Thursday, April 26, 2012

Study through Acts: Lesson Eight

Acts Chapter 5

Verses 1-11       

Ananias and Sapphira; See also 1 Cor 5:1-5 with 2 Cor 2:1-11 and 1 Timothy 5:20-21. What might be an application to today? What is the responsibility of the Church regarding those living publically in sin?

Verses 12-16      

Various miracles which beg the question: Why do we seek Jesus?  For Who He is or what He can do/does for us? See John 6:26-27. Compare also Joshua 24:14-15; Gen 28:20; 1 Kings 18:20-21; Habakkuk 3:17-18. What might be the application for us?

Verses 17-32      

Consider especially verse 29. Have you ever heard someone say, "If I see a miracle, I will believe in God"?

Here is another case in which seeing miracles saves no one. Compare Numbers 14:1-24; Acts 14:8-19.  Application?

What is our protection against such hardness? How did the apostles get the inner strength which compelled their comment in verse 29? Does Acts 4:13 help answer that question?  What about the events of Acts 2:1-4, 14-24? Does that section help answer the question? 

What might be an application in these verses for us?

Verses 33-42           

Despite threats against them, what did the apostles do?  See vv 40-42 (euangeglion [Greek] = "Telling the good news about Jesus").  Now see Eph 6:13-20.

If St. Paul needed it, do we today need it any less? What will you do to acquire and wear that attire? How will you euangeglion – tell others the good news about Jesus? What does the expression, “Walk the talk” have to do with telling others the good news about Jesus?

Next time: Chapter 6

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Study through Acts: Lesson Seven

Study through Acts, Lesson 7
Chapter 4

 Acts 4:12   Compare verse 12 with John 14:6 and John 8:24. Also see the Catechism paragraphs 430-435. After reflecting on these Bible texts and the Catechism, what do you conclude about the exquisitely unique role of Jesus Christ in our salvation? Is there any other way by which someone may be saved?

verses 13-14  Note the text tells us the disciples were untrained and uneducated, but “having been with Jesus.” See also 1 Cor 1:17-31. What is the application for you?
Consider the question, how do we “be with” Jesus? See Leviticus 18:3-4, 24 and 2 Cor 6:17, Rom 12:1-2 for hints)

Verses 15-22   Compare John 11:43-48.  If miracles save no one, then what does?  And what is our role in the sharing of the gospel?  See also 1 Cor 3:4-11; 2 Macc 6:18-28. Application?

Verses 19-20 Is there an application between these verses and saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter”?

Verses  23-31  See verse 27-28. Compare 2:23 and then, for example, Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Wisdom 2:12-20. Note also Luke 23:25-27.

Verses  32-37      Setting up for chapter 5 with Ananias and Sapphira

430 Jesus means in Hebrew: "God saves." At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.18 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, "will save his people from their sins".19 In Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.

431 In the history of salvation God was not content to deliver Israel "out of the house of bondage"20 by bringing them out of Egypt. He also saves them from their sin. Because sin is always an offense against God, only he can forgive it.21 For this reason Israel, becoming more and more aware of the universality of sin, will no longer be able to seek salvation except by invoking the name of the Redeemer God.22

432 The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,23 so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."24

434 Jesus' Resurrection glorifies the name of the Savior God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the "name which is above every name".27 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.28

435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words "through our Lord Jesus Christ". The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words "blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." The Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Many Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word "Jesus" on their lips.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Study through Acts: Lesson Six

Chapter 3

(Continued from last time chapter 3:17-26) --

3: 17-26     The gospel proclamation. Note the key words: repent, conversion, sins wiped away, refreshment, don’t listen à cut off from the people, turn from evil ways.  Consider now John 14:6 and John 8:24.

What might we expect to see in repentance and conversion?  Consider Matthew 3:8 and  St. Paul’s conversion –
                  A changed mind: Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:1-2;
                  A changed life: Col 3:3-14; Rom 12:9-21;
                                           Rom 13:11-14
                  A changed attitude: Phil 2:1-8; Rom 15:1-3;
                                                  Rom 14:1-4

Chapter 4

vv. 1-12     Note the focus of the apostles in verse 2. Note also: Acts 1:22; 2:31; 4:2; 4:33; 17:18,32; 23:6; 26:23; Rom 1:4; 6:5; 1 Cor 15:13,20; Phil 3:10; 1 Peter 1:3 What might be the application for us?

Compare verse 7 with Matt 21:23. Consider what is OUR authority.   (See Mat 28:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9; Consider this paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1270 "Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church" and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.

Now see Pope Benedict and Pope Paul VI paragraphs below. Consider the questions I embedded with those references.

Pope Benedict, in his address on May 30, 2011, stressed the urgency of evangelizing modern society, saying that Christians today face the task of reaching a world that grows increasingly apathetic to the message of the Gospel.  . .  “It is important to make them understand that being Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing, capable of taking all that is good in modernity.” The entire Christian community “is called to revive the missionary spirit in order to offer the new message that persons of our times are hoping for.” The “lifestyle of believers needs real credibility," the Pope said, adding that Christians should be "much more convincing" because the "condition of the persons to whom it is addressed" is dramatic.

Taken from:

Questions to consider:

1. What does the expression, “Walk the Talk” mean to you when you consider the Pope’s comments above?

2. What do you think he means when he talks about the “lifestyle of believers needs real credibility”?

3. How can believers give greater credibility to the gospel and conversion?  

Now Read Pope Paul VI’s comments in Gaudium et Spes.

Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.” Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) Pope Paul VI Dec 7 1965 (Paragraph 19)  found at:

4. What similarities do you see with Pope Benedict’s comments above?

5. What is Pope Paul’s challenge to believers today?

We continue this chapter next time.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Acts Lesson Five

Chapter 3

I added a few more thoughts to our look at chapter 3:1 from last time:

 v. 1    Daily time set aside for prayer. Application?  See also my posts at for some prayer strategies.

The hour of prayer for Jews occurred at: 3rd hour, 6th and 9th (09, 12, 3PM).  See Daniel 6:10.  See also Mark 15 and note the times at which specific events of the crucifixion occurred:  verse 25(crucified), vv. 33-34 (Darkness) and 44-46    (Died). See Catechism paragraphs 2725-2733 and my embedded comments from the last lesson. Then look at Luke 16:8 and consider how members of Islam typically pray five times a day: before sunrise, noon, late afternoon, after sunset and before bed. How might that inform (challenge?) us about Christian faith and practice?

3:2   Beautiful gate was probably near Solomon’s porch (see verse 11). But scholars only can speculate.

3: 1-15   Note how Peter and John took yet another opportunity to preach the gospel message after a crowd had gathered. When you have met the risen Jesus, it’s hard to be quiet. Application for you and me?

v. 13   “Servant” (or Son) (probably related to Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Note how often “servant” is mentioned in that Isaiah passage). Consider John 13:5. It is often easier to wash someone’s feet one time than it is to be ‘as Christ’ to someone – especially those of our own household. How many families would not break apart if the husband and wife followed this example, and that in Ephesians 5:22-31 (don’t skim vv 25-31 in that passage).

vv. 17 ‘Acted in ignorance’. See 1 Tim 1:12-15 with Acts 26:8-18; 2 Cor 4:3-6 (note the follow on verses in 7-10. Application?)

vv. 17-26 The gospel proclamation. Note the key words: repent, conversion, sins wiped away, refreshment, don’t listen à cut off from the people, turn from evil ways.  Consider now John 14:6 and John 8:24.  What might be an application for us?

Continued next time