Jewish Themes in the Book of Acts – Introduction

Some have suggested that the Book of Acts is mis-titled. I guess the question would be whom do you consider the main character of the story? Some say it is the Apostles, others say it is the Holy Spirit who shines as the star, or maybe even Jesus. I would suggest Acts is the second half of the gospel of Luke, or an account of Christ’s body in the Spirit. Acts is still Jesus’ story, just the story of his body in growth and action.

The Book of Acts

The Book of Acts in the New Testament is partly a historical account of how the church came to be. As Powell puts it, “It’s got earthquakes (16:26), shipwrecks (27:41-44), avenging angels (12:23), harrowing escapes (9:23-25; 21:30-36), riots (19:23-41), murder plots (9:23; 23:12-15; 25:1-3), political intrigue (16:35-39; 22:24-29; 24:26-27), courtroom drama (23:1-10), and so much more” (Mark Allan Powell, Introducing the New Testament, 191). It tells the story of how the gospel of Jesus spread after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. But the Book of Acts isn’t just about new beginnings. The content of Acts also carries the narrative of God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel. Acts is set up to continue the work of the gospel of Luke in connecting Jesus’ ministry to the history and mission of Israel.

If you haven’t read Acts recently you should to refresh your memory. If you don’t have time to read the whole book of Acts but want to get the gist of it, I would like to submit…

For the people of Israel, covenant relationship with God had always been a way of life. It was engrained in the fiber of their lives. The yearly observance of Passover recalled and renewed the release from captivity in Egypt through God’s faithful deliverance. The laws and rituals that guided their daily lives were expressions of holiness, intended to set Israel apart for God’s purposes, to be different from the rest of the world. As the church grew out of this Jewish perspective all of these preexisting conceptions of God and spiritual practice had to be reckoned with.

Is God only doing a new thing in the Book of Acts or is God continuing an old thing? Strangely enough, Acts tells of the people of God being community in totally new ways that are also entirely consistent with things from the past.

I think the central message of Acts is that God is bigger than Israel, yet inclusive of Israel. God is both doing a new thing and continuing an old thing. This is a great reminder for our day and time because God is bigger than the church, yet inclusive of the church. In the next post I will describe how Acts wasn’t the first time the Holy Spirit made an entrance…

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Dr. Gordon Fee – Book of Revelation video

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f62FMOmqPTU&feature=player_embedded

“Revelation wasn’t written to us, but we hear it as a word for us, once we understand it as a word for them, and what it was saying to them.”

Len Sweet wants you to help him write a book

What are the 100 words that make us Christian? When you boil Christianity down to its essence, what are the words that remain?

In a very open-source move, Dr. Sweet is allowing people to submit ideas for this book project. Here was my submission:

MEALNot only do many Christian events include the “potluck”, but it is the central symbol that Jesus left us to remember Him by. The meal of Passover. The meal atop Sinai. The meal that became a miracle and fed thousands. The meal with the wrong kind of people. The meal on Thursday night before His crucifixion. The meal after the resurrection in Emmaus. The meal on the beach. And the meal that believers gather around a table to share every Lord’s day. God’s invitation to “eat and drink freely.”

You can join your ideas at the 100 words website.

Quotes from Books I'm Reading, part 3

Currently there is a growing awareness that worship is the central ministry of the Church: Worship is the center of the hourglass, the key to forming the inner life of the Church. Everything the Church does moves toward public worship, and all its ministries proceed from worship. Good worship creates community, evangelical warmth, hospitality to outsiders, inclusion of cultural diversity, leadership roles for men and women, intergenerational involvement, personal and community formation, healing, reconciliation, and other aspects of pastoral care. Because worship is itself an act of witness, it is the door to church growth, to missions and evangelism, and to issues of social justice. Worship now stands at the center of the Church’s life and mission in the world.

Robert Webber, Planning Blended Worship, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1998, p. 29.