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Comunicación y Gerencia

Spreading the
Christian Message:

Acts of the Apostles


Fr. Felix Just, s.j.
http://Catholic-Resources.org

March 31, 2007 – Center for Religion & Spirituality – LMU Extension
The Acts of the Apostles
in the Lectionary Readings of
the Easter Season
•Unlike the rest of the liturgical year, the first reading at
each Sunday liturgy during Easter Season is not taken
from Old Testament, but from Acts of the Apostles.

•Why? What message do these texts have for us today?

•What can these stories about the growth of Christianity


in the first century teach us about our role in spreading
the good news of Jesus Christ in our own world?
Readings from Acts
in the Lectionary for Mass

• Christmas Vigil – Years ABC


– Acts 13:16-17, 22-25 – Barnabas & Paul preach in
Antioch of Pisidia

• Baptism of the Lord – Years ABC


– Acts 10:34-38 – Peter Preaches about Jesus
to Cornelius’ Household
Readings from Acts in the
Lectionary for Mass (cont.)
• Weekdays in Easter Season– First Reading
– Easter Octave: Acts 2–4 (selections)
– Easter Week 2: Acts 4–6 (selections)
– Easter Week 3: Acts 6–9 (selections)
– Easter Week 4: Acts 11–13 (selections)
– Easter Week 5: Acts 14–16 (selections)
– Easter Week 6: Acts 16–18 (selections)
– Easter Week 7: Acts 19–28 (selections)
Readings from Acts in the
Lectionary for Mass (cont.)

Sunday / Feast Year A Year B Year C


Easter Sunday Acts 10:34a, 37-43 (same as in Year A) (same as in Year A)
2nd Sunday Acts 2:42-47 Acts 4:32-35 Acts 5:12-16
3rd Sunday Acts 2:14, 22-33 Acts 3:13-15, 17-19 Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
4th Sunday Acts 2:14a, 36-41 Acts 4:8-12 Acts 13:14, 43-52
5th Sunday Acts 6:1-7 Acts 9:26-31 Acts 14:21-27

6th Sunday Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 Acts 10:25-26, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
34-35, 44-48
Ascension Acts 1:1-11 (same as in Year A) (same as in Year A)
[ 7th Sunday] Acts 1:12-14 Acts 1:15-17, 20ac-26 Acts 7:55-60

Pentecost Acts 2:1-11 (same as in Year A) (same as in Year A)


Readings from Acts in the
Lectionary – Year A

Sunday /Feast First Reading – Year A


Easter (ABC) Acts 10:34a, 37-43 – Peter to Cornelius: Jesus Sent Apostles to Preach
2nd Sunday Acts 2:42-47 – Communal Life of Believers in Jerusalem
3rd Sunday Acts 2:14, 22-33 – Peter Preaches at Pentecost (excerpt: Jesus & David)
4th Sunday Acts 2:14a, 36-41 – Peter’s Speech at Pentecost (Repent & Be Baptized)
5th Sunday Acts 6:1-7 – Appointment of Seven Hellenists as Community Servants
6th Sunday Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 – Philip Evangelizes Samaria; Apostles Concur
Ascension (ABC) Acts 1:1-11 – Promise of Holy Spirit and Ascension of Jesus
[ 7th Sunday ] Acts 1:12-14 – Jerusalem Community: Apostles, Women, Jesus’ Family
Pentecost (ABC) Acts 2:1-11 – Holy Spirit Comes upon Disciples at Pentecost
Readings from Acts in the
Lectionary – Year B

Sunday /Feast First Reading – Year B


Easter (ABC) Acts 10:34a, 37-43 – Peter to Cornelius: Jesus Sent Apostles to Preach
2nd Sunday Acts 4:32-35 – Unity & Sharing in Community of Believers
3rd Sunday Acts 3:13-15, 17-19 – Peter Preaches in Temple: God Has Glorified Jesus
4th Sunday Acts 4:8-12 – Peter’s Speech before Sanhedrin
5th Sunday Acts 9:26-31 – Saul (Paul) Visits and Preaches in Jerusalem
6th Sunday Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 – Cornelius’ Family Receives H.Sp. & Baptism
Ascension (ABC) Acts 1:1-11 – Promise of Holy Spirit and Ascension of Jesus
[ 7th Sunday ] Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26 – Choice of Another Apostle to Replace Judas
Pentecost (ABC) Acts 2:1-11 – Holy Spirit Comes upon Disciples at Pentecost
Readings from Acts in the
Lectionary – Year C

