“In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles whom he had chosen (Acts 1:1)”
Happy New Year! I pray that your year has started with a focused direction for how and what your congregation would like to accomplish in 2023 through witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of the Bailey Institute Offerings, we begin our journey through the Acts of the Apostles. You may ask why we chose to blog about the Acts of the Apostles? If you remember, last fall, we blogged the gospel of John. We could have easily begun with a study of Luke-Acts. Instead of working through another synoptic gospel, we wanted to focus on a New Testament book that would challenge us to reflect deeply on the church and where we see ourselves as churches coming out of a Pandemic.
Some scholars speculate whether Luke is the writer of Acts. The argument that the same narrator must have written Acts depends largely on the claims that the gospel of Luke and Acts share “Common language, (2) consistent theology, and (3) an ignorance of a second-century corpus of Pauline letters.[i] In preparation to read Acts, you may want to spend some time reading the gospel of Luke.
Acts is the scriptural account of God’s redemptive promises, prophesied in scripture, being fulfilled. It catalogs the birth and beginnings of the church. Acts characterizes the coming of the Holy Spirit, idolatry, evangelism, mission, faith for new converts, and the economy of goods of a church that “holds all things in common.” Acts helps us to understand the relationship between the Jewish and Gentile nations, the restoration of Israel and the Jewish community in God’s plan of redemption, the salvation of the gentile community, and the resistance from some leaders in the Jewish community, as they held to their tradition and practices. The movement and progression of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome, where Paul ends his missionary pursuits, commands us to continue what Jesus began, to do and be his witnesses to the end of the earth. Because Acts helped to shape the identity of today’s church, it demands our attention, reflection, and response.
According to some scholarly interpretations, Acts can be read as history, literature, theology, and canon/scripture. While we note that history and literature are appropriate lenses for reading and interpreting scripture, for the purpose of our study, we will focus on reading Acts from a theological and scriptural framework. “Read as scripture, Acts provides an important element of a wider “canonical context”[ii] in which the faithful community gathers to reflect on those issues that either undermine or underscore God’s presence in today’s world.” We will submerge ourselves into the story in authentic ways, to help us to reflect on where the church is today. For example, reading this book, we wrestle with baptism, baptism of the Holy Spirit, the role of the Holy Spirit, acceptance of women in ministry, homosexuality, and inclusion.
There will be times when a quote from the sources will better explain the content and meaning of the text. There will be other times when we will summarize and interpret the meaning according to these sources, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all truth.
Feel free to follow along this journey to study with us, keep a journal, write reflections and questions, and share your feedback. We will be using the following sources: The People’s New Testament Commentary, and the New Interpreter’s Bible: Volume X.
Schedule of the “Acts of the Apostles” Blog
January 30 Acts Chapter One
February 6 Acts Chapter Two
February 13 Acts Chapter Three
February 20 Acts Chapter Four
March 6 Acts Chapter Five
March 13 Acts Chapter Six
March 20 Acts Chapter Seven
March 27 Acts Chapter Eight
April 3 Break
April 10 Break
April 17 Chapter Nine
April 24 Acts Chapter Ten
May 1 Acts Chapter Eleven
May 8 Acts Chapter Twelve
May 15 Acts Chapter Thirteen
May 22 Acts Chapter Fourteen
May 29 Break
June 5 Acts Chapter Fifteen
June 12 Acts Chapter Sixteen
June 19 Acts Chapter Seventeen
June 26 Acts Chapter Eighteen
July 3 Break
July 10 Acts Chapter Nineteen
July 17 Acts Chapter Twenty
July 24 Acts Chapter Twenty One
July 31 Break – General Assembly
August 7 Acts Chapter Twenty Two
August 14 Acts Chapter Twenty- Three
August 21 Acts Chapter Twenty-Four
August 28 Acts Chapter Twenty-five
September 4 Break – Holiday
September 11 Acts Chapter Twenty-Six
September 28 Acts Chapter Twenty-Seven
September 25 Acts Chapter Twenty-Eight
[i] The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume X, pg. 7
[ii] Ibid., pg. 28.