Peter & Kelly

on The Way

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Peter & Kelly + Lukas + Emmet + Danai

Going to Heaven: The concept of heaven in the Bible and Christian teaching
Research Paper (All Nations Christian College) 2 June 2004 — Peter Passchier

Is participation in Freemasonry wholesome for disciples of Jesus?
Advanced Religions Paper (All Nations Christian College) 7 May 2004 — Peter Passchier

Passages from Colossians and Hebrews compared
Assignment Christology (All Nations Christian College) 5 December 2003 — Peter Passchier

Is Israel's election related to any inherent qualities?
Assignment Old Testament Theology (All Nations Christian College) 28 November 2003 — Peter Passchier

The Gospel and the Religions
Reading Report Theology of Mission (All Nations Christian College) 11 November 2003 — Peter Passchier

Efforts towards unity within the church
Assignment Churchplanting (All Nations Christian College) 27 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Jesus: transactional or transformational?
Assignment Leadership (All Nations Christian College) 20 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Isaiah in crises
Assignment History and Literature of the Hebrew Bible (All Nations Christian College) 17 March 2003 — Peter Passchier

Do missionaries destroy cultures?
Assignment Social Anthropology (All Nations Christan College) 6 December 2002 — Peter Passchier

Temple Tumult
Assignment New Testament: Gospels and Acts (All Nations Christian College) 29 November 2002 — Peter Passchier

Acts
Initial Assignment (All Nations Christian College) 1 October 2002 — Peter Passchier

A Narrow Escape
A Narrow Escape (Creative writing) 13 September 2015 — Kelly Passchier



Initial Assignment (All Nations Christian College) 1 October 2002 — Peter Passchier

Acts

The spread of the gospel

The starting signal for the spread of the gospel in the book of Acts of the Apostles is actually given by the Lord Jesus Himself. After having discipled the chosen apostles during His years with them, and after having instructed them further about the kingdom of God, He proclaimed right before being taken up into heaven: "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth". The Apostles were told that they had to wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit in order to receive power. When this actually happened on the fiftieth day from Passover, the sound of the different tongues that the Spirit let them speak drew a large crowd, and the first authoritive speech of the Apostles was delivered by Peter. Thousands of Jews from all countries, having gathered for celebration and worship, became convinced that Jesus was the promised Anointed One and were baptized. Reaching the Jews in Jerusalem could be an apt description of this stage of the spread of the gospel. They gathered both in the temple and in homes, and there were many healings, also of unbelieving Jews, and there were also Hellenist Jews among the disciples.

Resistance from the Jews who refused to admit having been wrong in condemning Jesus forced the disciples to spread to Judea and Samaria, meeting a more Gentile resistance there by people having been involved in magical practices, this in addition to warnings against Jesus from the Jews in Jerusalem following them around. The accounts of Philip are characteristic of this stage: acceptance of God's word in Samaria, an Ethiopian eunuch worshiper baptised; people turning to Jesus who were living in areas where there was some degree of familiarity with the scriptures.

Then God carefully arranges for Peter to go to the God-fearing Italian centurion, and the Holy Spirit came on the large gathering, and it was decided they ought to be baptized as well, which was ratified and accepted a while later by the circumcised believers in Jerusalem. Right after that it says in Acts that the disciples were scattered as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and (Syrian) Antioch, where they spread the word about Jesus, in Antioch also to Greeks. When the Pharisee Saul was met by God and he accepted Jesus, Barnabas took care of him; they were called later in Antioch to specifically bring the word to the Gentiles, and were eventually led to Europe. They usually went to the synagogue first where the Jews and God-fearing people had biblical grounding, but often pronounced that they would go to the Gentiles after having met with opposition. When the Jews finally got hold of Paul in Jerusalem, the main —false— charge was that he preached disobedience to Moses to Israel. Earlier it had been resolved by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem that the yoke of the law of Moses should not be placed upon the Gentile disciples, and that they only needed to abstain from food offered to idols, strangled animals, blood and sexual immorality. At this stage Gentiles are receiving the word about Jesus, in the beginning close to Israel, later farther away.

First for the Jew, then for the Gentile

When the message Paul brings to the Israelites and worshipers of God at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch is contrasted with the way he speaks to the philosophically minded Greeks on the Areopagus in Athens, some remarkable differences and similarities can be noticed.

