Sisters,so sorry about the confusion this morning with the bible study post.We are on day 2 of the Pentecost study and here it is:)
Yesterday we spoke about who the author of Acts was and about some of his personality traits. We concluded that he was a brilliant man who loved Jesus and medicine. He was known as “the physician.” Today we will examine who his audience was, where he wrote Acts, and when.
The Acts of the Apostles was written for the same type of audience as the Gospel of Luke. It was written for Gentiles (anyone who is a non-Jew) who embraced Christianity. When we read Acts we unearth how Christianity spread from the Jewish sphere to the Gentile community. Surprisingly enough, many of the converts to Christianity were Gentiles, and not Jews! We read in later chapters of Acts that fear of Christianity on the part of the Jewish people caused them to be suspicious of Paul (a main proclaimer of the Gospel), so it was only natural that the Gentiles were preached to more. The Jewish people had a harder time accepting Paul’s message. The Gentiles were more willing to embrace this new faith. Even though Christianity comes from Judaism, it became its own faith while still cherishing many Jewish traditions. To add to this, both Judaism and Christianity view the Hebrew Scriptures as the inspired Word of God.
Furthermore, Acts seems to have been written around 80 AD (Anno Domini which is Latin for “Year of the Lord”). This would be about 50 years after the ascension of Jesus. (Side note about the Ascension: the difference between ascension and assumption is that at the ascension Jesus took himself up to Heaven. While at the assumption Mary was taken up, not by her own power since she is not divine, but by the power of God). It was written around the same time as the Gospel of Luke, not a big surprise considering they have the same author! In regards to where these books written there is some disagreement amongst bible scholars. Some say Antioch, while others say in southern Greece. The only thing that is definite is that they were written somewhere in the Greek-speaking world. The Acts of the Apostles originates in Jerusalem, the city in which the Gospel of Luke ends. As we walk through the book of Acts we see the message spreading to Judea, Samaria, and the Gentile world.
As I think about the start of Christianity in Jerusalem, a small secluded village, I think of the town in which I live now. It is inconspicuous, meek… and boring really. Nothing great stands out about it. It’s hot, sleepy, arid, homely, and unwelcome. Just the other day I was sitting high on a hilltop, and Jerusalem was what I envisioned below. I rummaged my mind wondering how such glory could come from simplicity. The wind was blowing, and the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. In the scorching desert heat He was showing me yet again how the extraordinary is always tucked away in the ordinary. From Jerusalem (our hometown), to Judea (our own culture), to Samaria (the nearby cultures), all the way to the ends of the earth (other countries and the world really), the message of Jesus was spread.
Reflection: In one of my favorite movie, Gladiator, Maximus says, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” Where is your Jerusalem (your city)? Which town is your Judea (the neighboring city/cities)? What is the county, the state, the country, the continent, etc….? All we do has a ripple effect on the people around us. Jesus and his twelve apostles knew this. There is no such thing as an isolated Christian with their “own” faith. Not only do we change the course of the lives that we are in direct contact with now, but we change the course of eternity. What a terrifyingly great honor to have. In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis writes, “It is a serious thing…to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship….All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe, and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” May you speak the Gospel to every soul you meet be it in words or actions. Shalom. Xoxo.