This morning as I was reading a blog of a friend on some interesting words in Acts 15, I decided to do a word study on them. The blogger had pointed out the phrase ‘it seemed good to the Holy Ghost’. It got me to thinking about the spirit of God and how it works in us. In the book of Acts at that time, Paul hadn’t written the church epistles yet, nor were the gospels all written out in a nice leather bound book for everyone to put on their coffee table. What they had were eyewitness accounts and the gift of holy spirit that was given on the day of Pentecost. The Judean law and oral traditions were still very much a part of the culture, so things like circumcision which had been staple of the Judean religion before Christ was still a consideration in many of their minds.
The words ‘seemed good’ is the greek word ‘dokeo’. This word in other places is translated think, suppose, trow, pleaseth and seemeth good. I went back to the first use of ‘dokeo’ in the book of Acts and studied it’s use.
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased (eimi arestos) the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers (16 soldiers working in shifts) to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. 5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
An angel woke Peter up and told him to get up. This was not a dream. When the angel wanted to talk to Peter he needed to be awake. He would have to act on what the angel told him.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought (dokeo-seemed good) he saw a vision.
Peter didn’t know what was happening, he just went out and followed the angel. He thought that it was a spiritual revelation, not something physically real.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Recognizing the voice of God through one of God’s messengers, he carried out the instructions and was miraculously delivered from the prison ordeal. After the angel left, Peter was left with the reality of what happened. It really did happen!
We too often find ourselves in prisons of various types. God is a God of deliverance. We have the church epistles to explain spiritual matters (I Corinthians 12:1 pneumatikos -gifts is in italics) to us. We know the gift of holy spirit arrives with nine gadgets (I Corinthians 12:7-11) to operate and bring about success for ourselves and others. One can’t see spiritual things by the 5 senses, but men and women who trust God are fully knowledgeable that God can communicate to them by various means: by the word and by what is revealed to the holy spirit within by revelation. Some times if we are unsure because we don’t see something physically, we simply have to trust God. He always comes through! As we act, we realize the surety of the gift. It is pretty amazing how it works.