New Testament History, Literature, and Theology
Session 20: Acts up to Pentecost (Acts 2)
By Dr. Ted Hildebrandt
A. “We” Passages—Second Missionary Journey
Welcome back, we’re continuing our lectures today on the book of Acts and we have done an initial survey of the structure of the book of Acts, how it moves from Peter in a Jerusalem center to Paul and an end of the earth structure Acts 1:8. We’ve looked at various things as far as Luke and the background and possibly when he’s writing of it and how it seems to get the words and comparisons of Peter and Paul and we’ve been through that. What I’d like to do now is look at: did Luke really write this book? And I’d like to focus more on Luke and Luke’s recording of himself in this book a little bit. We’ve got what are called the “we passages” and there’s certain places where he says they did this and they did that. Luke in Acts 1 says “in their language,” well it’s clear he’s not Jewish when he says “in their language.” So he uses the third person there. But in certain places in the book of Acts it is “they did this they did that, and then all of a sudden he changes it, “we did this, and we did that.” So you can kind of trace where Luke was with Paul as a result of these “we” passages. So these are called the “we passages” and there are three of them that I want to develop in particular in the Second Missionary Journey of the apostle Paul. Paul went on the First Missionary Journey into the center of Turkey. The Second Missionary Journey, he leaves Barnabas and John Mark. They go to Cyprus and Paul picks up Silas and they basically go through Turkey, up to northwestern Turkey. He wants to go to Ephesus but the Spirit takes him north around the province of Asia. Instead, they go up to a place called Troas, which is just south of Troy up in the northwestern Turkey. Troas is where the “we’s” start. So in chapter 16 for example, this is on the Second Missionary Journey, “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia, Galatia having been kept.” And then it goes on, “when they came to the border Myasia they tried to enter. After Paul had seen the vision, this is the Macedonian vision: “come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. “When they had passed, and then when you go down.” So basically, he goes from Troas over to Philippi and then you have this situation in chapter 16 with the Philippian jailer. Paul casts this demon out of a soothsaying prophesying girl, the owners lose the money on this girl because they were making money, off her was prophesying of the future Paul casted the demon out, these guys can’t make any money from this girl anymore. They get mad at Paul and so they throw him into prison.
B. “We” Passages—Third
So now, Paul’s in prison. There’s the Philippian jailer there, they’re singing in prison at night and finally an angel comes and opens the door. The Philippian jailer’s ready to kill himself and Paul gets freed and the Philippian jailer asks, “what must I do to get saved?-- great statement there. Paul responds, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”
But then what happens when Paul leaves Philippi? The “we’s” go from Troas in northern Turkey over to Philippi. Philippi is named after Philip of Macedon as we talked about earlier. But in Philippi, when he leaves Philippi then in chapter 17 it says and they passed through Antipolis and Apolonia, and they came to Thessalonica. So from Philippi he goes down to Thessalonica or modern Thessaloniki. When he goes down there the “they’s” start up again. So apparently, Luke stayed at Philippi. So from Troas to Philippi on the Second Missionary Journey and then on the Third Missionary Journey guess what happened? Paul makes his way again, through Turkey and up and over and when he hits Philippi again, all of a sudden the “we’s” start up again. So the “we’s” start up again at Philippi that Luke had stayed there and when Paul comes again the “we’s” start up. So we see that Luke is very precise in this historical record of when he’s with them and when he’s not by using these “we’s.” Then, on the Third Missionary Journey, he goes to Philippi and then the “we’s” travel with Paul all the way back to Jerusalem. When we said that Paul on the Third Missionary Journey was collecting money for the poor people in Jerusalem and so Luke is with him all the way from Philippi then back to Jerusalem. Then the two years while Paul’s in prison in Palestine Luke is there. Those are “we passages” when Paul is in prison at Caesarea. Jerusalem and then Caesarea, Luke, those are “we passages.” So Luke travels with Paul on the Second Missionary Journey, Troas to Philippi, and on the Third Missionary Journey Philippi down to Jerusalem.
C. “We” Passages—Journey to Rome with Paul
And then there’s the great chapter in chapter, Acts 27 where Paul makes an appeal to Caesar. He makes an appeal to Caesar when they were going to send him back to Jerusalem and he knew that if he was taken back to Jerusalem he’s going to get killed. They were setting up a plot. They were going to jump him and kill him on the way up to Jerusalem. So Paul knows he’s got to do something. He appeals to Caesar and says, “I’m a Roman citizen, I appeal to Caesar.” So now they’ve got to send him to Rome and so they bring in Agrippa and say, “what are we going to charge this guy with? We’re going to send him to Caesar and we’ve got to send him with some kind of charges.” So they charge him up and then send him off to Rome. When they do they send him on this boat and this boat then goes across the Mediterranean and over to Italy, to Rome. During the trip then there’s a storm that comes up and the boat capsizes. This shipwreck takes place in Acts 27 and it tells us about throwing all the goods overboard trying to lighten the ship. They’re going to start throwing prisoners overboard but Paul warns them not to do that and they end up crashing on this Isle of Malta. But this, Acts chapter 27 some people have said is one of the best ancient descriptions of voyaging on the sea that you have from the ancient world. It’s one of the best descriptions of voyaging in the early records that we have, so that’s Acts chapter 27. Paul, and by the way, Luke is with them, those are also “we passages.” In other words, Luke goes from Philippi to Jerusalem and he’s with Paul two years in Palestine and when Paul goes to Rome Luke is with him those are “we passages.”
So, and then what’s an interesting passage here too is and this is after the book of Acts, this is after the book of Acts in 2 Timothy 4:11. This is when Paul first came to Rome, probably around AD 63 or thereabouts and 2 Timothy is after this is more like AD 67. This is like five years later and 2 Timothy 4:11. It says this during Paul’s what they call the Second Roman Imprisonment. Paul was probably interred in Rome twice. The early time in the book of Acts is about AD 63 and then apparently he turns later about AD 67 or 68. 2 Timothy chapter 4:10 says, with Paul speaking “for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Only Luke is with me. “So here’s Paul in the Second Rome Imprisonment. Apparently Luke is still with him at that point. Luke is a doctor, possibly taking care of Paul. “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you,” he speaking to Timothy and he says, “Timothy, get Mark and bring him.” Remember John Mark, remember the rift that had between Paul and John Mark. Paul, at the end of his life, calls for John Mark to come “because he is helpful for me and my ministry. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” So Paul is asking for his coat, apparently it’s cold there. So he’s asking for his coat and just remember to bring the scrolls, especially the parchments. And this is a beautiful statement there in 2 Timothy 4:11 indicating that Luke is still with Paul on the Second Roman Imprisonment there. So that’s the background with Luke.