Sunday /Feast First Reading – Year C


Easter (ABC) Acts 10:34a, 37-43 – Peter to Cornelius: Jesus Sent Apostles to Preach
2nd Sunday Acts 5:12-16 – Signs & Wonders Performed by Apostles
3rd Sunday Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 – Trial of Apostles before Sanhedrin
4th Sunday Acts 13:14, 43-52 – Barnabas and Paul Preach in Antioch of Pisidia
5th Sunday Acts 14:21-27 – Barnabas and Paul Conclude First Mission
6th Sunday Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 – Letter of Apostles after Council of Jerusalem
Ascension (ABC) Acts 1:1-11 – Promise of Holy Spirit and Ascension of Jesus
[ 7th Sunday ] Acts 7:55-60 – Martyrdom of Stephen
Pentecost (ABC) Acts 2:1-11 – Holy Spirit Comes upon Disciples at Pentecost
Acts of the Apostles:
Outline

• Luke’s Prologue: Summary of end of Luke’s Gospel (1:1-14)


• Early Days of Church in Jerusalem (1:15–8:3)
• Christianity Spreads thru Judea and Samaria (8:4–12:25)
• Barnabas & Saul/Paul Sent from Antioch (13:1–14:28)
• Council of Jerusalem: Gentile Xn Converts (15:1-35)
• Mission Journeys to Greece & Asia Minor (15:36–20:38)
• Paul Returns to Jerusalem; prison in Caesarea (21:1–26:32)
• Paul Taken as Prisoner to Rome (27:1–28:31)
• Paul in Rome, Continues Preaching about Jesus (28:17-31)
Acts: Literary Issues

Abbrev (Length): Acts (28 chapters / 1005 verses / 18451 words in Greek)
Author: No attribution in book; traditionally ascribed to "Luke", physician & companion of Paul
(Col 4:4; 2 Tim 4:11; Phlm 24); well-educated Greek writer, probably Gentile heritage
Authenticity: Definitely by same author as Gospel of Luke
Recipients: "Theophilus" (1:1); well-educated Greek; or group familiar with Paul's teachings
Date: Late 80's; shortly after Luke’s Gospel
Where From: Unknown, possibly Antioch in Syria
Unity/Integrity: Single work, but compiled from multiple older sources (see Luke 1:1-4)
Literary Genre: Record of "acts"; partial account of growth of early Xnty, focusing on certain Apostles
Language: Good literary Greek; quoted speeches use various Greek styles
Purpose: Continue the "orderly account" begun in Luke’s Gospel, showing growth of Christianity
Acts 1:8

• “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit


has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
ends of the earth.”
– Acts 1–7: preaching of the apostles and growth of the
Church in Jerusalem.
– Acts 8–12: spread of Church to other parts of Judea
and Samaria (and nearby Syria).
– Acts 13–28: expansion of Christian mission to “the ends
of the earth,” esp. to Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome,
capital and center of Roman empire.
“Acts of the Holy Spirit”

As in Luke’s Gospel, most of the action within the Acts


of the Apostles is inspired/guided by God’s Spirit:
• Jesus instructs apostles “through the Holy Spirit” (1:2).
• First disciples are “baptized with the Holy Spirit” at Pentecost
(1:5, 8; 2:1-4; 11:15-16).
• Apostles are “full of/filled with” the Holy Spirit, esp. when
they preach (1:8; 2:4; 4:8, 31; 11:24; 13:9, 52).
• Holy Spirit also spoke thru King David and prophets in Israel
(1:16; 4:25; 28:25).
• God “will pour out” his Spirit on all people in the last days
(2:17-18, 33; 10:45).
“Acts of the Holy Spirit”
(cont.)
• Believers, even Gentiles, receive the Holy Spirit when they
repent and are baptized (2:38; 15:8; 19:5-6).
• Sometimes receiving the Holy Spirit even precedes baptism
(10:44-48).
• Some people “test,” “lie to,” “oppose” the Holy Spirit, with
dire consequences (5:1-11; 7:51).
• Deacons/ministers must be “full of the Spirit” (6:1-6), esp. when
they prophesy (6:10; 7:55-59; 11:28; 21:4).
• Spirit is conferred by “laying on of hands” (8:17-19; 9:17; 19:6).
• Spirit “speaks to” the apostles & prophets (8:29; 10:19; 11:12;
13:1-4; 21:11).
• Spirit leads & guides decisions & actions of Christian leaders
(15:28; 16:6-7; 19:21; 20:22-23).
Christian Theology
in the Speeches of Acts

