Monday, December 31, 2012

Acts 15: 22-41

We pick up our lesson today where we left off last time. This lesson is a bit short because of the extra reading I am asking you to do.  I hope you find the lesson thought-provoking.

Acts 15: 22-29    Who took part in writing this letter of doctrinal instruction? What was their role in the early Church?  Note verse 24. It seems some among the early Church were taking it upon themselves to teach doctrines that had not been agreed upon by the apostles. Now consider Matthew 16:18-19 along with 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (important to read the entire chapter for context), 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15 (again, context is important. Note also St. Paul’s final statement in verse 15.), see also 1 Timothy 3:15.  What might these passages suggest about Church leadership with regard to the authority for doctrinal teaching?

Note verse 27 and verse 32. We don’t know what they said, but what might we conclude it became part of?  Consider also Colossians 4:16, 2 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

Verses 36-41  What do you think about verse 38-40?  (See 13:13.  Note the language Luke uses in both 13:13 and 15:38 to describe what Mark did).  Now also note 2 Timothy 4:10-11.  What do you think might have happened to the two men?  Application?
We will move into chapter 16 next time.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Acts 15 verses 12-21

Verses 12-21   James seems to be the leader – or at least one of them. (verse 19-20.  See also Galatians 2:9). Note his comment in 14 and then his appeal in 15-18. Why is his comment in those verses significant? What can we glean from this in application to our own lives? Consider Psalm 1:1-3 or 2 Chronicles 20:20 or Joshua 1:8. What do you also know about all the stanzas in Psalm 119? (Hint, they are an acrostic). The Jews were called, “The People of the Book” – primarily because of their love for and knowledge of God’s word. But what of Catholics? If you have not read Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Dei Verbum, take the time to access it here:    Or do an internet search, ‘Dei Verbum’  Please see below for a sample paragraph from the document. Then think about what the phrases I bolded might mean for your walk of faith.  How will you make God’s word your source, your food, your compass? If you’d like some ideas, send me an email.

Verse 20 Note how few rules there were early on in the Church. Why do you think that changed by the time St. Paul began writing his various epistles?
(By the way, in verse 20,the word translated in the NAB “unlawful marriage” is the Greek word, porneia (e.g. we get the word 'pornography' from that word). Porneia is translated in every other place in the Scripture  that I could find to mean some form of illicit sexual intercourse (adultery, fornication, intercourse with animals, etc. b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12)).

Verse 21  What is the lesson for us in the Church that might be similar to James’ comment in this verse? (e.g. how often did Israel 'hear' but not 'understand' or obey?


Dei Verbum

The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body . . . Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Heb. 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thess. 2:13).

We will continue chapter 15 next time.