In the Word: Week 1 of the Apostles

Apostles

Assignment Week 1:

We are reading Acts 1 through 3. There is a lot of information in this first week. Acts will probably be tedious at first. I wanted to have the bulleted lists formatted better, but the html code was acting all wonky, so I did my best…

Background:

This book is believed to be written by Luke, most likely shortly after he wrote the book of Luke, during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, which occurs at the end of Acts.

Acts is considered to be the second volume of two works he sent to Theophilus. Colossians 4:11 and 14 imply that Luke was a Gentile, making him the only Gentile writer of a Bible book (Halley’s Handbook 2007). Intriguing!

According to Halley’s, he was a man of culture, scientific education, a physician, a master of the Greek language, and an accomplished historian. Sounds like a doer, but there’s something I already like about Luke just from reading this list.

Context:

Acts pick up where the book of Luke ends. Jesus has died and been resurrected. At the end of Acts, Luke mentions that Jesus has ascended into heaven. Acts elaborates on the ascension and begins to tell the story of what happens to the apostles after Jesus ascends. Acts is a book of history, so we will be putting together a lot of historical details at first.

Highlights of Our Weekly Reading:

Chapter 1:

  • There were 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension.
  • Jesus reminded them of the Father’s promised gift – that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit before they left Jerusalem.
  • Jesus told them that they would not know when the kingdom would be restored to Israel.Jesus ascended to Heaven.
  • Two men told the apostles that Jesus would return the same way he had left. He ascended from the Mount of Olives into the clouds. One assumes he will return from the clouds to the Mount of Olives.  This affirms Zechariah’s prophecy in Zech 14: 1-5, which also affirms Matthew 24:26-31, and Revelation 1:7.
  • The 11 (Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James) stayed in prayer in the upper room along with the women, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers.
  • Peter spoke to the believers at the time (120 in all) to tell them why Judas died to fulfill prophecy. Psalm 69:25 and 109:6-8, also, Matthew 27:6-10, Zech 11:4-17 (key focus verses 11-12)
  • They casts lots to replace Judas and Matthias was chosen.

Chapter 2

  • Pentecost is considered the birthday of the church.
    • This occurs 10 days after the ascension and 50 days after the resurrection in the year 30 a.d. Pentecost means 50 days. Pentecost traditionally occurred 50 days after the Feast of the Firstfruits. Christ was resurrected on this day and He is considered the first fruit of the New Covenant.
      • Just an extra tidbit, he was crucified on the day of Passover, which was representative of the lambs slain in Egypt.
      • The Feast of Unleavened Bread began the day after Pentecost and lasted for seven days, so the Feast of Firstfruits was held within this time frame. Jesus was symbolic of the unleavened bread, as leaven represents sin, and He is sinless.
    • Pentecost is also known as the the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks. See Deut 16:9-12. It was a one day celebration.
    • During this celebration two loaves of bread were offered, using leavening. It is said that these loaves  represent the church or bride of Christ, one being the Jews and the other being the Gentiles.
    • Traditionally in the celebration of Pentecost, the entire book of Ruth is read. If you have some extra time, read this book. It is only four chapters long. It is a celebration of the harvest season AND a Gentile women married into the faith. She actually is part of the bloodline of Christ. It is a great picture of the Redeemer.
  • The Holy Spirit came to rest on believers during Pentecost.
  • They began to speak in languages that were known to other men in the assembly but unknown to themselves.
  • Peter refers to the prophet Joel to say that what has happened was prophesied. He goes on to testify of the truth of Christ, saying he also fulfilled the prophecy of King David.
  • People were awakened to this truth; a total of 3,000 repented and were baptized.
  • verse 39 stands out to me: “for all who were far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
  • I am always amazed at how unified and together this early body of believers seem to be. They had everything in common, sold possessions, and gave to anyone as he had a need. And they continued to GROW.

Chapter 3

  • Peter heals the crippled beggar. There are a lot of lovely details to this story.
      1. He was crippled from birth. We are crippled until we are reborn.
      2. He was carried to the temple courts, but he needed what was inside, and he could not get in because of his condition. Peter and John carried God with them. They offered him what he needed.
      3. This occurred at 3 pm. The same time of Christ’s death, the moment when salvation could freely be offered.
      4. He was crippled, not blind, and yet he does not really see John and Peter until they call him to stop and look. Grace gave him eyes to “see” his new life.
      5. Peter and John had a duty to care for this man. They went beyond duty to give life to this man by offering Christ.
  • People are amazed at the man’s healing. Peter uses this opportunity to testify to Christ, telling them that they murdered the Messiah. He offers grace to them in that they acted in ignorance and can still repent and have sins wiped out. The points to the Second Coming. He reminds that all the prophets starting with Samuel have foretold these events.

Things to Think About:

  1. How does the detail God has put into his plan in Christ and the church encourage you?
  2. What elements of grace do you see in these chapters?
  3. Do you see some detail I did not find? Share it with me!

Next Week’s Reading: Acts 4 through 8:1a

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