Monday, November 30, 2015

Acts of the Apostles, Day 1 Readings

Pentecost & The First Christian Martyr 

Today's first reading tells the history-changing events on the day of Pentecost.  On that day, a few weeks after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, the power of the Holy Spirit infused the disciples.  They began telling the Gospel in words that were understood in a variety of languages.  Then Peter preached a powerful sermon, explaining how this sign (people hearing in their own languages simultaneously) was a fulfillment of prophecy, as was Jesus of Nazareth.

The experience was so powerful that some 3000 people were baptized and became Christians that day.  These people lived together, shared what they had with one another, and worshiped Jesus.  Because of this, Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the church.

Read Acts 2:1-47  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

The second reading is the story of the first Christian martyr, Stephen.  He was one of the people appointed by the twelve disciples to a leadership position in the church, and he came into conflict with certain people in the synagogue.  These people protested and asked the high council -- under the leadership of the Jewish high priest -- to place Stephen under arrest for blasphemy.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Stephen offered an impassioned defense (though one can see how it was incendiary).  Eventually, the crowd cut him off and stoned him while, in the background, a young Jewish leader named Saul (more on him later) plotted for how to arrest more of these Christian rabble rousers. 

Read Acts 6:8-8:3  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

Reading the Bible in Its Entirety

If you are planning to read the Bible in its entirety, you should read Acts 1-5 today.