July 31, 2014 0

Episode 33 – The Acts of the Apostles

By in Blog, Podcast

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credit: loveintruth.com

credit: loveintruth.com

[TRANSCRIPT]

OK, gang, get ready for the longest podcast yet, and one of the busiest. Here comes a big old BOOK…

[INTRO MUSIC]

Hello, and welcome to BOOK, a bible podcast for everybody, I’m Josh Way. Here on BOOK we’re exploring the texts of the Jewish and Christian bibles, trying our best to understand their original purpose and meaning in light of history and literature. We’ve just finished looking at the four Greek gospels of the New Testament, and today we’ll look at the “Book of Acts,” which is actually the last fully narrative text in the collection, the rest consisting of mostly letters and an apocalyptic cartoon called Revelation.

The “Acts of the Apostles” as tradition has branded it, is the only canonized narrative about the deeds and experiences of the early Christian movement and the “apostles,” the ambassadors appointed by Jesus himself to spread his message to the “ends of the earth,” a.k.a. the corners of the Roman Empire. We’ll have much more to say about the message and methods of these first century evangelists, but first a few words about the origins and format of this book.

Having established this as the only “Acts” narrative in the canonized collection of the New Testament, it’s worth noting that it is not the only one in existence. Many others have been discovered: Acts of Paul, Thecla, Thomas, Barnabas, John, and others. While these lie outside the scope of this podcast, we should at least acknowledge their existence and our disadvantage for the lack of multiple “Acts” texts in the bible. We’ve just seen how dynamically diverse the four gospels are, and how that diversity helped us to appreciate the unique voice and perspective behind each one. With Acts, this is the only version we have of these tales, and we shouldn’t assume that these stories are any less artful and persuasive than anything we saw in the gospels.

Like the four books that precede it in the canon, Acts was written by an anonymous author, but is traditionally attributed to the same author as the Gospel of Luke. The opening of this book makes the connection explicit:

1 Dear Theophilus,

The previous book which I wrote had to do with everything Jesus began to do and teach. 2 I took the story as far as the day when he was taken up, once he had given instructions through the holy spirit to his chosen apostles.

Luke’s Gospel was also dedicated to Theophilus, and it did in fact end with Jesus being “taken up” into the sky. Seems rather straightforward, but things get complicated almost immediately. In both Luke and Acts Jesus tells his followers to remain in Jerusalem until they receive “power” from the holy spirit and then he leaves them. In Luke, it all happened on the same day as Jesus’ resurrection, but here in Acts it happens after “forty days.” Why the change? Of course we don’t know any more about this author’s thought process than we do about their identity, but an educated guess is that what we have here is the first of many intentional structural echoes of the gospel narrative. Just as Jesus patiently endured a (likely symbolic) “forty day” period of testing before beginning his prophetic campaign, so too the apostles must wait their “forty days” before their mission begins.

While they wait for this “holy spirit” character to show up, the apostles take care of a little business. They find themselves short-staffed after the loss of Judas Iscariot who, according to Matthew 27 hanged himself after returning the blood money to the Judaean authorities, but who here in Acts used the money to buy a field and then fell to his death. Either way, a position opens up, and it’s time to choose a new apostle! And… they choose a guy named Matthias we’ve never heard of before. By casting lots. Which is kinda weird. Christians don’t cast lots too often these days.

On to Acts Chapter 2, in which the “holy spirit” shows up in a big way. This is a hugely popular passage of scripture with Christians of many stripes, not least those labeled “charismatic.” We’ll see why in a moment. First, a nitpick: This episode is often referred to as “Pentecost” or, most egregiously, “The First Pentecost.” But this is certainly NOT the “first Pentecost” by any measure. The events of this chapter take place at a celebration of the Jewish festival of Pentecost, or Shavuot, the “Feast of Weeks,” a celebration of both the harvest and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. We’re not just stepping on the toes of our Jewish neighbors by getting this wrong, we’re also missing the poignant religious context in which this miracle unfolds. And what is the miracle? Here’s Chapter 2 Verse 2:

2 Suddenly there came from heaven a noise like the sound of a strong, blowing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then tongues, seemingly made of fire, appeared to them, moving apart and coming to rest on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the holy spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the spirit gave them words to say.

