The Story of the Early Church (Acts 1-2)

This article is the first segment on the book of Acts, over the course of the coming months I will carefully summarize the events, teachings, and modern positions, on each of the major sections of each chapter. This Article focuses on Chapters 1-2, it addresses the day of Pentecost and Peter\’s first Sermon.

In this first section of Acts (1), we see that Luke is once again addressing this composition to Theophilius. Luke recounts Jesus\’ appearing to the disciples over the forty days after the resurrection, and telling them of the Holy Spirit\’s coming in the near future, the ascension of Jesus, and the choosing of Judas\’ replacement. At the ascension Jesus reminds the disciples that only God knows the times or seasons that He has predestined, Jesus also speaks of the power the apostles would receive and that they would be his witnesses to all the Earth and ascends to heaven upon a cloud. After His departure angels appear and impart that Jesus will return in the way He left (Acts 1:1-11). Of important note is the manner in which Jesus ascends and will return, riding on a cloud, this is a reinforcement of Christ being God which stems from the stories of God as a pillar of cloud from the Exodus (Exodus 13:21-22). When the disciples had returned and gathered together it was decided that there must be a replacement for Judas, who had betrayed Christ and killed himself using the money he had been paid for the betrayal (Mark 14:10-11, 43-50, Acts 1:18). The disciples gathered and prayed and Matthias was chosen to join the eleven apostles so that they would number 12 (Acts 1: 12-26).

The next section of Acts (2), is the turning point of the new testament, in terms of narrative. We are moving into the beginnings of the church, and seeing the first act of the apostles as a ministry. The Holy Spirit descends and rests upon them enabling them to speak to all people in their own language (Acts 2: 1-6), it worth mentioning that Charismatic theology can come across as underplaying the importance of this event by making it normative for the christian experience. Many were amazed at the event while others mocked accusing them of drunkenness (Acts 2: 7-13). This passage is distinct from other passages regarding the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues in that, this moment did not require a translator for the words being spoken were incomprehensible, scripture is very clear that the audience understood what was being said in their own native language (Acts 2:6).

Peter\’s response to the critics amongst the crowd, was to remind them of the words spoken by the prophet Joel, where God speaking through Joel revealed several signs of the last days (Acts 2: 14-21), following this reference Peter again quotes from the scriptures this time pulling from psalm 16 and reminding the crowd of David\’s prophecy of Christ\’s body being preserved in death until His resurrection (Acts 2: 22-35). Further Peter makes the claim that Jesus was Lord and Christ (Acts 2: 36), meaning that the act of becoming a child of God which is to be saved includes a surrender to Christ as Lord. Following this sermon many surrendered and accepted the gift of salvation and as the community grew in size they devoted themselves entirely to one another, giving everything they had up, and the sharing of the good news (Acts 2: 37-47), operating in the communal sense rather like the Essenes, who were an ascetic sect of jewish people at the time. 

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