D. Luke’s Style and Theophilus
The vocabulary and style of the book of Luke and Acts are very similar. The book of Luke is written in a very classical, high style. The sentence structures are much longer, more sophisticated in the way it’s written. The book of Acts is written in the same way. Whereas Luke has hundreds of words that are what are called hapax legomena where used only one time, very rare words. Acts, also was written in a very sophisticated style, very literary style, and a classical kind of style. So Luke and Acts are very similar. Both books are written to Theophilus. He is called most excellent Theophilus and Luke chapter 1 verses 1-4 writes about it to this and identifies him as most excellent Theophilus. Acts chapter 1 also identifies him as Theophilus. Some people think this is more of a nickname or a cognomen. They break up the word. You can see the word theo here means God. Philos, is like Philadelphia, the city of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly [adelphos] love. Philos mean “love.” So this Theophilus means “lover of God” So some people think that these books are written to anyone who is lover of God. The problem is when he says, “most excellent Theophilus,” it seems to be more of a title. He’s most excellent Theophilus, that is, some government official, some person of dignity and his name is Theophilus. So I take this as a real name and that his position is “most excellent Theophilus.” I think actually that Luke is writing this for the purpose of getting Paul out of jail and Paul’s got to go before Caesar. So he’s writing about Paul saying, “Theophilus, can you help this guy out here, here’s the story of Paul. I’m telling you this so you’re going to know all the background of this when you go to defend him.”
E. Why Did Luke Write Acts? Catechetical and History
Now why did
why did Luke write the book of Acts? I just want to make some suggestions here
and we’ll move through this fairly quickly. Catechetical instructions for
Theophilus. Theophilus may be a young believer and Luke writes the story of Jesus
and tells about the stories so that he knows about the historical background of
Jesus and then also he knows the background of Peter and Paul and the early
church. So what is the catechetical? Today you learn catechism. If I said to
you what is the chief end of man? Most people who studied the Westminster
confession which, I grew up confessing: the chief end of man is to glorify God and
enjoy him forever. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in his
being wisdom… We learned these catechisms when we’re children. The Westminster
Catechism, some student in class today mentioned the Heidelberg Confession. So
you have these confessions and the confessions are used largely to train young people
into what it is we believe. What it is we believes and so this catechetical purpose
is that Luke and Acts could have been written to basically train Theophilus
into what Christianity was all about. The catechetical function for Theophilus
is not just in defense of Paul but for that reason.
A second one, it’s a history. Acts is a history book but it’s not a history of the whole church. It’s not a complete history of the whole church. It really focuses on the apostle Paul. Thomas, the whole thing that Thomas did, Philip and many of these other apostles are not mentioned after the first few chapters of the book of Acts. The apostles die out basically and they spread out and go all over the place and then the thing focuses on the three missionary journeys of the apostle Paul. So it’s not a complete history. While it is a history of the early church it’s seen through the eyes of this Pauline kind of focus of what we’ve noticed before.
F. Luke’s Apologetic Concerns and Christian Persecution—Atheists accusation
some would take the book of Acts and see in it this apologetic against the Jews.
The Jews are always, wherever Paul goes, raising Cain against him and
persecution. They’re stirring up crowds, mobs and riots against Paul. It’s
largely done with Jewish people and I think in a certain sense that there’s an
attempt in the book of Acts to discredit the Jews. It is showing that these
guys were really just trouble makers and therefore don’t blame Paul for all
this chaos. Paul was just doing his thing and it had nothing to do with and
his point wasn’t to make riots and mobs and this kind of havoc. This was the Jewish
response because of their jealousy toward the apostle Paul and his power and
his teaching of the ways of Christ. So there’s an apologetic purpose that
defends the apostle Paul/
As we mentioned, why were Christians persecuted in the early church? I think this is important to realize: Why were Christian persecuted in the early church? A lot of times when persons are persecuted, charges can be brought against a person and the person can be absolutely innocent of those charges. But just having made the charges and putting it in newspapers, the person is condemned already. The person is condemned already just by making the allegations against the person. It’s kind of like the people make a decision on the person without a trial with just the allegation. So here were some of the allegations made against the Christians. Does it matter whether they were correct or not? It doesn’t matter because what happened is Christians got killed for this reason and here Christians got persecuted on this place and all these things were incorrect. One of the reasons why Christians were persecuted is they were considered to be atheists. Now, why would the Christians who worship Jesus and God the father, why would they be considered to be atheists? It was because they didn’t worship the gods of stone and silver that were made at Ephesus and other places. So they were considered atheists, they worshipped a God that you can’t see. They worship, they pray to the thin air. There’s nobody out there. So therefore the Christians were atheists and largely the people just did not understand that they very strongly believed in God but not in the gods of stone and silver. And so one of the early church fathers I forget who it was but they were condemning him he was being condemned to die as an atheist. What he did was he turned to the crowd and he said, “Yes, yes ok the atheists. Away with the atheists,” and he pointed to them as that they were the ones that were the atheists not him. So he said, “away with the atheists,” pointing to them and reversing the accusation.
I should mention two other things: one is that the early church persecution in the first century, Dr. Dave Mathewson brings this up in his lectures so well, and basically what he notes it that this Roman persecution from the Roman Caesar’s really didn’t happen much in the first century. In the first century much of the persecution was by local potentates in their little towns trying to please Caesar and show their loyalty to Caesar. And so what they would do was they would persecute Christians in other groups that had any kind of descent going in order to show their loyalty to Caesar but they weren’t these empire wide persecutions that there would be later on with the Diocletian and some of these other and later massive persecutions in the empire. So you need to kind of think about it Christians weren’t always being persecuted and a lot of it was at the local level by the local little dignitaries who would do this rather than a universal scope of the Roman empire. I think it is important to understand this.
G. Luke’s Apologetic Concerns and Christian Persecution—Incest and Cannibals
Now why were the Christians persecuted? They were persecuted for being atheists they were also persecuted for being incestuous. Incestuous? Now you say what was the deal with this incestuous thing? They married their brothers and sisters. They married their brothers and sisters. And so it was a close kind of community where you married brothers and sisters. Now, we know brothers and sisters it wasn’t incest. When we address people in the community as brothers and sisters and we’re not that they were related to them physically that’s the way they were called.
