Monthly Archives: July 2013

Acts of the Apostles 3.1-10

At this point in Luke’s account Peter has just finished his speech to his fellow Jews attempting to persuade them that the Galileans they see are not drunk, but are filled with the Holy Spirit as was prophesied by the prophet Joel. As a result about 3,000 of those who heard him recognized Jesus as the Messiah and joined the Christian community.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4 But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

While the events of this passage are fairly straightforward I do want to point out a couple of things about it. First, the word “now” at the beginning of verse 1. When an attempt is made to chronologically layout the events of a Biblical book, or books (e.g. the Gospels), one of the criteria used to determine where a particular event falls chronologically is if any progression of time is given from the previous event. So if an account has an event A and then event B follows A in the account and begins with something like “following this” we know that chronologically event B follows event A. However, if an account has an event C and then event D follows event C in the account, but begins with something like “now” it gives us no indication as to where event D falls chronologically in the account; even though it follows event C in the account it may well have occurred before event C chronologically. So if we were to attempt a chronology of the events of the Acts of the Apostles it would begin with the events of chapter 1, and following that would be chapter 2, but when we came to chapter 3 we would put it off to the side until we had gone through the rest of the events and determined as much chronologically as we could from them before attempting to insert these events into the chronology.

This leads me to an important point regarding Bible study: the order of events as related in a narrative is not necessarily indicative of their chronology. The authors of Scripture were not primarily concerned with recording an exact succession of events as a biography or history might, but rather were using the events to make point; they were concerned with showing what the events meant, not recording the exact order of the events. So when we read a Biblical book we should be linking the different events through what they reveal: about the people they are describing, and also about God. The Scriptures tell a story and it is grasping and understanding this story and our place in it that is the goal of Bible study, not the organizing and memorizing of facts and events. This is why, I think, the authors of Scripture composed their accounts they way they did, because they were concerned with showing people how they should live as a result of these events. If their primary concern were to have the people simply know events a chronological account would have sufficed, but I do not believe this to have been their primary concern.

Second, a man who had previously been unable to walk was made to walk. The lame walking was prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 35.6a) as one of the events that was to occur during Israel’s restoration under Messiah. Jesus has already been identified by Peter as the Messiah (see ch. 2), and here we see Jesus identify himself as Messiah by healing a lame man through Peter. This is now the second indication to Israel that the kingdom they are expecting to be inaugurated by the Messiah has come and is present among them.

Also, note where this event took place: in the temple. This is important because it identifies for us that the audience of Peter’s next speech is primarily, or entirely, Jewish. And we will look at Peter’s speech in the next post.

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Salvation, Baptism, and the Church

In the previous post the passage of Acts that we were looking at ended with this sentence:

And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Salvation is the most important aspect of the Christian life. In fact it is what the Christian life is all about. Yet in my Evangelical Protestant upbringing I noticed that it was also one of the least understood aspects of the Christian life and one of the least appreciated. This was quite alarming to me, especially since our salvation was the reason that Christ came to earth. As the Nicene Creed says:

We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ…who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven…

At least part of the lack of understanding concerning salvation I believe can be attributed to two factors: 1)The Western proclivity for concrete definitions, and 2)The fact that salvation is, in the end, a mystery and a personal experience between an individual and God. In an effort to define salvation the West has articulated various and conflicting positions on salvation. In my native Evangelical Protestantism the end result of these varying positions has been not only divisions, but also seems to have led to salvation being primarily associated with getting into heaven. Thus to the Evangelical Protestant mind salvation is associated primarily with a completed past action: the moment they “accepted Christ,” became indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit, and were assured entrance into heaven upon death.* The downside to this association is that it can easily minimize, or even completely remove, the necessity and importance of following the commands of Christ and seeking to live more like him everyday.

Now to be fair Evangelical Protestants certainly agree that one must follow the commands of Christ, and if they aren’t then they have either abandoned their faith or were never really a Christian in the first place. However this is not called salvation in Evangelical Protestantism, but rather sanctification (becoming more like Christ). And while, technically speaking, sanctification may be included in the salvation process, dividing the process into different parts and defining different terms for each of the parts puts one at a significant disadvantage when reading Scripture because there does not seem to be such a distinction in terms made in Scripture. It is simply a form of “save” and could refer to the getting into heaven aspect, the sanctification aspect, the future glorification aspect (not discussed here), or could refer to someone being in physical danger, such as drowning, and in need of rescue.

