Thursday, March 15, 2012

Acts Introduction

Introductory Comments

Acts is the continuation of the Gospel of Luke. The stated purpose of this particular volume is to provide Theophilus further instruction about Jesus and His work through the Church (see Luke 1:4, Acts 1:1). Theophilus, a Greek word meaning, "Lover of God," could have been an actual person, or a code word for all those who loved God. In either case, Luke shows through this book that the preaching and teaching of the early church was rooted in the Old Testament. Luke demonstrates that the Jewish Messiah both prepared His specially chosen followers and commissioned them to be witnesses to his resurrection and to all else that he did (Acts 10:37-42, Luke 24:44-49 with Acts 1:8).

Acts is the history of how the church grew from a handful of Jewish peasants into a sprawling community spanning the Roman Empire. It also answers many questions about early church history, theology and ecclesiology.

The “We” passages”, are regarded by some to be excerpts from Luke’s diaries while on journeys with Paul (e.g. 16:10-17;  20:5-15;  21:1-18;  27:1-28). Chapters 1-12, focus on Peter. The focus shifts to Paul in chapters 13-28.

Acts was penned approximately 3 – 5 years after Gospel of Luke, (c. 68-69 A.D.). Some theologians give a date of 85-90. See this website for further discussion of the date of Acts:

1:1-2   given commandment, orders, charge (from the Greek).         
          a. What does that word suggest?
          b. See Luke 24:45-53; Matthew 28:19-20

1:3      Why do you think Jesus appeared to His disciples and to others?
            (see for example 1 Cor 15:3-9; Romans 1:4-5).  Application for us?

 1:4-5 (with Acts 2:1-6; 1 Cor 12:7-11; 14:1-5; Jude 1:20-21 [note two types of 'tongues'). See the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Church statements, (below):  

1:6-11    Note the question and the answer.  What does the answer tell us about the question? What does verse 8 tell us about the point of verse 7? What does verse 11 suggest to us?

1:12-14  Why were they in the upper room? What were they doing? What is the application for us?

1:15-26   What does this imply regarding apostolic succession? (see verses 21-22, 24 with Acts 9:10-15).

Catechism Paragraphs:

767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church." Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun." As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.

768 So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit "bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her." "Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."

And about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal:  -- Salient points of the article:

“In 1975 Pope Paul VI greeted ten thousand Catholic charismatics from all over the world at the ninth international conference of the Renewal, “The Church and the world need more than ever that ‘the miracle of Pentecost should continue in history’ . . . How could this ‘spiritual renewal’ not be ‘good fortune’ for the Church and the world?” [others have translated “good fortune” as “a chance”] . . .”

“Pope John Paul II has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In 1979 soon after becoming Pope he said, “I am convinced that this movement is a sign of the Spirit’s action . . . a very important component in the total renewal of the Church.” He has met with the international leaders of the Renewal on a number of occasions, and regularly sends greetings to National and International Conferences on the Renewal.”

“The 1984 Statement, A Pastoral Statement on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, concluded with these words: We wish those in the charismatic renewal to know that we make our own the view of Yves Congar: “The charismatic renewal is a grace for the Church.” We assure those in the charismatic renewal of the support they enjoy from the bishops of the United States, and we encourage them in their efforts to renew the life of the Church.”

more next time

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