Thursday, May 24, 2012

Introduction to Acts

     Tomorrow (May 25) we continue our journey through the New Testament by reading the book of Acts. Formally known as "The Acts of the Apostles" is is probably better titled "Some Acts by Some Apostles." Below is the introduction I wrote for Acts for my Ugandan friends:

     Acts is a record of the birth and expansion of the early Christian church. It shows the expansion of the church following the trajectory Jesus gives in Acts 1:8:  Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. It also follows the expansion of the movement from a renegade sect within Judaism to an expanding gentile mission. While non-Jews hear the Gospel preached by Jesus (the Centurion, the Syrophoencian woman, the Samaritan Woman, and others) the fledgling Church intentionally reaches out to the Gentiles for the first time with the Gospel in Acts 10. The inclusion of the Gentiles in the Christian movement requires a council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) whose decision opens the Christian fellowship to all people. The principle person in Acts is the Apostle Saul/Paul who is introduced in Chapter 8. The majority of the remainder of the book of Acts follows Paul’s missionary journeys and concludes with Paul under house arrest in Rome, awaiting an audience with Caesar. Acts was written as a continuation of the Gospel according to Luke and was written at about the same time (late 60’s to AD 90) by the same hand, generally believed to be Luke the beloved physician.     
     The growth and development of the Christian movement is seen against the background of antagonism and opposition from multiple sources. It is opposed by the government, it is opposed by the pagan religious leaders (and those who profit from the existing religious system,) and it is opposed by traditionalist Jewish leaders. Nonetheless, the gospel travels from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

I'll post something about chapter 1 in the morning.

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