This was another, let me just bring this up as far that we just pointed out that the roman massive persecutions it was more local opposition going down and also in terms of the persecution of Christians as long as Christianity was under Judaism, Judaism had a special dispensation in the Roman government. The Roman government basically let the Jews be the Jews. Now sometimes they threw the Jews out of Rome and you’re going to see Priscilla and Aquila going down through Corinth. They get kicked out because of the Jewish persecution. But it wasn’t the Jews basically, the Romans just put up with them and basically just allowed them to be themselves and they realized they weren’t going to convert them. The Jews had a special place and were given a special role in the empire and weren’t forced to do some of the things that the other people were forced to do. Christianity then was a sect of Judaism. Therefore Christianity, when they hid under Judaism and it was like it was a different sect, the Pharisees and Sadducees. So you had the people of the way or you had the Nazarenes, as they were called, just to be another sect of Judaism. So it’s kind of like, those guys are just Jews let them do their thing, it’s just a sect of Judaism. When Christianity pulled away from Judaism and there was a bifurcation and a pulling away from Judaism and Christianity stood by itself then some real persecution came because they weren’t hidden under the umbrella of Judaism.
They became a separate religion and then there were. A lot of times, too, the Christian group would have their meetings and it was viewed by the Romans as this kind of secret meeting. You never know they do these things in these secret meetings and so they were alleged in these secret meetings that they were cannibals and they were Christians these people were cannibals. They drink their master’s blood and they eat his body and this is my body which is broken for you and they eat his body and they drink his blood. And so they said the early Christians were cannibals and therefore these cannibals and atheists we should wipe them out. Why? Because basically communion was misunderstood and they took it as eating and drinking his blood and eating his body and so they were cannibals.
So these are three reasons why the early church, now we say those are totally bogus reasons. But you learn pretty soon in politics that it doesn’t matter a lot of times whether something is true or false or not because it’s the allegation, and so you make this allegation over and over and over again, if you say the same lie over and over again pretty soon people believe the lie. If you say it over and over again and you state it like it’s fact, pretty soon the people believe it. These guys are atheists; they’re cannibals; they had these secret meetings they marry their brothers and sisters. These guys are incestuous and therefore we should rid the earth of them. So Christians were persecuted and so the book of Acts is then written in a way that shows, “O, no, these things are wrong.”
H. Why Did Luke Write it? Missionary Concerns
There’s some missionary concern and we’re working through this acrostic CHAMP up on top. There’s a missionary concern in the book and in this ties back to the Abrahamic covenant. The book of Acts shows that gospel is spreading, that Abraham’s descendants are spreading out and taking the gospel to the whole world. Abraham is being a blessing to all nations. So there’s this missionary movement to all people. This has to do, and you can see it pretty plainly with the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes four times in the book of Acts on four different groups of people and you can see it. It’s kind of interesting how the Spirit comes.
Acts 2 is probably the most famous, at Pentecost. The spirit comes down at Pentecost and comes with fire around the guys and the wind blows and the Spirit has them speak in tongues. We’ll talk about that in a few minutes here about the speaking in tongues and the miracle. Pentecost is the coming of the Spirit. Largely on Jewish people at Pentecost all the Jews from around the world were supposed to go to Jerusalem and so you’ve got Jews from all around the world there. Then there is the speaking in tongues and the coming of the Spirit at the feast of Pentecost. So that will be the first time in Acts 2. The second coming of the Spirit is recorded on the Samaritans in Acts chapter 8 verse 17. So there’s a movement in Acts 2 the Spirit comes on the Jews. In Acts 8 it comes on the Samaritans and you know you can see what’s going on there. It’s moving from Jews to Samaritans, it’s broadening out chapter 8 verse 17. Then in chapter 10 verses 44 and following, the Spirit finally in comes on Cornelius. You remember Cornelius was the token or representative Gentile. So now it’s moved from the Jews, the Holy Spirit comes through the Jews and the Holy Spirit comes in chapter 8 on the Samaritans, and then in chapter 10 the Holy Spirit comes on the Gentiles. And so between the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles that’s pretty much everybody in chapter 10 with Cornelius right?
But no, there’s one more group and in chapter 19 verses1-6 in that area Paul lays hands on people and the Spirit comes on some of John the Baptist’s disciples. This is really a fascinating passage because what you have is and you can imagine this happening, these people came to Jerusalem, they saw John the Baptist; they went down and they were baptized in the Jordan River. They know the Baptists. John, they then go home into Turkey or Ephesus. Then Paul shows up and declares Jesus Christ to them and they said who is Jesus Christ? We have never heard of him. They had only heard of John the Baptist and they were given a baptism of repentance and John the Baptist told them about one who was to come but they didn’t know how. So they were baptized by John, they repented and then they went home. So when Paul shows up and says, “Jesus,” they say, “what? We’ve never even heard about the Holy Spirit. We haven’t even heard about Jesus and stuff.” So Paul declares Christ to them. You can say, “Well, in our day and age we just get on the internet and you see everybody in the world knows.” But you see back then those people traveled and then they came back and all they knew is John the Baptist but they didn’t know about Jesus. You say, “Well, why didn’t somebody email them or something?” They didn’t have that kind of technology so things traveled slowly and these regions were isolated, some of them. So, Paul shows up and he declares Jesus to them, tells them about the Holy Spirit, lays hands on them and sure enough the Holy Spirit comes on them in Acts 19. These are some of John the Baptist’s old disciples. These are some of John the Baptists disciples and the Spirit comes on them. They speak in tongues just like Acts 2. So the Holy Spirit comes four times and you can see then as the Spirit moves from the Jews to the Samaritans to the Gentiles and to some of John the Baptist’s disciples. You get this missionary flow out as the Holy Spirit spreads into these various groups and that are talked about in the book of Acts.
I. Why Did Luke Write?—Paul’s Defense and Speeches
Then we have Paul’s defense. This is the one that I’ve kind of mentioned several times here that I think is our P, Paul’s defense. I think Theophilus is “most excellent” Theophilus, Luke is writing both the gospel of Luke and Acts to show, for Theophilus both for his own benefit of learning about Jesus and the church but also focusing on Paul saying, “Most excellent Theophilus, Paul’s going to go before Caesar can you give him a hand here. Here’s the background, this is why there’s persecution.”