The apostles begin to preach in the busy streets of Jerusalem, where Jews from far flung places like Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Libya have congregated for the festival, and everyone hears them speaking in their own native language. This is the miracle that takes place at Pentecost, and I can think of at least two layers of literary significance. First off, it’s another echo of Luke’s gospel, where Jesus was anointed at his baptism by the holy spirit descending on him like a bird. Now his followers encounter that same spirit that fueled Jesus, and they’re ready to spread the word. On a broader level, this is a sort of reversal of the “Tower of Babel” legend. Where God had long ago confused the languages of men, he is now bringing them back together. Something very special must be happening. Of course, we should also acknowledge the significance of this miracle happening during Pentecost. Is the author suggesting that this is the coming of a new kind of Torah, or the beginning of a new kind of harvest?

Some of the onlookers accuse the apostles of being drunk, so Peter steps up and addresses the crowd, saying “uh, we’re not drunk – it’s nine in the morning!” He proceeds to preach a sermon to his fellow Jews which uses quotes from the Hebrew Bible to make two points: 1) the miracle they have just witnessed is a fulfillment of the writings of the prophet Joel, who said that God would “pour out his spirit” one day on all people, and 2) that Jesus had been “marked out” for Israel as Messiah, that Israel had manipulated Rome to have him killed, and that God had vindicated him in resurrection. The author of Acts says that the crowd of listeners are “cut to the heart,” and ask the apostles what they should do. Verse 38:

38 “Turn back!” replied Peter. “Be baptized – every single one of you – in the name of Jesus the Messiah, so that your sins can be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit.”

Peter’s words are very familiar, though they are traditionally taken out of context. “Repent and be baptized so your sins can be forgiven and you can go to heaven!” But let’s not lose the thread of this particular moment in this particular story. Peter (himself a Jew) has just accused a crowd of Jews of killing the Messiah. Now he tells them that they must repent and embrace the baptism that Jesus taught so that their collective sin – not least their complicity in the murder of the Messiah – can be forgiven and so they can participate in the outpouring of God’s spirit they have just witnessed. This isn’t about “saving souls” for heaven, it’s about a second chance to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. This is the primary concern for the author of Acts.

And the response is massive. According to Acts, three thousand people join the apostolic community. The text says that they all lived together, shared all of their possessions in common, and attended Temple together. This is remarkable in many respects. The first members of the Jesus movement formed a kind of hippie commune, and they all continued to observe Jewish customs. Did you catch that? They don’t give up Judaism for a new religion called Christianity, they remain Jewish and radically revise their lifestyle based on Jesus’ teaching. The movement gains traction and becomes known as “The Way.”

In Chapter 3 Peter and John perform some miraculous healings in and around the Temple complex that remind us more than a little of Jesus’ signs and wonders in the synoptic gospels. As crowds gather, Peter takes the opportunity to preach his message again: Israel killed the Messiah, but God raised him up. If they repent, God will send them “times of refreshment” (Acts 3:20). (Note that the apostolic mission at this point is still centered and contained within Israel. The question of a mission to non-Jews won’t be raised for a while.)

In Chapter 4, the Way hits its first patch of resistance, as the religious authorities arrest Peter and John for creating a public disturbance with their teaching and healing. The text says that the real motivation for the arrest is that the apostles, in talking about Jesus, are proclaiming the resurrection of the dead, an idea opposed by some influential factions of Jews. They interrogate Peter and John, asking them by what power they heal people, and Peter tells them it’s “the name of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:10). The council threatens them, warns them to cut it out, and lets them go.

An even darker incident is recounted in Chapter 5, when the apostolic community – now more than 5,000 strong – is selling their possessions and land and pooling the funds together to ensure that “there was no needy person among them.” In the midst of this, two members of The Way – a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira – sell some property and keep a portion of the profits for themselves, lying about it to the group. When they are caught in their deception, they both fall down dead. It’s a shocking episode and feels like something we’d be more likely to find in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, it’s very much like stories from early Israel where individuals break Torah commandments and are struck dead by YHWH. However, it’s worth acknowledging that the text never actually says that God struck Ananias and Sapphira down. They tell their lie, and they die. This may simply be a dramatic device linking The Way to ancient Israel, stopping short of actually suggesting that God is still in the business of smiting people.