Salvation is a personal experience between an individual and God and thus does not readily lend itself to definitions precisely because it involves multiple personal beings (i.e. a human and God). It also does not seem to be clearly defined and articulated in Scripture or in Christian tradition. It does involve coming to a recognition that Jesus is God and reconciled us to the Father through his crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection; and following Christ’s commands and becoming more like him; and being glorified in the future. Thus I propose that when we think of salvation, or being saved, we do not think of “accepting Christ” and being guaranteed a ticket to heaven when we die, but rather the following:

The process of being restored to our original, perfect state of being from our current evil and depraved state of being.

For an adult this process begins first with the recognition that Jesus is God and reconciled us to the Father, from whom we were separated at the Fall, through his crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. Then as soon as possible baptism should follow. This is the pattern that we have seen so far in the Act of the Apostles. First the “men of Judea” recognized who Jesus was, then they were baptized.

Baptism, I think, is best viewed as the initiation rite into the Church, regardless of what one believes happens during baptism. As such I do not have an issue with baptizing infants since I do not see any good reason why a child of Christian parents should not be initiated into the Church. In fact, for a child of Christian parents, salvation begins as soon as they are born and thus they should be initiated into the community that will guide them through the salvation process. Later on these children who were baptized do make their own decision concerning Christ as they learn for themselves who he is and what he has done.

Baptism will be featured multiple times as we continue through the Acts of the Apostles and is certainly an important part of the Christian life. If someone claims to be a Christian they should have either already been baptized, or be waiting to be baptized. I do not believe anything else to be acceptable for someone claiming to be a Christian.

The Church, what the baptized are initiated into, is in general terms the worldwide body of people who have been baptized and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (called “believers” in Christian circles). The Church is such an essential part of salvation that Jesus himself personally trained and appointed those who would lead it during its initial phases. These were the Apostles, whose acts, words, and deeds we are currently reading about. And not only were Apostles appointed, but the Holy Spirit was, and still is, given to all who are members of the Church in order to guide the Church and protect it. The Church is not a man-made institution, but a divinely appointed institution whose main purpose is to guide people along the way of salvation and help them avoid the snares the devil has laid with the purpose of leading people off the path of salvation.

Summary

In order to be restored to their perfect, original state of being from their evil and depraved state of being a person must be initiated into the worldwide community of believers by being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit. Then they should learn from others in the community of believers so that they will be able to discern where God is leading them and avoid the snares the devil has laid for them.

Next up will be chapter 3.

* Protestantism disagrees as to whether or not one can lose their “salvation,” i.e. their admittance into heaven.

Acts of the Apostles 2.37-47

Peter has now finished his speech defending the Galileans who were accused of being drunk (see 2.14-36) and in this passage we see the response of the people to Peter’s speech.

Book of Acts37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Before moving forward in this passage it is helpful to remember the identity of “they” in v.37. “They” refers to Peter’s audience who just heard his speech, which is specifically identified for us in v.14 as “men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem.” So then the crowd Peter was addressing was most likely predominantly, if not entirely, Jewish. Knowing this identity helps us understand their actions in the following verses and why Peter said what he said in vv.14-36.

The Jews had expectations (and still do) for the coming of the Messiah and the inauguration of a kingdom as prophesied in the Old Testament. Peter’s speech was aimed at convincing them that Jesus was the Messiah that they had been expecting. After hearing Peter’s argument they were “pierced to the heart” when they realized that they had crucified the Messiah they were expecting, so they ask the Apostles what it is they should do, and Peter tells them to repent and be baptized.

In the context of this passage what the Jews are repenting of is their lack of belief in Jesus’ Messianic identity. Up until this point they had rejected Jesus’ identity and even crucified him. So Peter calls them not only to cease rejecting Jesus as Messiah, but to accept Jesus as Messiah and join the 120 or so others who at this point comprise the Church by being baptized.