So it’s very interesting too, when Luke does that. Notice how he records history. He wants Theophilus to understand about the history so what does he do? He records it in speeches and so you’ve got several speeches going down. You’ve got Paul giving like nine speeches, you’ve got Peter giving nine speeches. So what’s happening is Luke is recording these speeches so it’s kind of like you want to hear the actual words of the apostles this is like an eyewitness type recording. Here is actually what they said. Here’s a speech from Peter, here’s actually nine speeches from Peter. Here are nine speeches from Paul, if Paul’s going to be accused let him be accused based on his own words. So you give the actual speakers um when you watch the news media it’s very interesting. Sometimes, when you watch political people and you can tell the bias of the news media because they will have a certain person up and what will happen is the news media will not let the person themselves speak, but a commentator will interpret and tell you what the person’s saying. So what will happen is, they will have the body shot, the video of the person but they’ll have the audio from the commentator and not letting the person speak in his own words. You see how tricky that is? That way they can spin it whatever way the commentator wants to spin it. He doesn’t have to deal with the real words of the real person. On the other hand, you see other news media they give you long segments of the words of the very person and so you can hear the words and maybe 4 or 5 sentences why did they give 4 or 5 sentences so you can’t pull it out of context. So you get the context of what the persons trying to actually say and good new media will allow the person to speak in their own words and pick it up. So Luke, when he writes history, he gives you Peter’s words, nine sermons. Paul’s words nine speeches. So there are twenty first person speeches that are given in the book of Acts. And one writer that we read for this book of Acts went through the speeches of the book of Acts and noticed similarities between Peter’s speeches and Peter’s Epistle. Between Paul and what Paul wrote. And so it’s very interesting, Luke seems to be very accurate and having the actual words of these speakers. Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 is a classic statement and so when they question Theophilus about Paul he knows the speeches he will know what’s been said and word for word almost in some cases.
J. When Did Luke Write? Paul’s Trial and Temple Destruction
When did Luke write? And now this is talking about the date of it and I’m not really into the dates of a lot of this. When I took my New Testament/Old Testament courses people made me memorize all these dates and I just forgot them so there’s only a few dates that I really want you to know. The Old Testament do you remember the Abraham was 2000 BC David was 1000, 586 they went to Babylon and you know you’ve got those major kind of dates there’s 2000, 1000, 586. In the New Testament basically the big date that I want you to know is AD 70. In AD 70 the temple is destroyed and that’s a big date even for the Jews until this day. This was the destruction of the second temple by Titus and the Romans. But why, are we suggesting the book of Acts was written before AD 63? And this is coming from a guy named F. F. Bruce who’s a phenomenal New Testament scholar but they’re saying that basically the ad terminus for this is before AD 63. Now why they say that is largely because of two silences. Two things are not mentioned in the book. These things would have been mentioned if it were written after AD 63 it would have been mentioned. The first is: there’s no outcome of Paul’s trial in Rome. What happened to Paul? Paul went to Rome. We had that huge chapter 27 where they made the ship and the ship goes over and gets shipwrecked on the Isle of Malta. Then he makes his way up to Rome and he’s in prison in Rome. In Acts we don’t know what happened to Paul. What’s the outcome of Paul’s trial? The book of Acts all of a sudden ends very abruptly and that’s it. It doesn’t tell us what happened to the apostle Paul. Did his case, was it a thumbs up or a thumbs down? What happened to Paul? We don’t know from the book of Acts. And if the book of Acts was written after AD 65, 68, or 70 we certainly would have been told what happened to Paul’s case. Again, I think that we don’t know what happened to Paul’s case because the book ended abruptly because Luke sent the book to Theophilus saying, “Theophilus, can you influence the outcome of Paul’s case?” And so therefore AD 63 would be a time for the outcome of Paul’s case which is not mentioned or the mention of his death. Paul dies about AD 68 after the Second Roman Imprisonment. But the death of Paul is nowhere to be seen. Paul’s waiting for trial and then boom the book ends. So you know it has to be before AD 68.
Again no big deal and I’m not into the whole dating thing but there’s no mention of the destruction of the temple in AD 70. If the Jewish temple were destroyed, you would think that that would be mentioned in the book as there’s so much in the book of Acts about the Jews and things there’s no mention of Titus, the Romans going in and destroying the temple and leveling the second temple. The leveling of the second temple in AD 70 is very big to Jews. Even to this day, I think they commemorate the destruction of the second temple. The second temple is destroyed and this this is a big deal. For the Jewish people when the second temple is destroyed, the sacrificial system the priesthood is shattered. It’s a big deal and it’s not even mentioned. If the book of Acts was written after that you’d think it would have been mentioned, especially when the book starts in Jerusalem and Pentecost happens in Jerusalem. So much of the book is in Jerusalem it would have actually made a good, if I were writing the book, you would start with Jerusalem and you end with the destruction of Jerusalem. This would make a perfect ending for a book and for literary purposes. But again it does not even mention it. So I would say suggest, then, as many would, that it was written before then AD 70, the destruction of Jerusalem.
K. When Did Luke Write? A Favorable View of Rome
Here’s another argument for AD 63 date rather than after AD 64. There was an emperor named Nero. When I say Nero a lot of people think back. I was taught Nero basically burned down part of Rome and then what Nero did was he had to blame it on somebody. He burned part of Rome down because he wanted to remodel; he wanted kind of a public works renovation; he wanted to renovate part of Rome. He couldn’t do it so then he burned the place down and then he blamed it on the Christians. You see the Christians are cannibals, atheists, incestuous and so he blames it on the Christians. Nero, at that time, it was about AD 64, that Nero lit up Rome by putting Christians on poles dipping them in flammable material and lighting them on fire and these people then their bodies burned up. It was really cruel wicked persecution that Nero did. Before AD 64, we should note this, Nero wasn’t beating up on Christians and things it was only after the fire that he blamed it on the Christians. So you’ve got this thing where Nero is just a regular, run of the mill Caesar. Then after AD 64 that’s when the Neronian persecution comes, that’s when the wickedness really starts. Nero becomes this really monstrous, evil person going after the Christians and burning them on stands. So therefore, in other words, if Nero had done that and there had been these Christians dying like that then you would think that the book of Acts would have mentioned it.
It would have told us how Paul made out. So the suggestion is that Paul may have been released before the Neronian persecution and gotten out of there and then Paul has a period of freedom, some think that Paul went to Spain, that’s possible. Then he comes back around AD 67, 68 and that’s when he’s beheaded. Now Paul would be beheaded because he was a Roman citizen they weren’t allowed to be crucified, crucifixion was a very painful thing was of torturous death and so roman citizens could not be crucified. Peter, on the other hand, was a Jew and then Peter was also in Rome and Peter was crucified, just probably around this time in AD 64. Peter was crucified upside down. They went to crucify Peter to put him right side up and apparently the legend goes Peter said, “I am not worthy to be crucified like my master,” and so they crucified him upside down which has got to be incredibly bad. Needless to say, Paul about AD 68, Peter probably AD 64 both die in Rome.
So what we’re saying is that because Paul’s death is not narrated, because the temple destruction is not narrated, and because the Neronian persecution is not mentioned that the book probably is before AD 64 so probably AD 63. Paul’s trial, he’s then released and the book of Acts ends before that because we don’t know the outcome of Paul’s trial. So those are just some dating things there. The important thing that I want you to know is the destruction of the temple by Titus in AD 70. That’s a really important thing.