A little later Peter and an unnamed group of apostles perform more healings and are thrown into prison a second time. The religious bigwigs hold council to discuss how to handle the problem. The prevailing suggestion is “kill the apostles,” but a Pharisee named Gamaliel advises his colleagues in a different direction. He warns them to “be careful,” for if this new movement is just a religious fad, it will die out and the crowds will eat them alive. But if, by some chance, it’s of divine origin, we’re going to be the ones who are in trouble. The council agrees and releases the apostles once again, this time after a light beating.

Back at the Jesus commune, a dispute breaks out among the adherents of the Way over the distribution of food. A committee is appointed to address the problem, and one of its members named Stephen quickly rises to prominence. He starts “performing wonders” and teaching about the Messiah in the local synagogues. In one particular synagogue, his fellow Jews are simultaneously mesmerized by Stephen’s wisdom and horrified by the “blasphemies” he is speaking. They object especially to his claim that Jesus has superseded Moses and the Temple. The high priest interrogates him, giving him a chance to clarify his teaching, and Stephen responds with a chapter-long discourse in which he retells the story of Israel, from Abraham to Jesus, with a rhetorical emphasis on Israel’s consistent rejection of God’s prophets culminating in her rejection of Jesus. This is basically the same message preached by Peter, but maybe it’s the way Stephen emphasizes Israel’s law-breaking and calls them “murderers” that provokes the priests and scribes to stone him to death, then and there.

In another moment that evokes Luke’s gospel, Stephen prays for his killers as he dies: “Lord, don’t let this sin stand against them!” The stoning is supervised by a devout Pharisee named Saul, who then leads an organized persecution against The Way and its adherents. This forces the Jesus commune to disband, and its members to flee into the surrounding territories. As a result, we get our first accounts of Jesus evangelism outside of Judaea, and a couple of fascinating encounters with non-Jewish characters.

In Samaria, to the north, an apostle named Philip starts telling the good news about the Messiah. Samaritans were semitic cousins of the Jews, not Jewish and yet not considered Gentiles either. Many hear the message and rejoice, much to the chagrin of a local magician named Simon who has been making his living astonishing Samaritans. Acts says that he “believed and was baptized,” but this is apparently just a ploy to get close to the apostles and attempt to learn their tricks. When he offers them money for the secret of the holy spirit, Peter tells him where to stick it and the apostles return to Jerusalem.

On the road, still in Chapter 8, Philip has an encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch, a Jewish convert who’s been to Jerusalem to see the Temple. Being African AND a eunuch, it’s highly unlikely that this fellow would have gotten very close to the Temple, and when Philip discovers him, he’s in his chariot reading scrolls of Hebrew scripture, puzzling over a passage from Isaiah about the rejection and humiliation of the mysterious “suffering servant.” Philip seizes the opportunity to talk about Jesus, whom he and the apostles firmly believed to be fulfillment of Isaiah’s words. The eunuch believes and is baptized on the spot.

In Acts Chapter 9 there is a major shift in focus, and we will spend most of the rest of this book following the exploits of a new apostle, one who will be the towering figure in the next several books of the New Testament. But unlike all of the apostles up to this point, this man was not one of the personal disciples of Jesus nor a member of the Jesus community. In fact, he is the one orchestrating their persecution, he’s the man who killed Stephen. This is Saul the Pharisee. How does an enemy of The Way who never knew Jesus personally become known as the greatest apostle of all time? Step one: he’s got to meet Jesus.

And that’s what happens, in a story so important it will be told THREE TIMES here in Acts, and again later in letters by Saul himself. As with most gospel and apostolic traditions, there’s a bit of wiggle room regarding the facts and details in the various versions of this event, but the basic story is always the same: Saul is on a journey to the northern city of Damascus to round up some Jesus followers when he is blinded by a bright light and hears the voice of Jesus saying “why do you persecute me?!” In the aftermath, Saul is blinded and refuses to eat or drink. His traveling companions lead him onward to Damascus.

Meanwhile in Damascus, a disciple of The Way named Ananias has received his own vision telling him to welcome Saul and restore his sight. Ananias knows who Saul is and objects, but Jesus insists, “He is the chosen vessel for me, to carry my name before nations and kings – and the children of Israel too” (Acts 9:15). Ananias finds Saul, lays his hands on him, and at once “something like scales” fall from his eyes, his sight is restored, and he is baptized. Saul immediately begins to evangelize in the local synagogues, and everyone is astonished to see the famous persecutor of apostles proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. His impact in Damascus is such that the Jews there want him dead, and the local followers must help him escape and return to Jerusalem. When he shows up at The Way headquarters, the apostles are stunned and frightened, but they listen to his story and eventually welcome him enthusiastically.