• Many sermons & speeches given by apostles (esp. by


Peter and Paul) in various contexts summarize early
Christian preaching in Acts:

2:14-41 3:12-26 4:8-12 5:29-32 7:2-53 8:26-38


10:35-49 13:16-41 16:30-34 17:22-34 19:1-7 20:17-35
22:1-21 23:1-6 24:10-21 26:1-23 28:23-28
Theology in Speeches:
Summary / Outline

• Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, Christ, sent by God,


– as promised in the Scriptures, as foretold by the prophets,
– for the forgiveness of sins, for the salvation of the world;
• He was rejected by people, condemned by authorities;
– he suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried.
• Yet God exalted him on high, raised him up to new life;
– and he will one day return to us in glory.
• In response, people must repent, believe, be baptized,
– receive the Holy Spirit, and join the community of believers.
Community Life
of the First Disciples

Communal life of early believers in Jerusalem:


• After Peter preaches to a crowd at Pentecost, many
become believers & are baptized:
– “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching
(didache) and fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread
and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
– More description of common life (Acts 2:43-47)

• More about sharing property (Acts 4:32-35)


– Two examples of sharing:
– Positive: Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37)
– Negative: Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)
Parallels between
Apostles and Jesus
The Apostles in Acts Jesus in Luke's Gospel
Holy Spirit on apostles at Pentecost (2:1-4) Holy Spirit on Jesus at baptism (3:21-22)
Peter preaches, quoting from prophet Joel Jesus preaches, after reading from prophet
(2:16-36; quoting Joel 2:28-32) Isaiah (4:14-30; quoting Isa 61:1-2)
Apostles call people to join them (2:37-41, 47b) Jesus calls his first followers (5:1-11, 27-32)
Peter and John heal a lame beggar (3:1-10) Jesus heals a blind beggar (18:35-43)
High priest arrests some apostles & questions Jesus is arrested & interrogated by the council
them before the council (4:1-22) (22:47-71)
Narrator summarizes “signs and wonders” of Narrator summarizes miraculous activity of
apostles, especially healings & exorcisms Jesus, esp. healings & exorcisms
(5:12-16; 8:6-7, 13) (4:40-41; 6:17-19)
The sick are healed thru Peter's shadow (5:15) A woman is healed when she touches fringes of
& Paul's handkerchiefs (19:11-12) Jesus' clothing (8:43-48)
Jewish leaders want to kill the apostles, because Jewish leaders plot to kill Jesus, partly due to
of their teachings (5:17-42) his teachings (19:45-48)
More Parallels of
Apostles and Jesus
The Apostles in Acts Jesus in Luke's Gospel
Peter raises Tabitha from the dead (9:36-42) Jesus raises a widow's son (7:11-17)
Apostles meet a Roman centurion (10:1-48) Jesus heals son of a Roman centurion (7:1-10)
Paul goes to Jerusalem, despite dangers that Jesus goes to Jerusalem, despite dangers that
await him there (19:21; 21:8-17) await him there (9:51; 13:33; 19:11-28)
Paul is welcomed in Jerusalem by believers, and Jesus is welcomed in Jerusalem by large crowds,
soon goes to the temple (21:17-26) and soon goes to the temple (19:28-48)
Paul seized by a Jewish mob; later on trial before Jesus arrested by a Jewish mob; later tried by
Roman governors (21:30-36; 23:23–26:32) Roman procurator (22:47-54; 23:1-25)
Paul argues against Sadducees, who do not Jesus is questioned by Sadducees, who
believe in resurrection (23:6-9) dispute concept of resurrection (20:29-38)
Paul takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and
eats (27:35; cf. 20:7-11) gives it to disciples to eat (27:35; cf. 24:30)
As he’s stoned, Stephen hands his spirit over As he’s dying, Jesus forgives his executioners
to Jesus & forgives his executioners (7:59-60) & hands his spirit over to God (23:34, 46)
Parallels between
Peter and Paul

• 1st half (Acts 1-12), early Church in/near Jerusalem


– focuses on leadership of Peter (and John)
• 2nd half (Acts 13-28), expansion of Church into non-
Jewish areas of Roman Empire
– focuses on Barnabas & Paul (and their associates)
• Yet some overlap:
– Paul (named Saul before 13:9) is introduced as early as 7:58,
and also 8:1-3; 9:1-30; 11:25-30.
– Peter (called Simon in 10:17-18, 32; Simeon in 15:14) is still a key
player at “Council of Jerusalem” (15:1-35), although
leadership of James in Jerusalem church is now more evident
(15:13-21; cf. 21:18).
Parallels between
Peter and Paul (cont.)