L. The Difference Between Normative and Non-Normative (Descriptive/
Now what I’d like to do is move to a more philosophical and more step back off the book of Acts and ask some bigger questions about historical documents and how does history and theology, how do you put those two together. Can you take things from the book of Acts and apply them today one for one. In other words, is today the same as the book of Acts and how do you work history? Are things the same today as they were back then? Acts is a historical document. What is the difference between historical and normative material? What’s normative material? Normative material is when you’ve got a command like say and the Ten Commandments. It says: thou shall do no murder, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal--that’s normative material. Moses said it back in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Are the Ten Commandments still invoked today? You shouldn’t lie, you shouldn’t steal, you shouldn’t covet, you shouldn’t murder people, you should honor your parents. Those commands are normative they were given back then in chapter 20 of Exodus and chapter 5 of Deuteronomy. They go for all time, that’s normative material. It’s should and ought type material, this is what you should and then this is what you ought to do.
But there’s other material in history that is a one-of-a-kind. Moses splits the Red Sea or the Reed Sea. Moses comes up in the Red Sea parts, and he goes across then pharaoh comes after him and the Red Sea collapses on him and his jolly Rogers go down with that. So, we come to the Red Sea it’s not going to split for us that was one thing that happened back there. It was a one off event. A historical event isn’t necessarily normative. A historical event isn’t necessarily normative. Manna came down from heaven to feed people. Moses strikes a rock and water comes out. Is that normative, for all time? Even for Moses he strikes the rock one time and its good and water comes out. The second time he strikes the water and God says no I wanted you to speak to the rock that time. So the second time it was to be different and Moses is condemned for that second time. Another way to say this is the indicative response versus the imperative. And this is kind of coming from Greek grammar. The indicative verb is statement of what is. So Johnny went to the store. Johnny went to the basketball game after the store and Johnny went out to the movies. Then Johnny came home and went to bed and got up the next day. Those are statements of fact just telling “Johnny did this, Johnny did that.” That’s called the indicative and indicative is where you state what happened, what happened, what happened. The imperative is Johnny should go to the store because his mother is out of food. Jonny should go to the basketball game because he’s part of the team. Johnny, you don’t go out partying after the basketball game. That’s an imperative, you’re commanding somebody. What’s the difference between the imperative, the command, and the indicative, the statement of fact. Well the statement affect you may or may not do the same thing. In other words, the historical is just telling you what happened. It doesn’t mean to say that you need to do the same thing. With the imperative you’ve got a command but even some of the commands are you only do it one time. That kind of thing. So, the difference between the indicative and the imperative, is the record of what happened versus what should happen. The difference between “is” versus “ought.” The difference between what is and what ought.
M. The Normative and the Non-Normative in Acts
And so what I’m saying is you’ve got certain things that happen in the book of Acts that I don’t think are meant to happen more than once. They’re historical events. They happen once and that’s the way it is. Jesus died on the cross. That doesn’t mean Jesus should die on the cross every year after that Jesus dies, it’s over, it’s done. Jesus rose from the dead it’s a one-off event. And so, for example, in the book of Acts it says, “tarry in Jerusalem” or “wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes.” What does that mean? We should take all of our classes at Gordon College and we should go over to Jerusalem and we should wait. The Bible says, “to tarry in Jerusalem, wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes.” So we should go to Jerusalem and wait until the Spirit comes and there we can have this class in the New Testament in Jerusalem wouldn’t that be a great? I think we should do that. I don’t think that’s what the New Testament was meaning. New Testament was meaning the apostles were to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit came on them and then, in chapter 2, the next chapter, Pentecost happens, the Spirit comes, and they go out unto all the world. So that verse that says, “wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes” that’s not meant for us that was for them. That’s not for us. So you can’t take stuff from a historical document and say we should do that just because they did that. You’ve got to make some distinctions there. Ananias and Sapphira they come in and they say, “We sold all our goods and gave everything we had, you know we brought it in here we laid it at the apostles feet this is everything we sold, we were giving to you.” Well, that was a lie. God smites Ananias. God smites Sapphira. Does that mean that if you tell somebody you’re going to support them on a missions trip and you don’t do it for some reason that you lied to the Holy Spirit or whatever then God’s going to come down and smite you dead? I don’t think so. So you have got to be very careful about saying this. Ananias and Sapphira did die, that doesn’t mean that should happen to everybody every time.
Should we wait for the Holy Spirit? You go into Lane cafeteria for the food and you wait and say I’m going to wait and then the Holy Spirit’s going to come and give us a message. “Come over to Tavilla, the dorm, and help us.” Well, do you remember Paul had a vision and the vision said come over to Macedonia and help us. You’ve got to wait for a vision from God telling you to come over to Tavilla and have a Bible study over there or something? No.
So Paul picked up vipers on the Isle of Malta and he gets crashed and there he picks up a snake. The snake bites him and it’s a poisonous snake. All the people think that he’s a felon, he’s a bad person that’s why the snake bit him. When nothing happens then all of a sudden they say, “Wow, this guy is incredible. The poisonous snake bit him and nothing happened.” Question, does that mean you should go around picking up rattlesnakes and say, “Paul picked up rattlesnakes, so I can pick up rattlesnakes or whatever poisonous snakes and it won’t hurt me because it didn’t hurt Paul.” No, I don’t think that’s the point. The same thing could be said of the Red Sea. When you go to the Red Sea it’s not going to part for you. That’s something that was a one off that happened in history and you can’t redo history. And I guess that’s my point. You can’t necessarily take all historical events and map them into kind of a universal theology for all time. Those were particular, they were events that happened in time and are not meant to be universalized. They’re describing what is and what was not necessarily what should be for all time. So I just want to put this background. How do you interpret historical material? How do you interpret historical material? It’s different than doctrinal material. When Paul says you should have the fruits of the flesh, you should not have the fruits of the flesh, the vices, but you should have the virtues, the fruits of the Spirit love, joy, peace, and long suffering. You should have those things. Yes, those are universals. Those are meant to be universal and to be mapped on and applied to all time. But the fact that Paul went and was three years in Arabia when he first became a Christian doesn’t mean that all Christians should go to Arabia and spend time in the desert like that. It’s not necessarily true.
So what I’m trying to do is say descriptive verses prescriptive. What part of the Bible is prescriptive that it gives us what we should do. Other parts are just descriptive, it describes what they did. Descriptive describes what they did not saying that we should do the same thing. Jesus walked on water what’s that mean? Should I be walking on water? That doesn’t work. So, Jesus did that it. It was his uniqueness and that’s descriptive. You describe Jesus walking on the water. You’re not saying all people should walk on the water. There’s a difference between descriptive and prescriptive and you have got to make those distinctions. So examples of non-normative material, and that’s what we’ve been going over: walking on water and turning water to wine, those types of things. They’re one off things that happened historically.