While Christendom disagrees over what happens during baptism, it does agree that it is an essential part of the Christian life. It was commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28.19, and is commanded here by Peter. V.41 indicates that baptism is one’s entrance into the Church, or the worldwide community of Christians, and that baptism should follow coming to some level of belief concerning Jesus. In this particular episode it seems to me the level of belief achieved was acceptance of Jesus being the prophesied Messiah. Today most churches expect you to understand not only Jesus’ identity, but the foundations and basics of the Christian faith. These are best summarized, I think, in the Nicene Creed.

43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

These verses describe the early community of believers and what was happening amongst them. I believe these verses to be fairly straight forward and not requiring much explanation. However I do want to emphasize a few things. First, they were devoting themselves to the Apostle’s teaching (v.42). They recognized that the Apostles had been chosen by Jesus and tasked with instructing others in what Jesus had taught them. We should imitate their humble attitude when we devote ourselves to the teachings of the Apostles (i.e. read the New Testament). Not only does Christianity claim to be historical, but it also claims to be revealed. The Apostles did not teach their own ideas, but rather taught what had been revealed to them by Jesus, and so to challenge the teachings of the Apostles is to challenge the teachings of God.

Secondly, they were devoting themselves to prayer (v.42). Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life and must be practiced throughout the day. Our prayers should be focused on things that will be spiritually beneficial for us, not things like new boats and cars. Written prayers are a great way to learn to pray for things that are spiritually beneficial. See the post on Acts 1.12-14 for more on this topic.

Thirdly, they were devoting themselves to fellowship and eating together (vv.42, 44-47). These verses are fairly self explanatory as to what this fellowship entailed, so I won’t expand much upon it. I do want to emphasize though that the Christian life is lived in community and this includes helping others in need (vv.44-45) and worshiping together (vv.46-47). The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation, it must be lived within a community of believers.

For the next post I’m going to explain more about salvation, baptism, and what it means to have joined the Church. It really does deserve its own post and I think it is important to understand.

Acts of the Apostles 2.22-36

Book of ActsIn these verses we have the last half of Peter’s response to the people who accused the Galileans of being drunk. In the first part Peter said that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of the signs that the prophet Joel said would occur when Messiah comes. In this part we see Peter arguing that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 

Peter begins his argument by recounting the pubic nature of Jesus’ earthly ministry, which was known to everyone (see v. 22 “as you yourselves know”). Jesus’ ministry was not a private affair between him and 12 other men, but was instead a public affair. Jesus was out amongst the people teaching and performing signs and wonders. Even Jesus himself says this in John 18.20, “Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.” Christianity doesn’t claim to be based on a private revelation given to one person or a select group of people, but rather claims that its founder taught and worked miracles in public.

The only way Peter could say, “as you yourselves know” and for his words to be taken seriously so that we have them not only preserved, but also believed 2000 years from when they were spoken, is if what he is claiming is true. Otherwise, if his words were false, they would not have been taken seriously and his words not believed nor preserved; he would have been laughed at and dismissed by his audience.

In vv. 23 Peter reminds his audience that Jesus was put to death publically by crucifixion and that they witnessed this event. Then in v. 24 Peter makes the claim that Jesus was raised from the dead, which he then moves on to support in vv. 25-32.

25 For David says of Him,

‘I saw the Lord always in my presence;
For He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.
26 ‘Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted;
Moreover my flesh also will live in hope;
27 Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
28 ‘You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’

29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 

Peter quotes a passage from Psalm 16.8-11 and then proceeds to explain how these verses cannot refer to King David himself since David died, was buried, and his tomb is (or was during Peter’s time at least) still with them (v. 29). David thus did go to Hades (i.e. the place of the dead, everyone goes there regardless) and his body did suffer corruption. This is in contrast to what Peter claims about Jesus. According to Peter Jesus was raised from the dead (v. 24) and is thus not in Hades nor is his body decaying and suffering corruption. Peter is saying that David was predicting the resurrection of the Messiah in these verses, and that since Jesus was resurrected he fulfilled this prophecy and that all the Galileans, those who are accused of being drunk, have witnessed Jesus’ resurrection as well (vv. 30-32).

