Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Acts of the Apostles, Day 3 Readings

Council at Jerusalem & Paul Preaches in Athens 

Today's first reading tells the first big disagreement among Christian leaders -- whether Christians needed to follow Jewish laws and customs, especially regarding circumcision.  This, evidently, was a controversy between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.

Many Christian leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss the matter.  At one point, Peter pronounced that he felt no one should put God to the test, but rather embrace and celebrate those Gentiles who were becoming Christian without putting additional qualifications for them to meet.  The council then produced a letter announcing this decision to be shared with Christian communities far and wide.

Read Acts 15:1-41  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

The second reading provides an example of how Paul approached Gentiles with teaching about Jesus Christ.  Rather than always instructing them about the long arc of Jewish history and prophecy, Paul seems to first want to meet people where they are.  No where is this clearer in Acts than when Paul preached in Athens, where he had passed an altar inscribed "To an unknown god."  Taking this as a sign of great religious fervor, that the Athenians were so eager to please the gods that they had an altar for any god they may have overlooked, Paul gave an identity to this unknown God -- the one true God, who resurrected Jesus from the dead.

Read Acts 17:16-34  (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 12-17 today.