N. How Do You Tell What is Historical: Then = Now
Now, how do you tell what is historical and what is to be a universal principle? How do you relate historical stuff to the universals, to universal principles. I want to look at basically four and maybe five of the approaches to this type of problem and then we’ll get into Acts 2. First of all there are some people that say, “the then equals the now.” In other words, as it was in the book of Acts, so it is now. The then equals the now. Therefore Paul picked up a snake and it bit him. We pick up a snake and it bites us, we as Christians, we shouldn’t go down and get poisoned by the snake. As they did miracles back then, go to a lame man get up and walk, “silver or gold have I none, get up walk.” We should be able to do miracles and things like that as well today. And so this is the “then equals the now.” I let me just tell you I have a real problem with this approach. You can’t take history in the Bible and map it onto the now one for one--things happen. The Red Sea parted back then it’s not going to part again for you. You can’t go for the “then equals the now” it doesn’t work. When we’re in northern Indiana I taught for over twenty years in Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. It was a wonderful place. There was a guy who taught there for a little bit his name was Hobart Freeman. He’s actually written one of the best books written on the prophets. This guy was really smart, really into the Bible, wrote a whole book on the prophets and he’s superb. He got involved with--and this is in kind of the 60’s and 70’s, he got involved in some things where he started believing in healing a charismatic healing. What happened was then some people in the church, they didn’t really go to doctors because they believed if you had enough faith then Jesus would heal you. And, by the way, I believe God can heal. I mean there’s no question God can heal but there’s also a need for doctors. Jesus, by the way, said, “they that are whole need not a physician but those who are sick need a physician.” So Jesus said that those who were sick need a physician, a doctor and that was way back then. When somebody’s sick let them go to the doctor. But Hobart Freeman and his “Glory Barn” what happened then is they wouldn’t take babies to the doctor and actually there were big problems. If you don’t take a baby to the doctor when a baby needs a doctor’s care the baby can die.
He was consistent however and he got a scratch on his leg, from what I’m told. He got a cut on his leg and it got infected. Now, what’s the problem with infection? You say, “hey, you go get some antibiotics and it takes the infection away.” You got what three days or so and the infection’s down. But what happens if you don’t treat the infection? When you just pray to God and say, “God, heal my leg. This thing is getting infected. Now please, heal me.” A doctor can heal that easily. Well, I mean 24 hours with the medicine two or three days probably you’ve got to allow the infection to be done but there are strong antibiotics we have today.
He wouldn’t go to a doctor and so because he was just going to pray for being healed the infection turned into gangrene. Now what’s the problem with gangrene? Gangrene gets much more serious. You get gangrene in your leg and they’ve got to cut off your leg. People have had diabetes and have lost legs and limbs. You get gangrene and they have to cut it off. He gets gangrene in the leg, you can still go to the doctor and they can take the leg off or below the knee or wherever. You get gangrene and you don’t go to a doctor and it gets worse and nobody cuts off the gangrene and it hits your heart and that, you’re dead. And that’s exactly what happened. He trusted God and prayed to God. A doctor could have solved it so easily and he ends up dying from it. That ended a man’s life.
So what I’m saying is you have got to be careful. You’ve got to be careful the “then isn’t the now.” You can’t just pray and you’ll be healed. And you’ll say “the prayer of the righteous man,” well what about the Bible stuff. But Jesus said, “the whole need not a physician but those that are sick need the physician.” If you’re sick go see a doctor. So I guess I take a both/and approach. You get sick, you need to see a doctor and you also need to pray. I think many of us here, for example, have been praying. There’s a faculty member here who’s very beloved who has just contracted cancer and there’s a lot of us praying for him almost on a daily basis. We pray for God’s healing, we also pray for God’s working in his life and, so he think about the end of life and, we’re not God, we don’t control those things. God may choose to spare him and God may choose to call him home. So what I’m saying is you’ve got to be very careful the “then isn’t equal to the now,” you can’t demand all these miracles from God. You’re got to be careful with that. You’ve got to use your head. So the “then equals the now” this can lead to problems because it doesn’t see the difference from the descriptive and the prescriptive. It doesn’t see the difference between history and ethically normative that’s saying this is what you should do. This is what is, this is what should and they don’t see the difference between the is and the should and that’s critical.
A second approach goes in the exact opposite way. It says the descriptive historical stuff is all gone and the prescriptive stuff is what we need to do, the fruits of the spirit, those types of things such as the Ten Commandments. So what it says is the historical stuff is over. The book of Acts is done. God did all these miracles back in the book of Acts to confirm Scripture, a lot of Scripture wasn’t written by then but anyways to confirm Scripture or to affirm the apostles and, granted that was a big part of it. But they said basically the “then does not equal the now.” So they separate the “then and the now” so all this historical stuff has ceased. These guys are called cessationists. Because they believe then that the miracles that God worked have ceased. The speaking in tongues has ceased. The miracle healings have ceased. We now have Scripture and so they will very much say we have the word of God now and therefore we don’t need the healings and the speaking in tongues and all the revelation, the prophets, and all that kind of stuff. We don’t need that anymore because we have Scripture. So they are called cessationists. I think the problem with that is that it makes too much of a bifurcation between the historical, what is, and what ought to be. A lot of times, Jesus gives a sermon one at a time but he says what? You know, “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Well, I think what Jesus is telling us it’s in a historical context but he’s giving us principles that apply to all time. So sometimes what you get is the history and the normative and the non-normative are mixed together in history and you have both of them and you can’t just separate the historical from the normative. You can’t separate it like that. It doesn’t come apart that easily. So this approach I even hate using the word dispensational because most of the dispensationalists, you look at a school like Dallas Seminary, they’re way beyond this kind of simplistic bifurcation. Most all the people there realize the complexities of the relation to a historical document to the normative so I think these are arguments that are for a while back.
O. Epistles versus Acts/Gospels
Some people take the epistles and they say basically what you’ve got to do is the Pauline epistles give us what is normative and that should be taken as normative over the Gospels and Acts. The Gospels and Acts tell us history and so I’ve heard one person, for example, in Sunday school class I was sitting in saying basically the way you interpret the Bible is Romans is one lens and Galatians is another lens. So what you’ve got is Romans and Galatians and that’s how you interpret the whole Bible through the lens of Romans and Galatians. And I look at that and I say you’ve got to be kidding me. Number one: do we privilege certain books over other books like that in the Bible? I thought the whole Bible was the word of God? So I take a more canonical approach, you have the whole Scripture. By the way, how did Paul learn it? You start with Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus and you work your way through the Bible. That’s why, at Gordon, for example, we do Old Testament and a New Testament and one provides the background for the other. We don’t try to privilege things there’s an organic unity there. We want to appreciate the whole and not privilege and say, “Well, you need to give these two special places.” When I’ve heard people say this kind of thing and what I want to say is, “no, actually, Exodus 20 is in the Old Testament historical narrative. And it is the Ten Commandments and those Ten Commandments in the history are normative. The normative and history are mixed at that point so you’ve got to be careful about this. We take the epistles more than the Acts and the Gospels approach. That’s having a, what they call having “a canon in a canon.” In other words you privilege certain books, like Romans and Galatians, over other books.
