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Acts 1-18

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Acts 1-18

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  1. Acts 1-18 Intergenerational Seminary New Testament Session #1

  2. Basics of the New Testament (review)

  3. How did the NT come about? • Took a while • Early Christians were very “eschatological” • First form was letters (fit with eschatology): Pauline • I Thess, Gal, Philemon, Phil, I/II Corin, Romans • By the mid-60s the first generation had mostly died, so letters took on a more enduring tone (Deutero-Pauline) • II Thess: don’t focus too much on the Second Coming • Colossians/Ephesians: talks about “the Church” • I/II Timothy, Titus discuss bishops, priests, & deacons

  4. How did the NT come about? • Also the “Catholic/General Epistles” (directed to the worldwide church) • I/II Peter • James • Jude • I/II/III John

  5. How did the NT come about? • The Gospels • Mark (~70 CE): his readers were not Palestinian Jews of Jesus’ lifetime, but Gentiles who were unfamiliar with Jewish customs • Emphasis on suffering and the Cross may reflect Mark’s personal experience • Matthew/Luke (~20 years later): used “Q” • Fourth Gospel (~90-100 CE)

  6. How did the NT come about? • Other books • Acts • By the same author as Luke • One narrative, moving the story of Christianity beyond Jerusalem to Samaria and beyond

  7. Why those books in the NT? • Apostolic origin • Gospels attributed to apostles (Matthew, John) or “apostolic men” (Mark, Luke) • Letters supposedly written by Paul, Peter, James • Debates • Revelation almost didn’t make it in when Dionysius (250 CE) proved John didn’t write it • Hebrews only made it in when it was thought to have been written by Paul • Not always sufficient • Gospel of Peter rejected based on its theology

  8. Other criteria • Importance of the addressed Christian communities • Antioch in Syria: Matthew • Asia Minor and Greece: Pauline and Johannine writings • Rome: Romans • Conformity with the rule of faith • Gospel of Peter rejected because of its Docetism

  9. Evolving NT canon • Pauline letters • 100 CE: 10 letters (not Pastorals or Hebrews) • 200 CE: 13 letters (not Hebrews) • 300 CE: 14 letters • Gospels • Likely each early community only knew of one of the gospels • No record before 150 CE of more than one gospel being read in any specific church • By late 4th century there was widespread acceptance of the 27 books

  10. Chronology of Paul’s letters 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians Philippians Philemon 1 & 2 Corinthians Romans Ephesians Mark Matthew/Luke-Acts John 50 60 70 80 90 100 1/2 Timothy Titus Galatians Colossians

  11. Luke-Acts • Originally one book • Luke: addressed to Theophilus (1:1-4) • Acts: “In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about al that Jesus did and taught.” (1:1) • Two main characters • Peter (chapters 1-12) • Paul (chapters 13-28)

  12. Language: Disciples and Apostles • In general, an apostle (from the Greek word for “messenger”) is a person who received a mission directly from God or Jesus • The twelve Jesus chose • Saul/Paul • Some inferior disciples who, under the direction of the Apostles, preached the Gospel, or contributed to its diffusion • Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14) • Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7) • Epaphroditus (Phil., ii, 25) • Two unknown Christians who were delegated for the collection in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:23) • A disciple (from the Latin word for “pupil”) is any follower of Jesus.

  13. Beginning of Acts of the Apostles • Chapter 1 • Jesus appears for 40 days, then ascends to heaven • Matthias chosen to replace Judas • Chapter 2: Pentecost • Jewish feast celebrated 50 days after Passover • Commemorates giving of the Law at Sinai (when Israel was called to be God’s own people) • Peter summarizes the Gospel to the amazed onlookers • “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.” (2:38)

  14. Peter and John preach the gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem • Chapter 3 • Peter heals a cripple and preaches in Solomon’s portico • Chapters 4-5 • Peter and John brought before the Council • “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (4:7) • The Council orders Peter and John “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” • Peter and John refuse, and are released • The apostles give thanks and share everything • Except Ananias and Sapphira, who died (5:1-11)

  15. Apostles continue to heal and preach • After healing many (including those who simply fell in Peter’s shadow), the apostles are jailed • An angel lets them out of prison, and they continue to preach • The Council wants to execute them, but Gamaliel (Paul’s teacher) says not to • If they preach a false gospel, it will fail • “But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” (5:39) • Apostles are flogged and released • Debate among Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) and Hebrews about equitable distribution of food • Seven leaders chosen

