at Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. 

A prophet from Jerusalem named Agabus, prophesied famine throughout the Roman world. Therefore, the disciples send relief to their brethren throughout Judea.

Acts 10

Peter and Cornelius

Up until now, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached only to Jews, converts to Judaism, and Samaritans, who observed the law of Moses. This is about to change and Lord reveals His plan that His message is for everyone.

Cornelius, was a God-fearing and God-serving Roman centurion, working in the Italian Regiment.One day he was told by an angel to go and get Peter from Joppa, who was staying with Simon the tanner. Cornelius, sent two servants and a soldier, out to Joppa to find Peter.

The following day, while Peter went up to the terrace to pray, he became hungry and had a trance. In his trance, Peter had a vision, wherein a sheet came down from heaven. The sheet has all kinds of clean and unclean animals on it. The Lord invited him to eat, and Peter refused, saying he had never touched anything unclean. This vision repeated three times, and the sheet reascended to heaven.

Apparently, this was a message from the Lord instructing Peter to break those Jewish food laws mentioned in Leviticus 11.

Peter was called out by those messengers who Cornelius has sent out.
Acts 10:19-20 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
Peter went along with the men. As Peter arrived, Cornelius fell down to Peter's feet in reverence to worship him. However, Peter said that that he was merely a man. Peter kept company with Cornelius, despite the fact that it was forbidden for a Jew to do so.

At the house of Cornelius, Peter preached about the risen Christ, and emphasized that all may be accepted by Him. The Holy Spirit descended upon the gentiles, who begin to speak in tongues, and they were baptized. The Jews present there were amazed.

Acts 9

Saul was on his way destroying Christians in Damascus, with a goal to being them back to Jerusalem to persecute.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Saul was struck blind. His travelling companions did not hear anything. God told Ananias to meet Saul, and gave directions where he could find him. Ananias laid hands on Saul, and the scales fell from his eyes and regained sight after three days.

A radical conversion took place and 'Saul the Persecutor' became 'Brother Saul.' Saul was baptised, and to everyone’s amazement, he preached in Damascus. His preaching became stronger and stronger. As a result, the Jews conspired to kill him. His followers helped him escapes in a basket over the walls of Damascus.

When Saul was in Jerusalem, he tried to join the apostles, but all of them were afraid of him. Later, Barnabas came and told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. Now, Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

After some time, he debated and was in dispute against those Hellenistic Jews, who tried to kill him. Followers of Christ send Saul to Tarsus. Meanwhile, those churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria prospered.

In Lydda, Peter healed Aeneas, who was bedridden with paralysis for eight years. He was then called to Joppa - about 12 miles north-west . There Peter raised a disciple Dorcas from the dead.

Peter stayed at Joppa with a tanner named Simon, a tanner. During those days, it was strictly forbidden for Jews to associate with anyone who routinely worked with dead animals.