Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives. It is near Jerusalem, about half a mile away. When they came into the city, Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon the Zealot, and Judas (son of James) went to the second-story room where they were staying. The apostles had a single purpose as they devoted themselves to prayer. They were joined by some women, including Mary (the mother of Jesus), and they were joined by his brothers. At a time when about 120 disciples had gathered together, Peter got up and spoke to them.
During the night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia. The man urged Paul, "Come to Macedonia to help us." As soon as Paul had seen the vision, we immediately looked for a way to go to Macedonia. We concluded that God had called us to tell the people of Macedonia about the Good News. So we took a ship from Troas and sailed straight to the island of Samothrace. The next day we sailed to the city of Neapolis, and from there we went to the city of Philippi. Philippi is a leading city in that part of Macedonia, and it is a Roman colony. We were in this city for a number of days.
The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that people who were not Jewish had accepted God's word. However, when Peter went to Jerusalem, the believers who insisted on circumcision began to argue with him. They said, "You went to visit men who were uncircumcised, and you even ate with them." Then Peter began to explain to them point by point what had happened. He said, "I was praying in the city of Joppa when I fell into a trance. I saw something like a large linen sheet being lowered by its four corners from the sky. The sheet came near me.
From Miletus Paul sent messengers to the city of Ephesus and called the spiritual leaders of the church to meet with him in Miletus. When they were with him, he said to them, "You know how I spent all my time with you from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. I humbly served the Lord, often with tears in my eyes. I served the Lord during the difficult times I went through when the Jews plotted against me. I didn't avoid telling you anything that would help you, and I didn't avoid teaching you publicly and from house to house.
Saul kept threatening to murder the Lord's disciples. He went to the chief priest and asked him to write letters of authorization to the synagogue leaders in the city of Damascus. Saul wanted to arrest any man or woman who followed the way of Christ and imprison them in Jerusalem. As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?" Saul asked, "Who are you, sir?" The person replied, "I'm Jesus, the one you're persecuting. Get up!
I will create a new heaven and a new earth. Past things will not be remembered. They will not come to mind. Be glad, and rejoice forever in what I'm going to create, because I'm going to create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people to be a joy. I will rejoice about Jerusalem and be glad about my people. Screaming and crying will no longer be heard in the city. There will no longer be an infant who lives for only a few days or an old man who doesn't live a long life. Whoever lives to be a hundred years old will be thought of as young. Whoever dies before he is a hundred years old will be cursed as a sinner.
I'm telling you a mystery. Not all of us will die, but we will all be changed. It will happen in an instant, in a split second at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will come back to life. They will be changed so that they can live forever. This body that decays must be changed into a body that cannot decay. This mortal body must be changed into a body that will live forever.
Then Jesus appeared. He came from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to stop him and said, "I need to be baptized by you. Why are you coming to me?" Jesus answered him, "This is the way it has to be now. This is the proper way to do everything that God requires of us." Then John gave in to him. After Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up from the water. Suddenly, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down as a dove to him.
This was John's answer when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" John didn't refuse to answer. He told them clearly, "I'm not the Messiah." They asked him, "Well, are you Elijah?" John answered, "No, I'm not." Then they asked, "Are you the prophet?" John replied, "No." So they asked him, "Who are you? Tell us so that we can take an answer back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John said, "I'm a voice crying out in the desert, 'Make the way for the Lord straight,' as the prophet Isaiah said." Some of those who had been sent were Pharisees.
A song for going up to worship. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, it was as if we were dreaming. Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful songs. Then the nations said, "The LORD has done spectacular things for them." The LORD has done spectacular things for us. We are overjoyed. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, as you restore streams to dry riverbeds in the Negev. Those who cry while they plant will joyfully sing while they harvest. The person who goes out weeping, carrying his bag of seed, will come home singing, carrying his bundles of grain.