Monday, May 3, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - May 3 - The Book of Acts (of Two of the Apostles)

One of my favorite college professors used to introduce his class on the Book of Acts by saying: "The Book of Acts is not all the acts of all the apostles; or all the acts of some of the apostles; or some of the acts of all the apostles; it is some of the acts of some of the apostles."

That is exactly right. And in particular, it is some of the acts of two of the apostles: Peter and Paul. In fact, an easy way to organize the Book of Acts is in two main sections, Acts 1-12 - the acts of Peter; and Acts 13-28 - the acts of Paul. At the end of Acts 12, Peter disappeared from Jerusalem after his escape from prison (Acts 12:17), and other than his speech at the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15, he is not mentioned again in the book. From Acts 13 to the end of the book, Paul is the focus of the story.

As you read the second half of the book, look for parallels between Peter's ministry and Paul's. For example, in today's reading in Acts 13, we have the first record of one of Paul's sermons, which naturally parallels the narrative of Peter's sermon in Acts 2. Each sermon has its unique characteristics, but both end up at the same spot - the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Acts 14, Paul will heal a lame man, just as Peter healed a lame man in Acts 3. And so on.

One important dimension to this similarity between Peter's preaching and miracles and Paul's is that it gave legitimacy to what Paul was doing in the minds of some of the more traditional Jews. This acceptance was not automatic for Paul, any more than it was for Peter when he went to preach to Gentiles and eat with them in Acts 10. But, if they accepted Peter's work, since Paul's work was quite similar, then they had to accept Paul.

So be on the lookout the rest of Acts for parallels with Peter, and of course, also bear in mind that both apostles share in the same kinds of experiences as did their Master.

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