Actually the truth is that different churches will do this. Certain churches live in the Sermon on the Mount and everything in the Bible comes back to the Sermon on the Mount. All they know is the Sermon on the Mount. And everything comes back to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Well, the problem with that is that life and the Bible is more complex than the Sermon on the Mount. So, yeah, I want to affirm that the Sermon on the Mount is one of the greatest teachings ever given. But you’ve got to remember this book of Psalm. You’ve got to remember the book of Revelation; you’ve got to remember the book of Acts and things aren’t the same as the Sermon on the Mount. Life is more complex than that. God gave us a whole book. He didn’t just give us the Sermon on the Mount. So you’ve got to know God’s whole truth in order to understand. You learn the whole so you can put the pieces in context.
Acts as a historical document has us distilling principles from the book of Acts, and this is the approach that I like. It is basically realizing that Acts is giving us a history of the early church. But we distill principles, universal principles from the book of Acts. So, for example, should we pray? The early church prayed and the house was shaken. Should we be people of prayer? They, the apostles, were people of prayer. We should be people of prayer. The early church was generous and helping with open heart but was their own decision to help the poor. Should we be generous in helping the poor? Yes, we should. So you distill principles out of it and, by the way, is that the same way when we talked about Deuteronomy in Old Testament class, taking the law and the Torah. How do you take the law and apply it to today? You look at the deep principles that are taught in the history and the deep principles then, and the deep structure level apply to all time. And so, I think this methodology helps us more but then you’ve got to sort through things because there’s certain things that are just historical particulars, just for that time and there are other things coming out of those historical particulars that give you these more universal principles.
P. Background to Pentecost and the Feasts of Israel
Now, what I’d like to do is work a little bit here on setting up a discussion of the miracles that happened at Pentecost and the events that happened at Pentecost. And so, let me just in order to start this, just begin by reading Acts 2 about the Pentecostal experience. Now, there are a lot of churches actually that as we said that focus only on Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount. But other churches that only do the book of Revelation and they’re always talking about prophecy, prophecy in the future and, is the antichrist coming before or after the tribulation or is Christ coming before in the middle or after the tribulation period? When does the rapture happen? Are you going to be left behind? We have all this, rhetoric out of the book of Revelation. Some people get into it and all they can see is, tribulation, “O that’s going to be terrible. They’re going to put chips in your brain and then your hands stamped with the mark of the Beast.” They get all upset about things because they have only studied that. You say, “wait, wait, wait.” The book of Revelation is in the Bible I think we all need to study the book of Revelation and Dr. Mathewson, by the way, on these tapes here he clearly states in two or three great lectures on the book of Revelation. He’s an expert on apocalyptic literature so I think, yes, we do need to study the book of Revelation but we also need to study the book of James. We need to study the book of Romans and by justification by faith but we also need to study the book of James “faith without works is dead.” And so what happens is when you get the whole of the canon, this whole book is the word of God and to privilege one part over the other you get some problems.
Let me just read Acts 2 and some people focus I think inordinately on this chapter. But it says “there was staying in Jerusalem, God fearing Jews from every nation.” Why is that? This is the feast of Pentecost. There were three feasts that all Jews were to come to Jerusalem. Passover is around our Easter time when Christ died and was raised. Passover time, when the Israelites celebrated the coming out of Egypt across the Red Sea and the Passover feast but they were let go, the angel of death passing over, the blood putting over the doorposts and the eating of the matzo and basically the communal meal there. The Passover meal, the Passover lamb being slain and so the Passover is our Easter time, the spring. Then about fifty days later they have a feast called “Pentecost.” This is what? This is pente. Pente means five, Pentecost is fifty days later. So you have Passover, fifty days later it’s usually in the month of June or late May. Then the other feast that’s not mentioned here is the Feast of Booths, in the fall. September, the Feast of Booths, is when they would go out and remember the wilderness wandering for forty years. They’re supposed to go out and live in huts and tents basically like the Israelites did in their forty years of wandering. But this feast of Pentecost was basically the end of the wheat and barley harvest time in the spring. Passover would begin the wheat and barley harvest and then Pentecost would end the harvest of the grains. In the fall you have the feast of the olives, figs and grapes. The fruits are in the fall but in the spring they harvest the grains, the wheat and barley. So these feasts coordinate with that as well.
Q. Speaking in Tongues in Acts 2
So, the Jews were coming from all over the world for Pentecost this is probably in the month of June or thereabouts. “And when they had heard this sound a crowd came together in bewilderment because each one heard them speaking in his own language. “So these people are from all over the world and all of a sudden a guy comes from Mesopotamia and he hears these people speaking fluent Aramaic and he says, “Wow, where did these people learn this language?” You’ve got people coming from possibly Rome speaking perfect Latin and or something else from all over. He says, “Utterly amazed they ask ‘are not these men who are speaking Galileans?’” What does that mean? Are not they Galileans? That’s a slam. It means these guys are country hicks. How do these country hicks know my language? You know they’re just from Galilee they’re provincial and very isolated there. There’s no way they know my language. These guys are country hillbillies or country hicks. How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, and Egypt, and parts of Libya near Cyrene.” Do you remember Simon the Cyrene who carried the cross of Jesus? He’s from Libya. He’s from Cyrene which basically was a Moammar Gaddafi and that’s been happening lately in Libya. “Visitors from Rome, (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.” The word “tongue” is Glossolalia in Greek. The word “tongue” also means “language.” “In our own language. Amazed and perplexed they ask one another ‘what does this mean?’ Some, however, made fun of them and said ‘They have had too much wine!’” They have had too much wine. These guys are drunk as they were speaking in these languages, these guys are drunk. Then Peter stood up with the eleven and raised his voice and addressed the crowd.” Here we get a little speech from Peter. “‘Fellow Jews and all you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you. Listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose.’” Why are they not drunk? Well, it’s only 9 in the morning, it’s too early to be drunk. “These men are not drunk, it’s only 9 in the morning. No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “in the last days God said ‘I will pour out my spirit on people.’” Joel had prophesied that way back in the book of Joel 2. “Your sons and your daughters, your sons and daughters will prophesy [not just your sons], but your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even my servants both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.’” Then he goes down from there. So the question comes up, then, what is this speaking in tongues and what’s going on here with this? How do I judge something like that? We’ve got modern speaking in tongues. Is this the same as what was going on in Acts 2? You’ve got to be careful with some of these modern things.
