LESSON SIX: ACTS PART 1

Introduction

  • Two of the things we saw as focal points in the book of John were the “Messiah, One like Moses” connection, and the Temple/Feasts. Both of these are also present in the book of Acts.
  • The book of Acts is a continuation of the book of Luke, written by Luke. As such, we know that since Luke’s main purpose was to provide a chronological account in the book of Luke, the same is true in Acts.
  • The book of Acts is an inconvenient history for those who hold to either Supercessionism (Replacement Theology) or Dispensationalism. As such, it is usually labeled “a transitional book.”
  • Question: Who best knows the “theology” of Messiah – the First Century believers who were closest to Yeshua, or the Second and Third Century “church fathers”?

Transition? From What to What?

  • The reason Acts is labeled a “transitional book” is because it is profoundly Jewish even though much of it takes place in Greek and Roman cities.
  • The “transitional” approach is that Acts is showing us how the Jerusalem-centered religion of Judaism was being replaced by a Gentile church; thus establishing the notion that later “church fathers” were then free to define the “theology.” The “transition” in mind is one from “Judaism” to “Christianity.”
  • This incorrect thinking allows for the notion that it took time for the real theology of “Christianity” to be discovered and refined. The adherents to this line would say that happened early in the Second Century and following.
  • Ironically, Hegesippus, a Second Century church historian provides the opposite view. He says that after the Apostles were gone, false teachers dominated.
  • In one way, Acts does provide a transition from a Jews-only faith, to one that invites all peoples to be grafted in.

“The Way” – a Temple Sect of Judaism

  • Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-2: “continually in the Temple.” “Continually” is a key word. It connects to the Hebrew tamidwhich is often translated as “continual” or “daily.” Tamid refers to the two daily times of offering and prayer: morning, and afternoon.
  • Acts 1:12: Why does Luke tell us how far Olivet is from Jerusalem?
  • 2:1-15: Shavuot [Pentecost]. In “one place” – the “house” [beit] – the only place in Jerusalem where thousands of people could gather when they heard the noise is the Temple [Beit HaMikdash]. At 9:00 am, everyone would have been at Shacharit prayers in the Temple.
  • 2:36-42: Repent. Immersion in the Temple mikvaot. “continued steadfastly in… the Prayers.” Shacharit, Minchah, Ma’ariv.
  • 2:46: “Continuing daily… in the Temple” – “continue”, a key word connected to the tamid offerings.
  • 3:1: Peter and John on the way to the Temple for Minchah, the afternoon prayers (3:00 pm).
  • 3:8: After his healing, the lame man can enter the Temple for the first time.
  • 6:4: Continually to “the Prayer” – Temple liturgy.
  • 10:1-3: Prayer and alms. Tefila and Tzadekah. Praying Minchah Prayers at 3:00 pm.
  • 16:13: In the Diaspora, prayer at the same set times by pious Jews.
  • 21:22-24; 21:26-27: Paul, along with other believers participated in all Temple activities, including offerings (in this case, the offerings for ending a Nazerite vow).
  • 22:17: Paul, praying in the Temple.
  • 24:14: Paul never left Judaism
  • 24:18; 25:8: Paul was careful to purify himself before going to the Temple – and never spoke against it (false witnesses like against Stephen in 6:13-14)
  • 28:17: Paul never left Judaism.

Summary

  • Those believers closest to the time of our Master’s ministry surely knew best what it was that Yeshua had taught them. The book of Acts is not a transition from Judaism to Christianity. It a book that clearly and historically shows the continuity of the believers’ faith and practice. This was not a new religion.
  • The first believers saw the Temple, liturgical Hebrew Prayers, the Sabbath, and the Feasts as necessary Messianic things.