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A Reflection on The Book of Acts

Have you ever worried about how the struggles you face in life will turn out?  Have you ever wondered if your efforts and sacrifices will make a difference in the world?  I think we all feel this way at some time (or even many times) in our lives.

So, where can we turn for comfort and wisdom to serve as our guide?  I encourage you to read the Book of Acts….Don’t worry its actually a quick “read!” It’s an amazing story about the beginning of our Church and the many struggles faced by the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus to make His teachings come alive in a very sinful world.

What you will find is a true story about ordinary sinful people like ourselves, who faced incredible hardships yet valiantly fought on.  What they accomplished seems miraculous today, but at the time I think they may have had many of the same questions and fears we all have.  The only difference is we have the great blessing to know how THEIR story ends.

The Book of Acts can help calm our fears and strengthen our faith because we are reminded that we do not face our struggles alone.  Just as was true for the Apostles and Disciples, we are guided and protected by the Holy Spirit- as Jesus promised.  Even in our darkest moments, we are never alone- as Jesus promised.

So, go ahead- pick up that dusty Bible you decorate your bookshelf with or use the internet to find an on-line version of this amazing story.  Please give yourself this wonderful gift.  You may be surprised at the peace you will find in Jesus’ promise for your life.

-Deacon Paul Snyder III

The Gospel of Luke

Early Christian tradition, from the late second century on, identifies the author of this gospel and the Acts of the Apostles as Luke, as a Syrian from Antioch. Luke was not part of the first generation of Christian disciples, but received his teachings from those who were eyewitnesses to the events of the gospel. Many scholars feel that the author was acquainted with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE and therefore date the writing of the gospel around 80-90 CE. Because Luke substitutes Greek names for the Aramaic or Hebrew, omitted the concerns of the Jewish Christian community, has interest in the Gentile Christians and has an incomplete knowledge of Palestinian geography, it is suggested that the writer was a non-Palestinian writing to a non-Palestinian audience made up of Gentile Christians.

Luke shows that the teaching and preaching of early church leaders was grounded in the teaching and preaching of Jesus. The continuity between the historical ministry of Jesus and the ministry of the apostles is Luke’s way of guaranteeing that the teachings of the church conform to the teachings of Jesus.

The gospel is dominated by a historical perspective, a perspective that is based in salvation history. God’s divine plan for our salvation was accomplished during the earthly ministry of Jesus, who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies by the events of his life. Luke works to present Christianity as a legitimate form of worship in the Roman world, able to meet the spiritual needs of a world empire like that of Rome.

Through Luke’s interpretation of the gospel message, he turns the early Christians away from the expectation of the Jesus’ immediate return to the day-by-day concerns of the community. He is concerned with presenting the words and deeds of Jesus as guides for Christian conduct, using Jesus as the model Christian.

The 24 chapters of the Gospel of Luke will prepare you for the second volume of Luke’s work, the Acts of the Apostles and the early church.

–Deacon Rick Stachura

Historical Background on Matthew’s Gospel

Deacon Gary Hoover provides background information to help us better understand this gospel:

The Gospel of Matthew is the first of the three Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament – the others are Mark and Luke. According to theologians, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written after the Gospel of Mark. Matthew uses much of the content from Mark’s Gospel, similar to the writer of Luke’s Gospel. The Gospel of Matthew was written around the year 70, after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (something to remember when reading references to the temple). The writer was thought to be Matthew the tax collector, but scholars believe he may have written some form of the Gospel, but not the version we have today. The frequent references to specific text of the Old Testament indicate that it was written for a Jewish/Christian community. The writer uses the Gospel text to define the identity of Christ to the early Jewish/Christian community and to reach out to the Jewish community. The words of the Gospel of Matthew are just as relevant today as they were for the early Church and its converts.