Friday, August 12, 2011

Early New Testament Church: Lesson 2

I didn't dare post my answers from last week's lesson because they were so rubbish.

We had to read Luke-Acts and our lesson, then answer the questions. These are they:

  1. How have you found it helpful to read Luke-Acts as one story?
  2. Have you discovered any downsides, difficulties or disadvantages to this approach?
  3. How would you define Luke's "theology of reversal"?
  4. Can you give examples of reversal other than those given in the notes?
  5. How would you explain the role of Jerusalem in the story of Luke-Acts?
  6. Evaluate the claim that Luke-Acts is anti-Semitic in tone. (NT502 students only)
  7. Does Luke foresee any future for the Jews as a people, especially in terms of the positive prophecies concerning Israel and Jerusalem in chapters 1-2 of his Gospel? (NT502 students only)
Only the smartypants post grad students had to do 6 and 7 but those questions were still worth a look.

For lesson 2 we had to read the lesson and a portion of our text book. We're using Pentecost to Patmos by Craig. L. Blomberg.

Answers for Lesson 2*
  1. Why was the Book of Acts written?
The book of Acts was written to provide a detailed account of the early Christian Church. But the reasons for the writing of acts diversify into showing multiple aspects of God's redemptive plan and transition from Old to New Covenant. It is not only a good account of these occurrences but it is done with great literary skill and presentation of theological themes which are important to the spiritual understanding of the whole church past, present and future.

If Acts is neither a Gospel nor an Epistle, what kind of literature is it?

Blomberg has noted that it has been suggested Acts is a mixture of genres: a short historical monograph, an ancient intellectual biography, an apologetic historiography and biblical history. Blomberg then finishes by suggesting Acts is best described as a theological history. I believe this definition of a theological history is a beneficial encapsulation of the book of Acts. While being a book of historical occurrences is also able to show the theological and spiritual transition and fulfilment, from the Old Testament and Israel to an “all inclusive” church with Jew and gentile alike. There are various different genres represented within the book which all play an important part in communicating the message which God conveys.
  1. Describe the life of the early church in Jerusalem in the first "panel" of Acts. Was it as idyllic as it is sometimes made out to be?
Although they knew their sovereign God was in control, it was a confusing and unknown time because they were waiting for the Holy Spirit and were finding their feet. Though there was conflict and hardship, it was a great time of blessing, spiritual growth and change.
  1. How do you understand the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira? Why were they dealt with so severely?
It is not severe – we are extended grace and mercy. Each of us deserves the same because we are all guilty before our holy Maker. God is under no compunction to forgive anyone who rebels against Him.  Keeping a promise made to God is very serious indeed (see Joshua 7:10-26 and Judges 11:29-40), and within their lie, Ananias and Sapphira were breaking the promise they had made to the apostles which was effectively to the Holy Spirit. It was then, and is still today, an example of the severity of God.

*I would like it to be noted that Craig is my editor-in-chief and tea-bringer.


  1. Some of the commentators favor the idea that Acts is a court document. The reason it stops where it does at Paul's first trial is because it is a personal testamony to his character and the events.
    Also notice the positive reference to the Roman officers.
    Personally I think the idea has some value.

  2. That's an interesting idea. I'll have to look into it. :-)