Set 15: The Church is Born

The book of Acts details the early Christian church as the message of Jesus being the Messiah spreads from Jewish communities to the reaches of the Roman empire. The revolutionary teaching that not only was Jesus the Christ, and believing in him brought salvation, but also that this extended to Gentiles as well as Jews made being a Christian a dangerous position.

This week's readings mostly focus on the time before Paul's conversion. Jesus' disciples and eyewitnesses, especially Peter, are shown both as standing up for their faith as well as wrestling with other new Christians about what expressing that faith looks like.


Message from Sunday, February 4th

Author: Acts is written by Luke to the same Theophilus addressed at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke.
Recorded: Since Acts follow's Paul's life and ministry closely but is missing key historical events such as Paul's martyrdom and the fall of Jerusalem, many scholars believe this was written around 63 AD.
Focus: Luke focused on these four themes in his letter (per the Concordia Self-Study Bible):
1. To present a history: Luke's writing showed both small and large scale details in early Christianity, from the founding of specific churches to the general spread throughout the region of the message by various teams. The details in Acts allow for cross-referencing and verification of these events with non-Biblical historical sources.
2.  To give a defense: the early Christians often had to explain their beliefs to the Jews, pagans, and the non-religious people of the day. The Book of Acts details how defending their faith was also a method for encouraging conversion.
3. To provide a guide: Christians reading this letter from Luke could read how certain topics around Jesus were wrestled with and in some cases were "settled" by the leaders of the church, providing more consistency to their understanding and expressions of faith as a community at large.
4. To depict the triumph of Christianity in the face of bitter persecution: The tense political and religious climate could have quickly stamped out the young church. However, with greater danger came an even stronger testimony from believers as they were willing to sacrifice status or their lives. The martyrs stories were often shared as proof to the the truth of the Gospel could be trusted and that death was better denial of the truth.

These questions can apply to all readings individually or can be done after all readings are finished.
  1. Where do you see your spiritual life aligned with or diverged from the early church?
  2. How does the Gospel message affect the people in the story?
  3. How do you see this affect in people around you today?
  4. What does this Biblical account invite you to do, think, or believe after reading it?

Dear God, just as you gave your Holy Spirit to the disciples at Pentecost, You have also given us Your Spirit to create and sustain our faith. Like the early Christians, we sometimes struggle with how to live out our faith in our lives. Help us to be bold like the disciples to share the saving work of Jesus with those around us. Show us people who need to know that you are a gracious God, and let us be a light to them. Amen.

You can engage these readings and devotional times individually or as a group. If you want to send an email to Family of Christ with your thoughts and questions, you are invited to click the link below.