Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Acts of the Apostles, Day 2 Readings

The Conversion of Saul & Mission to the Gentiles 

Today's first reading tells of the conversion of Saul, usually known as Paul because that is how he signed his letters to other churches.  (Both names are the same: Paul is the Latin form of his name, while Saul is his given Hebrew name.)

Paul was educated as a Pharisee, and he was one of the leaders in opposing Christian teaching, even to the point of persecuting Christians.  During this, though, he encountered a bright light while on the road to Damascus, and he heard the voice of Jesus speak directly to him.

After this, Paul was nursed back to health -- first, it took a few days for his sight to return.  He was abandoned by his Jewish compatriots.  Two Christians, with the assurance of the Holy Spirit about Paul's true conversion, reluctantly cared for Paul and introduced him into the fledgling Christian community.  At one point, they even prevented him from being killed by the Jews.

Read Acts 9:1-31  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

The second reading describes the week when the scope of the disciples' mission changed forever.  Until this point, it was believed that Jesus' salvation was only offered to Jews -- a nation with a long covenental relationship with God.  However, one of the main Christian leaders, Peter, after a vision and through the direction of the Holy Spirit, agreed to meet with Cornelius, an Italian soldier who was seen as faithful to God despite not being born a Jew.

In meeting with Cornelius and his household, Peter realized that the story of Jesus, and the promise of Jesus, applied to them too.  More than this, he witnessed the gift of the Holy Spirit upon them, as they began speaking in tongues and he made sure that they became baptized Christians.  From this point on, anyone who believes in Jesus can become a Christian.  This change paves the way for Paul's famous evangelical mission to the Gentiles (non-Jews) around the region.

Read Acts 10:1-48  (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 6-11 today.