Presentation on theme: "The Church begins to expand (Acts 6:1-9:31) NT2 – Study 4."— Presentation transcript:
The Church begins to expand (Acts 6:1-9:31) NT2 – Study 4
Outline of this study 1.Appointment of the Seven (6:1-7) 2.The controversy over Stephen (6:8-15) 3.Stephen’s reply to the charges (7:1-53) 4.The death of Stephen and its aftermath (7:54- 8:3) 5.The gospel spreads to Samaria (8:4-25) 6.The conversion of the Ethiopian (8:26-40) 7.The conversion and call of Saul the Persecutor (9:1-31)
Source: David Cook, Teaching Acts (Christian Focus)
Several new directions of growth from this point onwards (cf. Spencer, pp72-4) – A marked increase in ministry PERSONNEL – The church’s TERRITORY progresses beyond Jerusalem – Recurrent PATTERN of persecution and conversion
ACTS show both TRIUMPHS and TROUBLES in the early church. Why is this important?
1. Appointment of the Seven (6:1-7) The test (6:1) – Unity + Integrity under threat! The response (6:2-4) – Why the Twelve said NO? (Cf. Exodus 18:19-22 & Mark 1:35-39) The outcome (6:5-7) – Leadership growth + gospel growth
Stephen points out that: – concerning the Temple -> the Jews had made an idol out of it and that God dwells, not in temples made with hands, but with his people wherever he wills to reveal himself to them; – concerning the Law -> it was the Jews who had consistently failed to keep the law given to them.
3. Stephen’s reply to the charges (7:1-53) Main components of Stephen’s apologia: Abraham& ‘the place’ 7:1-19 For all the apparent significance of the promised land, Israel’s forefather was given no inheritance in the land, ‘not even a foot’s length’ (7:5). Instead, God can and did manifest himself to his people in places outside of the promised land: to Abraham in Mesopotamia (vv2ff.), to Joseph in Egypt (vv9-10), and to Moses in the wilderness (vv20ff, 30).
3. Stephen’s reply to the charges (7:1-53) Main components of Stephen’s apologia (cont’d) Joseph & relocation 7:9-16 Story of Joseph and his brothers illustrates dramatically the mobility of Israel’s patriarchs beyond holy land limits. Beginning with Joseph’s being sold as a slave to Egypt (7:9-10), reunion or reconstitution of the brothers in Egyptian soil driven by famine and ‘great affliction’ (7:11-13), and the eventual relocation and resettling of the whole clan in Egypt (7:14). Note EMPHASIS: ‘but God was with him’ (7:9)!
3. Stephen’s reply to the charges (7:1-53) Main components of Stephen’s apologia (cont’d) Moses & rejection 7:17-44 Stephen’s account of Moses focuses on his rejection: at birth, cast out by his own father (7:19-21), his own ‘brothers’ (7:23-29, 35), and by Israel in the wilderness (7:38-43). Stephen shows that the Jews were the offspring of those who persistently opposed Moses both in Egypt and in the wilderness (7:39). Moses was the first of many who endured similar opposition from Israel – a pattern that continues to Jesus and his followers.
3. Stephen’s reply to the charges (7:1-53) Main components of Stephen’s apologia (cont’d) ‘The Most High’ God 7:45-50 He appeals to the highest authority of all, the ‘Most High’ who does not dwell in houses ‘made by hands’ – a derogatory expression used in OT of idols (Isa 31:7), applied to the Jews to show how the temple had become an ‘idol’ to them (cf. Jer 7:1-20). The promise to Abraham finds its ultimate fulfilment neither in the Law of Moses nor in the Temple, but in Jesus. Tragically, Jerusalem rejected Jesus and preferred to remain with the Temple as the final mark of God’s favour.
3. Stephen’s reply to the charges (7:1-53) Main components of Stephen’s apologia (cont’d) Conclusion 7:51-53 He concludes by denouncing his judges (7:51ff). Their ‘uncircumcision’ denoted an obstinacy evidenced by their ‘resist[ing] the Holy Spirit’. (7:51) Moses had foretold the coming of a prophet like himself (7:37; cf. Deut 18:15). But the present leaders had committed the ultimate offence: they had betrayed and murdered this long-promised ‘Righteous One’(7:52). This was the climax of their ongoing resistance to the Holy Spirit.
4. Death of Stephen and its aftermath (7:54-8:3)
Read 7:54-8:3 – To whom did Stephen make his appeal? – What was Stephen’s greatest concern? – What did Stephen’s trial accomplish? 4. Death of Stephen & its aftermath
“Acts has no purpose, no plot, no structure, and no history without SUFFERING.” Paul House
5. Gospel spreads to Samaria (8:4-25) Not through the Twelve, but Philip of the Seven! Philip’s ministry resembles Jesus’ & apostles’ -> Highlights continuity!! Gift of Holy Spirit delayed till ministry of Peter and John -> WHY?
5. Gospel spreads to Samaria (8:4-25) David Cook (Teaching Acts, pp70-72) Historical, political and religious background: long-standing division between Judea and Samaria. God, by delaying the Samaritans’ reception of the Spirit, acknowledges this division, but also ends it. Jewish believers had to recognise that, just as God had saved them, so he makes no distinction, saving the Samaritans in the same way. The visit of Peter and John ensures the breaking down of their barrier. The Samaritans would receive the Spirit from the Jerusalem church-leaders’ hands, and Peter and John would tell their brothers of the integrity of the Samaritan experience. And the Samaritans would recognise that they had received the Spirit at the hand of the Jerusalem apostles. => Therefore, no justification for continuing the barrier between the two.
5. Gospel spreads to Samaria (8:4-25) Simon ‘the Great Power’ (8:10) – gospel growth continues to face serious dangers!! GOSPEL in Samaria Apostolic ministry Gospel growth! Self- promotion Financial gain
6. Conversion of Ethiopian (8:26-40) Focus of narrative GOSPEL beyond Jerusalem According to SCRIPTURES It’s all about JESUS
7. The conversion and call of Saul the Persecutor (9:1-31)
7. Conversion & call of Saul (9:1-31) His background (cf. pp58-60 in NT2 notes) Introduced in Stephen’s stoning (8:1-3) His conversion – Repeated three times (!) in Acts (chs 9, 22, 26)! – Initiated by the dramatic appearance of the risen Lord (9:3ff) + ministry of Ananias (9:10) – Conversion = Commission as Christ’s ‘chosen instrument’ – BEAR WITNESS + SUFFER for the Name! (9:15, 16)