33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’

Peter continues by saying that not only has Jesus risen from the dead, but is seated at the right hand of God (representing supreme power and authority). He supports this assertion by citing Psalm 110.1, a passage which was believed to be describing the Messiah (Matthew 22.41-46; Mark 12.35-37; Luke 20.41-44).

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter’s conclusion can be summarized this way: “Based on everything  that I have just said, that what you hear with the people speaking in your native tongues is the fulfillment of the signs the prophet Joel said would accompany the coming of the Messiah, and that it was predicted that the Messiah would be raised from the dead and would ascend into heaven, and that these Galileans have witnessed these events, know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the Messiah that you have been waiting for.”

Next week we encounter the response of the people to Peter’s speech.

Acts of the Apostles 2.14-21

Here’s a recap before we get started:

 1.1-11 – IntroductionThis book is a continuation of the author’s previous account, the Gospel of Luke. The author informs us that this account will deal with the coming of the Holy Spirit, which was promised by Jesus during his Earthly ministry.
1.12-26 – Replacement of Judas: When the Apostles were praying after having returned to Jerusalem following Jesus’ ascension it is revealed to Peter that someone should be selected to occupy Judas’ apostleship since it is now vacant following Judas’ suicide. Matthias is selected to occupy the vacant office.
2.1-13 – The Coming of the Holy Spirit: During the Jewish festival of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and rested on each one of “them” (probably referring to the group of people that were gathered to pray together in 1.12-14) and they were speaking in foreign languages so that those who were also in Jerusalem struggled to explain to themselves how it was possible that they were hearing people from Galilee speaking in their own native languages, since the Galileans most likely did not know the languages in which they were speaking.

Acts of the Apostles 2.14-21

Book of ActsIn the previous section we saw some of the Jews who had come to Jerusalem from foreign lands explain to themselves the phenomenon of the Galileans speaking in the languages native to those foreign lands by saying that they were drunk, or “full of sweet wine.” In this next section we have Peter’s response to those who alleged that the Galileans were drunk.  Just to be sure, the women who were gathered with the Apostles to pray in 1.14 are also included in the group referred to as “Galileans.”

14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
19 ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
20 ‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
21 ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Interestingly, Peter is said to “take his stand with the eleven,” referring to the eleven Apostles. However we have already seen Judas’ vacant office be occupied by Matthias in 1.12-26. The text seems to indicate a clear progression of events up to this point, meaning that the events happened in the order in which the text places them, so there should be twelve Apostles at this point in the account. The most likely explanation to me seems to be to take the phrase to mean Peter in addition to the eleven Apostles.*

The third hour of the day referred to in v. 15 is 9 a.m., so it is highly unlikely that they would be drunk so early in the day. Instead Peter says that what is happening is what the prophet Joel said would happen and quotes from Joel 2.28-32. Unlike in chapter 1, this passage that Peter quotes is actually predictive of something, that something being the coming of the Holy Spirit. The passage that Peter has quoted here lists several signs that will accompany the coming of the Holy Spirit:

  • The Spirit will be bestowed upon men and women, slaves and free. In short there will be no distinctions made when the Spirit is bestowed; it can be bestowed upon anyone. And everyone who receives the Spirit will see visions, dream revelatory dreams, and prophesy.
  • There will be wonders in the sky above and on the earth below including: “blood, fire, and vapor of smoke;” a darkened sun; and a moon of blood.
  • Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

The immediate accompanying sign that Peter likely has in mind is prophesying, since in v. 11 it says, “…we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” The second accompanying sign Peter likely has in mind is the darkened sun and moon of blood. The Gospels record that during Jesus’ crucifixion the sky was darkened from about the sixth hour (noon) to the ninth hour (3 p.m.), and Luke adds the detail, “because the sun was obscured” (Matthew 27.45; Mark 15.33; Luke 23.44-45). What is likely being described here is a lunar eclipse since it can last for several hours and turns the moon a reddish color, giving it the appearance of blood.