In Acts 10, we cut briefly back to Peter, who is taking a nap on the roof when he has a really weird dream. He sees a great sheet of cloth, like a ship’s sail, filled with every kind of animal and bird, and a voice says, “Get up, Peter! Kill and eat! What God has made clean you must not regard as common!” The dream repeats twice, and as Peter puzzles over its meaning, he receives an invitation to the home of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius. Cornelius is a “devout man,” a “godfearer,” a Gentile who has come to worship the God of the Jews. It seems he had a vision of his own which urged him to meet Peter. Peter puts it all together: “God doesn’t show favoritism! In every race, people who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35) This is a wonderful moment for peace and brotherhood, but it puts Peter in hot water. He’s not supposed to be associating with a Roman, much less baptizing one. He tells the other apostles about his dream, and they make it official: the good news about the Messiah is for everyone, not just Jews.

A note in Chapter 11 says that at this time in the city of Antioch, when Peter and Barnabas and Saul begin preaching the gospel to Gentiles, the members of The Way are first referred to as “Christians.” But in this context, it doesn’t mean, as it does today, adherents to a religion called Christianity. It literally means “Little Messiahs,” or “Messiah People.” Meanwhile, Saul may not be persecuting Christians anymore, but in Chapter 12 King Herod picks up the slack. He assassinates James, the brother of the apostle John, and imprisons Peter. Peter escapes with the help of an “angel,” and verse 23 tells us that Herod is “eaten by worms” and dies. In that order.

In Chapter 13 Paul and Barnabas set out on one of many “missionary journeys,” this one to the island of Cyprus in the middle of the Mediterranean. And, by the way, another note about names: From now on the text will refer to “Saul” as “Paul,” and the traditional reading indicates that God changed his name at his conversion. However, there’s nothing in the text about a name change, and it’s probably just a practicality. Among Jews, his name is the Hebrew Saul, and as a missionary throughout the Greek-speaking world he is known as Paul. Two versions of the same name.

In Cyprus the apostles clash with another local magician. In Pisidian Antioch (not to be confused with Antioch Classic back in Syria), their message is met with violent resistance and they move on to Iconium, and then to Lystra, where they are mistaken for Zeus and Hermes, and then to Derbe. In each city they preach and heal and are ultimately driven out by offended Jews. Their first journey completed, they regroup with the other apostles back in Syrian Antioch, where a major rift has divided the community.

In Chapter 15, we learn that some of the Jewish disciples are insisting that Gentile converts (of whom there are now many) must be circumcised in accordance with Jewish Law in order to become Christians. Peter pleads for sanity, reminding them of his vision and the open invitation God had given to the all people. James, the head of the apostles (and traditionally the brother of Jesus), makes an official decision: Non-Jews will NOT be required to be circumcised. This is excellent news for adult male converts, and a letter detailing the decision is sent to all the Christian communities, a.k.a. “churches.”

Meanwhile Paul and Barnabas split up over creative differences and Paul chooses a new missionary partner, a fellow named Silas. In Chapter 16 Paul takes a journey, revisiting some of the cities from his first tour, and he meets a young disciple named Timothy, whose name will be very important later in our discussion of the New Testament. Paul immediately has Timothy circumcised, which is kinda weird considering what we just read in the previous chapter, and what we’ll hear from Paul about circumcision in his letters later on. Paul’s tour continues, and he founds church communities in some places that sound familiar to readers of the New Testament, like Philippi and Thessalonica.

Another quick technical side note: Around this point, Chapter 16, we notice a strange phenomenon in the text of Acts. In certain passages, usually about missionary voyages, the third person perspective of the book shifts and the narrative is suddenly told in the first person. For example, 16:8 says “So, passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.” But verse 10 says, “…at once we set about finding a way to get across to Macedonia.” Then a few verses later, we shift back to “they” again. The traditional reading of the book says that these are indication of Luke’s personal recollection of certain journeys, but there’s certainly nothing in the text to indicate this, and the rather abrasive way the pronouns shift may actually be evidence of some rather sloppy editing. Since we don’t have an explicit authorial claim on this book anyway, it’s not terribly controversial.