In the synagogue he addressed the descendants of Israel and God-fearing gentiles, and started on common ground, with orthodox declarations they could be expected to agree on, ranging from the election of the sons of Israel, the period in Egypt where they were blessed by God in multiplying tremendously, the miraculous events that preceded and accompanied the way they were led out by God to the desert, the grace God showed them in spite of their misconduct, and how He helped them to take Canaan into their possession, the judges He provided, kings Saul and then David He gave when the Israelites asked for it. All this is pointed to with God being the central acting person, and reminiscent of God's goodness to Israel. David, whom had been given great promises for his throne that were affirmed by the prophets later on, is intimately linked to the promise of the Anointed One of God, the expected Messiah who would rescue Israel. When introducing the name of Jesus, Paul prefaces it with a reference to the ministry of John, of whom they had undoubtedly heard in a favorable way. John rather explicitly points to Jesus as the one coming to baptize with fire, and testifies of himself that he is not the promised one, yet his message —repentance and baptism— is in concordance with and anteceding the work of Jesus.

Identifying Jesus as the promised Messiah was the key point of interest, both to the audience and to Paul's presentation of the good news. When Paul in first person plural remarked that "the message of salvation has been send to us", he hadn't even mentioned the resurrection of Jesus yet. He first went on to explain how Jesus wasn't recognized in Jerusalem and and how the subsequent condemnation and unrighteous death sentence by hanging on the cross precisely fulfilled the words of the prophets. And while scripture curses the one pinned on wood, God raised Him from the dead, implying righteousness with God, and in this case also for those believing, because the curse of humankind was carried away by Him. There's no great attempt to clarify this complicated mystery, at the point of the third explicit address of the public Paul just says that "through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed". The claim of the resurrection of Jesus is supported both from contemporary witness and from scripture, explaining how these were not fulfilled in David himself. The proclamation of a justification for believers greater than the law of Moses had been able to offer, a quite unbelievable sudden change in the state of being, is followed by a warning from Isaiah to precisely that effect.

In addressing the Areopagus, in the past the most important place of judgment for Athens —men of Athens-, now mostly relegated to moral, ethical, religious and philosophical matters, he is speaking to an audience of highly educated Greeks, living in the somewhat faded glory of the centre of ancient learning, where the classical philosophers had their schools. Also in this speech Paul started with a factual commendation: their exuberant religiousness, even willing to admit limits to their knowledge in order to be able to honour a yet unknown god. This opening allowed for an introduction of the God of Israel as the Creator of all, sovereign over heaven and earth, director of all human affairs starting from one man to all nations spread out over the earth and Whose offspring we all are, Who is a giving God. A thought-provoking paradox is used to reveal God's intent: He wants men to seek Him, yet He's not far away. In addition to that Paul proceeded to tear down some preconceived notions Gentiles might have been having about God, saying He is not in need of human service, not living in man-made temples, not at all manufactured by us. Judgment is then passed on ignorance —formerly overlooked— accompanied by the injection to repent and followed by the warning of judgment by Jesus, without even mentioning His name, but testifying of the way God affirmed this by raising Him from the dead.

The content of the speech in Athens is rendered much shorter in the bible than the one delivered in Pisidian Antioch, and the style of the latter is more zigzag, often in the same breath making a positive and negative assertion. Of the Hebrew scriptures it only uses the general, gentile part of Genesis (without explicitly mentioning the source in the rendered speech), where in the synagogue the focus is on the other part of scripture, pertaining to Abraham and Israel. In both accounts of the character of God He is presented as the central actor within history, and the writings that were known and revered by the respective audiences were used to affirm the message and disprove errant preconceptions. Both end with an admonition followed by a warning. The established framework that could be expanded on was entirely different for the two audiences, and exemplifies what Paul says about himself in the first letter to the Corinthians, paraphrased: the Jew a Jew, the Greek a Greek.

Bibliography

Marshall, I.H. (1987) Acts (Leicester: IVP).

Meyers, R. (2002) 'e-Sword 6.5.0' at <www.e-sword.net>, June 2002.

Stott, J.R.W. (1990) The Message of Acts (Leicester: IVP).


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