Peter interpreted Joel’s prophecy to be referring to the kingdom of Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, which is why he changed the words “After this” to “In the last days.” To a Jew the “last days” refers to the coming of Messiah when he will restore Israel politically and reign forever. This is the first stage of Peter’s argument that the promised Messiah has come since the sun was darkened and the moon appeared red like blood, the Spirit was bestowed, and men and women are prophesying.

The proper response of the Jewish people then is in the last line of Joel’s prophecy that Peter quotes, “Anyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” It is only by belonging to the kingdom of the Messiah that they will be saved, otherwise they will perish. Here saved seems to mean in the sense of delivered from punishment; e.g. spending eternity with God rather than separated from God.

So to summarize Peter’s speech so far: these people are not drunk, but this is the fulfillment of the signs that the prophet Joel said would occur in the last days when Messiah comes, and you all should recognize this and join us and receive the Spirit as well.

In my opinion Peter could have stopped here and would have made his point quite clearly. Peter however continues his speech, and we will continue also, but in the next post.

* The other possibility I can think of is that there was some distinction made between Matthias being an Apostle and the remaining eleven Apostles that Jesus himself had chosen. My main problem with this explanation though is that 1.26 says that Matthias was added to the eleven Apostles, which seems to go against there being any such distinction made.

Acts of the Apostles 2.1-13

Book of ActsNow we finally come to the event that the opening verses of the book prepared us to expect: the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is a very significant event as it marks the beginning of the Church. Since there is so much to cover with this event I will be breaking this up into several posts.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of

Book of ActsMesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

First, the author provides for us the date on which the Holy Spirit was given: the day of Pentecost. This is a Jewish feast and it is dated 50 days from Passover. So, since Jesus was crucified on (or near) Passover*, rose 3 days later, and presented himself alive to the apostles over a period of 40 days following his resurrection before he ascended (see 1.3), we can conclude that approximately 10 days have passed since Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

It’s easy to skip over details like this, that seem to have no other purpose than to provide a date, but I would advise you not to do so. Such details are incredibly important. Details like this, and the genealogies (especially the ones in Matthew and Luke), tie Christianity to historical events, dates, and people. Christianity is based on historical events, such as the resurrection of Jesus, his ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit (all of which have been recounted to us by this point in the book). Christianity is not a philosophical system that someone produced in a vacuum. Christianity doesn’t hinge on a particular doctrine, but rather on the historical event of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Christianity is only false if these events did not happen.

As a side note, Mike Licona has some great resources (free and paid) to take advantage of if you are interested in investigating the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. His site is: RisenJesus.com.

It is this relation to actual historical events that sets Christianity apart from most, if not all, of the other major religions of the world. It is also this relation to historical events that I personally find to be the most persuasive aspect of Christianity. If there lived a man who claimed to be God, was killed, rose again, and ascended into heaven I have to explain those events somehow and come to a conclusion about them; I can’t merely dismiss them as fiction if they actually happened.

We can see an example of people trying to explain to themselves a supernatural phenomenon in this passage. When the Holy Spirit came there was a noise, and tongues of fire came and rested on the Apostles. When the noise was heard the people who were in Jerusalem, people from every nation under heaven,  gathered together and were perplexed because they heard men who were from Galilee speaking in their (the people in Jerusalem, i.e. not the Apostles) own language (for the languages see the list in vv. 8-11). We can see two different attitudes to the event: 1) some are perplexed and bewildered and seeking to understand how this could be possible; 2) others are dismissive of the event and mock the Apostles as simply being drunk. Neither group is doubting the event happened, but rather is trying to make sense of it.

So to recap this passage: when the Holy Spirit came there was a noise, the people of Jerusalem gathered together when they heard the noise and found the Apostles speaking in their (the people of Jerusalem, i.e. not the Apostles) own native languages. This perplexed them because they identified the Apostles as being from Galilee who likely did not learn the languages in which they were speaking. Pay attention to these events and remember the signs that accompanied the coming of the Holy Spirit, it will be important later.

That wraps up this post. Maybe finishing chapter 2 in the next post. And that’s a big maybe, there’s a lot to cover in the rest of the chapter.

*I’m not going to reconstruct a timeline here, but you can see the sequence of events by starting with Matthew 26.17; Mark 14.12; Luke 22.1; and/or John 13.1 and reading the rest of the account(s).