In Acts Chapter 17 their anti-fanclub catches up with Paul and Silas, and they must flee southward to Athens. Here paul has a unique opportunity (some text critics would say a suspiciously opportune opportunity) to address the greatest minds of Greek philosophy in the Areopagus. What Paul says before this audience is remarkable. He congratulates them for being “extremely religious,” and tells that that in worshiping their Greek gods and idols they have actually been worshiping the creator God of Judaism unawares. He says that God has permitted them to do so until now, when Jesus has provided a more explicit way of knowing who and what God is. This is quite different from what the Paul of the epistles will say about Greeks and their religion in a book like Romans, for example, where he condemns pagans for their perverted passions and says that God’s wrath is poured out against them. This is either a case of the apostle changing his tone to appeal to his audience, or of an author writing a scene the way he believes it should play out.

(Ten chapters left in the Book of Acts, this might be a good time for a snack break!)

Paul moves on to the city of Corinth in Chapter 18, where he’ll found one of his most famous churches. But after a major falling out with Silas and Timothy, Paul announces that he will exclusively evangelize Gentiles from now on. After spending a year in Corinth among the Greeks, Paul sails back to Syria with new traveling companions, a married team named Priscilla and Aquila. On the way they stop in Ephesus – home to another famous Pauline church – where a curious thing happens: a Jewish convert, a self-styled evangelist named Apollos shows up and starts preaching in the same synagogues as Priscilla and Aquila. The apostles welcome him into their fellowship after giving him a few pointers. This is fascinating, not least because it reveals the splintered and somewhat ramshackle nature of the early Jesus movement. In addition to the mainstream apostolic evangelists of The Way, there are amateur preachers like Apollos, a Jesus follower who admits that he has never even heard of a “holy spirit.” It’s just interesting, is alls I’m saying.

Another odd occurrence at Ephesus: as Paul’s ministry becomes more and more popular, people start to exploit it, selling handkerchiefs that he has touched and invoking his name in their own spiritual practices. A group of exorcists attempt to cast out an “evil spirit” in the name of “Paul’s Jesus,” and the spirit answers back, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you??” Paul makes a decision to return to Jerusalem and plan his next journey, this time to Rome. The big leagues. (Spoiler alert, he’ll make it to Rome alright, but not the way he expects.) In Chapters 20 and 21, Paul travels back in the direction of Jerusalem, but disciples and prophets along the way warn him not to set foot in the capital or he will be arrested. Paul’s response is “I am quite prepared not only to be tied up but to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul’s slow and fateful march toward Jerusalem is another blatant gospel echo.

Paul does enter the capital, where James and the apostles welcome him, but warn him that he is hated among the devout Jews, who believe him to be a blasphemer and hater of Torah. Soon thereafter Paul is spotted in the Temple by his enemies, who drag him outside and beat him – until the Roman authorities break up the crowd and take the apostle into custody. All the while the Judaean crowd chants “Kill him! Kill him!” Paul uses his Greek language skills and Roman citizenship to demand the right to defend himself to the crowd. In Chapter 22, Paul tells the story of his conversion from a zealous Pharisee and persecutor of The Way to a bold Christian evangelist (with a few slight changes in the details). His story only seems to make the crowd more angry, and Paul is hauled away by the Romans, flogged, and imprisoned.

The next day Paul is brought before the assembly of Jewish elders, the Sanhedrin, and given another chance to explain himself. He uses his deep knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures to incite a debate between the Sadducees and Pharisees, two factions within the assembly. The argument turns into a riot, and the interrogation goes nowhere. Later, some of the same Judaean authorities devise a plot to murder Paul, but he discovers it and informs his Roman overlords. The tribune decrees that Paul should be protected and sent up north to Caesarea for a proper Roman trial with the governor Felix.

In Chapter 25, after a TWO-YEAR-DELAY and a chaotic trial in Caesarea, Paul is finally granted an appeal at the highest level – he will get his voyage to Rome after all. However, before he can go, King Agrippa of Judaea demands to hear Paul’s testimony, which he gladly offers up and which features one last retelling of Paul’s conversion story, this time with an oddly specific new speech on the lips of Jesus. Agrippa and Festus, the procurator of the region, declare Paul to be mad, but innocent of any crime. Says Agrippa, “this man could have been set free, had he not appealed to Caesar!” And I believe the Greek text here literally translates “facepalm.”