  16. Stephen, the first martyr • After preaching and doing “great wonders and signs,” Stephen is arrested on the false testimony of others in the synagogue • “We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed to us.” • High priest: “Are these things so?” • Stephen • Recounts salvation history from Abraham on down, noting how all the prophets had been persecuted (Joseph, Moses, etc.) • “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as you ancestors used to do.” • Stephen is stoned (7:54-60)

  17. First mention of Saul • Approved of Stephen’s execution and led a sustained persecution of the disciples, scattering all but the apostles • Philip went to Samaria, where many (including Simon the magician and the Ethiopian eunuch) believed and were baptized • Peter and John then went to Samaria and laid hands on the converts

  18. Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom)

  19. Conversion of Paul (Acts 9) • On the road to Damascus • “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” • “Who are you, Lord?” • “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” • The Lord brings Saul and Ananias together • Saul preaches the Gospel in the synagogues in Damascus, and then returns to Jerusalem • Attempts to join the disciples, but they fear him • Barnabas learns of a plot against Saul’s life, and so sends him to Tarsus

  20. Saul’s initial travels

  21. Peter’s continuing ministry • Heals Aeneas, bedridden for 8 years (9:32-35) • Raises Tabitha from the dead (9:36-43) • Begins ministry to the Gentiles • Vision on the roof (10:9-16) • Meeting Cornelius, the Roman centurion • “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (10:35) • Defends his ministry to the Church at Jerusalem (11:1-18)

  22. Antioch • Gospel had spread there after disciples dispersed following Stephen’s death • Church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas there to encourage them • Barnabas went to Tarsus to get Saul • Saul and Barnabas spent a year with the church in Antioch • Believers first called “Christians” there

  23. Herod (Acts 12) • This is Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great • Killed James, the brother of John, and imprisoned Peter • Peter released by an angel • Herod dies because he did not give glory to God

  24. Paul’s First Missionary Journey

  25. Paul’s First Journey

  26. Paul’s First Journey • Barnabas and Saul (Paul) commissioned by church in Antioch • Cyprus: confrontation with Bar-Jesus, a magician and false prophet • Bar-Jesus blinded • Proconsul (Sergius Paulus) converted • Pisidian Antioch • Many Jews converted • Explicit proclamation of mission to the Gentiles (13:47)

  27. Paul’s First Journey (cont’d): Galatia • Iconium • Unbelieving Jews stirred up dissent among Gentiles • Paul and Barnabas flee upon fear of stoning • Lystra and Derbe • Paul and Barnabas perform miracles, but the people think they’re Zeus and Hermes • Jews from Antioch and Iconium come and stir up dissent, and Paul is stoned • Return to Antioch

  28. Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) • Issue of Gentile Christians not resolved in Acts 11 • Back then it was a few Gentiles joining a large number of Jews • But here it’s the question of large, entirely Gentile churches • Peter and James agree to accept uncircumcised Gentiles • What argument is missing? • Some rules: abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from what is strangled; and from incestuous relationships • But what of Galatians 2?

  29. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

  30. Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey • Timothy joins Paul and Silas (who has replaced Barnabas), and is circumcised • Philippi: very dear to Paul’s heart • Conversion of Lydia • Paul and Silas thrown in prison, freed by earthquake, but don’t flee (so as to save the jailer and his family) • Thessalonica • Many converts, but Jews stirred up dissent • Even chased Paul and Silas to Beroea

  31. Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey (cont’d) • Athens, speaking on Mars Hill (Areopagus) • Acknowledges the people’s thirst for God • Quotes secular poets (Epimenides, Aratus) • Tells them Jesus is the answer they’ve always been looking for • Corinth • Origin of “tentmaker” • Came to focus exclusively on the Gentiles • Stayed there for 18 months • Wrote 1 Thessalonians

  32. To Read for Next Week • Review • Acts 15 (Council of Jerusalem) • Acts 18:16-32 (Paul in Athens) • 1 Thessalonians • Earliest writing in the New Testament • A Greek community (notice that Paul doesn’t refer to explicitly Jewish issues) • Galatians • Notice the difference in tone • Compare Galatians 2 with Acts 15