R. Speaking in Tongues Today
I now just start out with a story like this to explain some things. Back in the 1970’s when I was in college I was asked by a group, this was back in the Jesus movement days and so--many people probably don’t know, this is long been forgotten but people like Keith Green and there was a Jesus movement. They were called Jesus Freaks, I’m sorry, Jesus Freaks back in the Jesus movement in the 70’s. I was at the University of Buffalo at the time there was a group that came up from Springville and they wondered if I would lead a Bible study down in Springville so I went to this group and I figured well I better go down ahead of time I don’t know these people very well and it was quite far south from where I lived so I want to go down and see what they do. Just to see if I’d fit in. Whenever you do something you want to be consistent about that, what they’re expecting and what they’re thinking when it comes down to Scripture. So I went down and there was a guy named Sunshine. Now Sunshine just came in from California. So Sunshine came in he’s got his guitar on his back, he’s got long hair, this was a big thing back in the 60’s and early 70’s. So Sunshine was going to do it. So he starts, you know, he has a Bible study a little bit on the Bible and what’s going around and then he played the guitar. We sang “that was cool,” I said, “Ok, we can do this.” Then what happened was he basically said turn the lights down and we’re going to pray. And see normally when I pray I turn the lights down by closing my eyes. But he actually had them turn the lights down and I said well this is a little bit strange. So then Sunshine was here and basically he went around from person to person and basically said, “Let God come into your life,” and “let loose and let God have control.” And pretty soon people one after another they started speaking in tongues and doing some stuff, I had never seen before in my life. Pretty soon he was going around and everybody was doing something and now he comes all the way around to me and I’m thinking, “holy cow, what am I going to do here? Do I do a little bit what I know, espanol? So I do “Buenos dias, como esta usted”? What can I do here? He looked at me, grabbed my arms and I thought, “O man this is,” I didn’t know what to expect or what to think. He looked at me and then, I don’t know, I must have had this funny look on my face. But anyway he just backed off, he backed off and let me do nothing. So I was the only person in the room who was doing nothing, I was doing a lot of praying by the way, and basically and my prayer that night was as I left the Bible study that night I pulled, a mile down the road and I said “God is this from you? I don’t have a clue what went on there.” I couldn’t understand what these guys were saying. Was this from you or was this, I’ve never experienced this.
As I said I was from a real kind of a fundamentalist Baptist kind of background and I don’t belittle that. I know a lot of people are blasting the fundamentalist Baptists, looking down their nose at them. They taught me a lot of Scripture, I learned a lot of good principles a lot of core virtues that they taught me. But, frankly, I don’t talk much anymore so we look down our nose and privilege ourselves as this intellectual elite, you hear the sarcasm in my voice. I think it’s rather premature and it’s--especially what I’m seeing in our country today, I think we could use a little more of a good founding on fundamental principles, if we even know what that means anymore.
But anyway, so I’m down and I’m basically saying, “God what would just happened, I have no clue.” So then, in there was a charismatic movement that was happening in the late 60’s, early 70’s and there was a lot of enthusiasm and vibrancy in charismatic churches and that was really a good thing because there were a lot of good churches that were dead. Just like dead wood and the vibrancy of the charismatics brought back passion. It brought back passion for God and a lot of worship too. Whereas the churches were much involved when I was growing up, were involved in didactic teaching of Scripture in a kind of a didactic way. But there wasn’t this passion for the worship of God. It was more of teaching moral principles and very narrow ways of being Christian, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink, you don’t go to movies or whatever it was. They engaged those kind of very restricted boundaries rather than focusing on the worship of God. So I think in some senses the charismatic movement was really had a wide, wide effect and it’s been fairly helpful it and for the Christian culture.
S. What’s to Come and Conclusion
But then what is this speaking in tongues thing here? I want to go back to the book Acts 2 now. Well, we look at this and it was foreign language. It seems like from what we just described here that these Jews are from all over the world and that God is indicating that he is God by having these blue collared hicks, country bumkins who know barely their own language speaking the languages from all over the world and Jews then coming from all over the world knowing they hear them speak in their native tongue letting them know this is something from God. This is not just them making this up, this is from God. Indeed, Peter says this is what Joel said that, “the Spirit is going to come on your sons and daughters and they are going to prophesy.” The coming of the Spirit would be as you had the coming of the Messiah. So Joel, too, talks about the coming of the Spirit and at Pentecost it actually happens and it’s shown in external signs and wonders and one of the signs and wonders actually is the speaking in tongues. So much so that they recognized that language was their native tongue.
So what I’d like to do, is we need to talk about this and I want to put it in a bigger scenario let me just outline that and then we’ll call it quits because we’ll finish it up and I’m trying to coordinate these lectures with what we’re actually doing in class during the week. Next time what I’d like to do is look at Acts 2, Acts 2 talks about specific language groups and areas that they come from so this is foreign language when they speak in tongues, it’s definitely foreign language. I want to jump over to Acts 8 when the Spirit came on the Samaritans and I want to look at what happens there. I want to jump over to Acts 10 and look when the Spirit comes on Cornelius who’s a Gentile not a Jew, a Gentile in chapter 10 when the Spirit comes on him what happens. Then what happens to Paul in Acts chapter 19 that we mentioned earlier when Paul lays hands, on some of John the Baptist’s disciples who didn’t know about Jesus, I think it was at Ephesus, and he lays hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. What happens to them? And then what I’d like to do is collect the chapter 2, chapter 8, chapter 10, and chapter 19 when the Spirit comes on them and watch the speaking in tongues there and say that’s the Acts speaking in tongues.
Then I’d like to jump over then to 1 Corinthians 12 and mention some things there because we also have a record in 1 Corinthians 12 of the Spirit coming on at that point as well. Now, when we do this I would like to talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and I think you’ve got to there’s a one verse I think that is really important on this whole baptism of the Holy Spirit thing. We want to touch on that later, it comes from Corinthians. So I think I’ll leave that for next time and next time then we’ll focus on the speaking on tongues and whether it’s for today or not and what its function was and how it connects with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What I’m going to suggest then is the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that work of the Holy Spirit of God by which he bonds Jew and Greek, male and female, together into one body. So work of the Holy Spirit is that by which he conforms the body into one body of Christ from all its diversity. So we’ve got a lot to look forward to and we’ll cover that next time. Thank you.
Transcribed by Stevie Schweighardt
Edited by Ben Bowden
Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt