The Story of the Early Church in Acts

67 AD

I’m living dangerously showing a book I haven’t seen yet. Inevitably I find another typo or something lost while digitally transferring, or just something. However, you can be assured any errors are my own, and all are unintentional, Praise the Lord.

After about a year and a half, here it is. Lots of work and separate studies went into this study of the Book of Acts. Amazing, really, what you find when you think about the translations and then seek to illustrate. After awhile, in some of the time periods, I got a little tired of angry people stirring up mobs or seeking to get Paul right up to the time he gets on the ship to Rome in chains, with Roman guard.

It was interesting though to learn about Judaan tradition, Roman military, (both, I believe, spurring the growth of the church) and especially the coming of the Holy Spirit into His ecclesia and the growth of the early church.

There is a full acknowledgement page of the many resources I used. I thank you all for those.

It is expensive to buy, partly because of the 8″ x 10″ crop size, over 250 pages, and full color.


I decided to publish only with Barnes and Noble this time. I might change my mind later, but I always loved Barnes and Noble.

Having begun this series after Acts ended, I’m now returning to the story in Acts in this book, and then on to study the letters he wrote during that stretch of time and circumstances… Galatians first.


And did my Sovereign die! Would he devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?”

For God so loved the world – you and me – and all of humankind, He sent His Son, Jesus.

We are loved by God. Each of us is fully known and loved, perfectly made by God alone.

Known. Seen. By God, Whose fingerprints are on our being and Whose breath is in our lungs.

He sent Jesus, His Son, to remove all barriers that might prohibit our full reception of His Love…

Barriers, the things that hurt us, the things He took into Himself and into death to free us into His Love… He frees us from things like sin and the dark things in the world, deception, and disbelief… He removes those things from us when we believe. He also gives us the belief in His time.

Christ Our Liberty – ©Bohlender

Believe we are loved by Him… That Jesus came to bring us God’s Love, and in Him we possess the very Life of God, Who is Love.

Jesus resurrected in the Life of the Father. He sent His Spirit to live in us. Our Father brings us into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love. “…so that in ages to come, He might show the surpassing riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

This painting shows the Lamb of God, the angels escorting His Spirit into the open Door in the heavens, the transfer of His Life. “Father, receive My Spirit.”

As Jesus is Freedom, and He releases us from anything that prohibits our following Him, I modeled this painting after the Liberty statue, with Emma Lazarus’ poem…” Give Me your tired, your poor,…” and Jesus is the Lamp, the Light, lifted up for all to come to Him.

I painted this in 1996 or 97? using oils on canvas, and bits of gold leaf embedded into the trail of the angels and Spirit. It isn’t as convincing of a work as Nickolai Ge’s “Crucifixion”, but I believe it tells His Story.

Praise the Lord for His loving Grace.

“Taste the goodness of the Lord: welcomed home to His embrace,

all His love, as blood outpoured, seals the pardon of His grace.

Can I doubt His love for me, when I trace that love’s design?

By the cross of Calvary, I am His and He is mine.

His forever, only His – who the Lord and me shall part?

Ah, with what a rest of bliss, Christ can fill the loving heart.

Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline,

but while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.”

-Wade Robinson (1890)


A few years back, perhaps a few more, I had read Billy Graham’s book “Storm Warning”. I was deeply impressed and inspired by his writings about Revelation 6 and Matthew 24. The following is an excerpt from his book.

“The four horsemen of the Apocalypse point inevitably to deeper moral and spiritual problems that affect our lives. But each is unique. Each carries his own agenda. In every age, we have seen precursors of the horsemen riding over the earth.. They gave warning to the first century churches in Asia, and their warnings apply to the church today.

“Jesus Himself underscored these warnings with a command: ‘Therefore keep watch’ (Matthew 24:4). ‘Watch out that no one deceives you’ (Matthew 24:4). This is representative of the white horse who carries one who imitates Christ and promises a false peace.

“‘You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed'” (Matthew 24:6). This depicts the red horse that takes away peace and brings war.

“‘There will be famines and earthquakes in various places’ (Matthew 24:7). This is the black horse that will wipe out the food supply, leading the nations into severe hunger.

“‘Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put the death'” (Matthew 24:9). The fourth horse is the only one of the four with a name and a color to match: the pale horse called Death.

“…’I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown’ (Revelation 6:1-2). As suddenly as he appeared the rider kicked the flanks of the white stallion and raced toward the earth ‘as a conqueror bent on conquest’ (Revelation 6:2).

“…The text says he is wearing a crown and carrying a bow of great destruction in his hand. In Revelation 19, Christ is pictured on a white horse wearing many crowns. This had led some to believe that the rider on the white horse in Revelation 6 is also Christ. I do not believe this to be the case. In the Greek text, the crown worn by the rider of the white horse is called stephanos, which would refer to the crown of victory worn by a conqueror. The crowns Christ wears in Revelation 19, on the other hand, are diadema, or the crowns of royalty. Although the rider on the white horse bears a resemblance to Christ, his appearance is actually (and no doubt deliberately) deceptive. A closer look reveals his true nature. He is ‘a conqueror bent on conquest,’ greedily riding roughshod over all who stand in his way – the rider of the white horse is characterized by his lust for power, destruction, and deceit.

“Who, therefore, is the rider on the white horse? He is not Christ, but a deceiver who seeks to capture the hearts and mind of all mankind He is one who seeks to have people acknowledge him as Lord.”

There is so much more he wrote of, but this part and an earlier part in the book greatly impressed me. So it worked inside me for awhile until it came to be a painting.

Revelation 6 – 48″x 36″ – Oil – ©Bohlender

Deception, War, Hunger, Death.

The Lord in us keeps us from deception, he will finish what He began…

The process of the painting was first all the above, then needing horses. So I went to a barrel racing arena, laying down (behind a fence) photographing into the view of the third barrel at which point the riders would rev up to race to the finish. Those positioning on the horses are actually cowgirls who could really ride, and their horses! Oh their horses! The cowgirls were actually beautiful women from whom I borrowed their posturing and tools, replacing them with the figures and weapons of the 4 horsemen.

The first horseman grasped my attention, and all I could see was lizardine eyes. I saw them but could not quite capture the unmentionable/untranslatable that was in them. It is cringeworthy. It was vile. Sometimes we can see that in the world today. Deception. “Therefore keep watch.”

Behind the horses in the light from whence they were released, are faces representing the souls of those crying out for justice from under the altar…. the rest is pretty much self explanatory, through the swirl of time and eras.

I think I painted this in 2014? This came up again during breakfast, re-reading the book.

My personal understanding and hope is that the ecclesia, the out-called, the church will be brought up to him soon. He is still the Light in the world in His out-called believers. I cannot easily bear to look into the darkness.


Today I was remembering my friend Junior. Friends are rare, and good. Junior was a cowboy, I was empty nesting and mid-lifeing and everything that comes during that time. Junior and his wife blessed me so much then.

Everything I learned about cowboys, I learned from Junior. He took me out where the cowboys work, explaining what they do and how. He kept me from causing catastrophes while I was out there, and was responsible for allowing me the chance to paint the entire cowboy series from my experience there.

These are two images of paintings with Junior. He is wearing the black hat. The first one is entitled “Tellin’ A Windy”, and the second I can’t remember the title, but I consider it to be one of my apex pieces.

Some of what I learned about ranchers is that they are excellent stewards of both land and animals. And they love both.

Junior has been away now for 2 years. It seems awhile longer than that.

“Tellin’ A Windy” – 24″x20″ – Oil

And then,

Someone else who less personally had great influence in my life was Gene. Gene has recently gone “from breath to air”….

His books have contributed much to my life in the adventure of being in Jesus, of He in us, of His Presence and Livingness now. Church Life as being in Christ, experiencing Him, and sharing Him.

Church Life expressed practically through us, or “putting wheels on it”, Gene had much more to say about that than I could know. That, too, is arranged and fulfilled by Jesus’ Life in His people.

Some brothers must have enjoyed “Star Wars” along with Gene, as for a special event for his 60th birthday, one brother asked me to paint this for them. Captain and First Mate. So also I found it fun to place an altered version of the intro to the original Star Wars program, as Captain Gene may have told it:

Outside of time and space, the final Frontier
These are the voyages of the Ecclesia Enterprise
Her forever mission
To explore New Realms
To seek out His Life
And rest in His Love
To boldly go where Christ in you has gone before…

Well, maybe he would have said that a better way.

And below an image of some saints, sharing in the Love of our Jesus together, singing in a brotherly embrace… Gene was not a fan of pews.

Memories of people we love… remembering times with them. God is good. Whatever our lives are, it is given by God from His Love…

As far as new work goes, I am about half way through another episode of Grandpa and the Boys, this time, planting a baby grapevine together, in the dirt. Young boys and old boys love playing in dirt. If I don’t screw it up, it will be a good one. It is an oil, 28″x22″. And also, I am now working in chapter 20 of Acts. Lord give grace in all the work. Amen.


Sometimes it seems that those against us are greater, but, “Lord, open our eyes that we may see.”

“Do not fear for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6

In the strength of Your might, Lord, make us to stand.

“Stand Therefore” – 20″ x 30″ – Oil ©2022

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who shall be heirs of salvation?” – Heb. 1:14

The angels, messengers, are standing. They are prepared, entering, waiting. And we put on the full armor of God so that we may stand in the strength of His might…. “Having done all, to stand.”

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”