• Paul calls himself “apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13)


and calls Peter “apostle to the circumcised” (Rom 2:8)

• Yet in Acts, both convert both Jews & Gentiles:


– Peter preaches mainly to Jews, but is also involved in
conversion of some Samaritans (8:14-25) & of Cornelius, a
Roman centurion (10:1–11:1-18).
– Paul works mainly among Gentiles, but normally begins in a
new town by preaching in local synagogue to fellow Jews
(13:5, 14, 44; 14:1; 17:1; 18:4; etc.).
Easter Sunday (ABC)

• Acts 10:34a, 37-43 – Peter to Cornelius:


– God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with Holy Spirit & power
– We are witnesses of all He did in Judea & Jerusalem
– They put him to death; God raised Him on the third day
– He appeared to us, chosen witnesses; ate & drank with us
– He sent us to preach
– All who believe in Him
receive forgiveness of sins
2nd Sunday of Easter (C)

• Acts 5:12-16 – Many signs


& wonders are performed by
the Apostles
– They gathered in Solomon’s
Portico (in Jerus. Temple)
– The Lord added great
numbers of believers
– Peter’s shadow heals the sick
in the streets
– Many people bring the sick &
demoniacs
Massacio, 1426, Florence
3rd Sunday of Easter (C)

• Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 – Trial of the Apostles


– Apostles arrested & brought before Sanhedrin
– Questioned by High Priest (ref. back to 4:1-21)
– Peter: “We must obey
God rather than men”
– You killed Jesus,
but God raised/exalted him;
– We are witnesses,
as is the Holy Spirit
– [ Lect. omits Gamaliel’s speech ]
– Apostles dismissed & rejoice
Jacques Tissot (1832-1902)
4th Sunday of Easter (C)

• Acts 13:14, 43-52 – Barnabas & Paul Preach


– Antioch of Pisidia (south-central Turkey)
– Preach on sabbath in synagogue
– Week later, controversy with Jews
– Apostle turn toward Gentiles
– Word of God continues to spread
– Paul & Barnabas opposed/expelled
– Disciples filled with Joy & H.S.
5th Sunday of Easter (C)

• Acts 14:21-27 – Mission to the Gentiles


– Barnabas & Paul leave Derbe,
revisit new Churches (cf. 13:13—14:20)
in Lystra, Iconium, Pisidian Antioch
– Strengthen the disciples;
warn about hardships
– Appoint presbyters/elders
in each Church; pray & fast
– Go back to Syrian Antioch
report to Church all about
their Mission to Gentiles
6th Sunday of Easter (C)

• Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 – Council of Jerusalem


– Controversy in Antioch: Must Gentiles be circumcised?
– Paul & Barnabas visit apostles & elders in Jerusalem
– [ Lectionary omits most of the council’s deliberations ]
– Apostles write a letter, summarizing their conclusions:
• Send Barsabbas & Silas
back with Paul & Barnabas.
• Gentiles do NOT need
to keep full Mosaic Law.
• Just refrain from blood,
idolatry, and immorality.
Ascension of the Lord (ABC)

• Acts 1:1-11 – The Promise of the Holy Spirit


and Ascension of Jesus
– Luke to Theophilus:
brief review of Gospel
– Disciples: “Kingdom? When?”
– Jesus: “You’ll receive Holy Spirit”
– You’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
Judea, Samaria, ends of the earth
– Jesus ascends to heaven
– Two men in white: “Why look up?
Jesus will return!”
[ 7th Sunday of Easter – C]

• Acts 7:55-60 – The Martyrdom of Stephen


Pentecost Sunday (ABC)

• Acts 2:1-11 – Coming of the Holy Spirit


Acts of the Apostles

• First Apostles
– Filled with Holy Spirit
– “Sent Out” to Preach Good News

• Today’s Apostles
– Are We Filled with the Spirit?
– What Do We Preach (in words & actions)?

• Questions? Discussion?
The Acts of the Apostles
in the Lectionary Readings of
the Easter Season
•Unlike the rest of the liturgical year, the first reading at
each Sunday liturgy during Easter Season is not taken
from Old Testament, but from Acts of the Apostles.

•Why? What message do these texts have for us today?

•What can these stories about the growth of Christianity


in the first century teach us about our role in spreading
the good news of Jesus Christ in our own world?