Chapter 27 (only two to go!), and Paul sets sail for Rome under the care of a sympathetic centurion named Julius. After a long and treacherous voyage, a violent storm overtakes their boat and the Roman crew become very anxious. In a curiously framed passage, Paul calms the men by “breaking bread” and eating with them, and they all “cheer up.” (I confess that I’ve never noticed this gospel echo before!) Everybody’s feeling great, until the ship runs aground on the island of Malta. In the final chapter, Paul and his Roman handlers encounter some friendly Maltans who help them build a fire. As Paul is gathering wood, a serpent bites his hand and the locals shriek, “this man must be a murderer!” Paul simply shakes off the snake and the Maltans reconsider: “he must be a god!!” This has a weird resonance with the tacked-on extra ending to the gospel of Mark, which predicts just this sort of phenomenon. This might raise all sorts of interesting questions, but for the fact that we’re all very tired and the end of this book is now in sight.

Finally, finally, finally, Paul and his entourage make it to Rome, where Paul has the opportunity to address the Jewish leadership there. He begins to defend himself, but they tell him, “we haven’t heard anything bad about you personally, but this Christian movement of yours is not very popular in Rome!” (Pause for irony.) The scroll ends with Paul quoting the prophet Isaiah to the Roman Jews:

26 “Go to this people and say to them:
Listen and listen, but never hear;
Look and look, but never see!
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
And their ears are dim with hearing,
And they have closed their eyes –
So that they might not see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And turn, and I would heal them.”

And Paul adds this comment:

28 “Let it be known to you that this salvation from God has been sent to the Gentiles. They will listen.”

The book that opened with Peter telling his fellow Jews “you’ve missed the Messiah train,” ends with Paul telling them, “If you won’t listen, the Gentiles will!” The author of Acts, it seems, intended this to be the story of how the gospel of Jesus went from Jewish innovation to global phenomenon. Of course, it won’t be truly “global” until a few centuries later when it becomes the official religion of the Empire, but to the author of Acts this is how the seeds were sown by the apostles, and how they dutifully and technically fulfilled Jesus’ command to take his legacy “to all the nations.” And, just as Luke’s gospel was an attempt to go “on record” with Theophilus concerning Jesus’ legitimacy and innocence, Acts appears to be an attempt to do the same for the early church.

We’re running kinda long today, but a few more observations before we call it quits. First, we have to talk about what’s missing from the end of this book – there’s no closure! Most of the second half of the book is about Paul’s slow trip toward Jerusalem and his even slower journey toward Rome, and then it just ends! We never read about his trial before Caesar or (historical spoiler alert) his execution by beheading. Is something missing from our manuscripts of this text? Maybe, but probably not. It has been compellingly suggested that Paul’s martyrdom is omitted out of reverence for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Given all of the gospel echoes in this text, the author wouldn’t want to go too far by juxtaposing Paul’s death with that of the Master.

Finally today, what about us? How should we read this book? Many Christians today look to Acts as a sort of instruction manual for spreading the gospel. That’s fine, as long as we remember that we’re reading an ancient text that doesn’t share our modern assumptions, and that words like “gospel,” “salvation,” “Lord” and even “church” had very specific meanings in the First Century world of Second-Temple Judaism and the Roman Empire. Acts isn’t really an instruction book for future Christians, it’s one author’s narration of the unbelievable events that occurred after Jesus left – how his message of repentance, salvation, and the kingdom of God was lived, disseminated and popularized. The apostles proclaimed that the risen Jesus was still alive, and Acts is one community’s testimony to that new reality. And whether this is a factual news report or a persuasive interpretation of events remembered, our connection to Acts is this: that these many generations after, we’re still talking about the prophet from Galilee.

This has been BOOK, a bible podcast for everybody, and I have been Josh Way. If you enjoyed this podcast I encourage you to share it with your online friends and family. If you have any comments, questions or constructive feedback, email me at book@joshway.com. You can also leave a voicemail at 801-760-3013, and I’ll try to respond on the podcast. Read the BOOK blog and find lots more content at BOOK.JOSHWAY.COM. That’s it for me, bible pals. I’ll catch you next time.

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