May 1, 2011 – “From Easter to Pentecost”  -- led by John Weicher


The Acts of the Apostles, Ch. 1-2



Since Pentecost is often considered to be the birth of the church, it seems worthwhile to study what happened after the resurrection for the four weeks in between, even though Pentecost actually is described in Ch. 2   Our plan is to study the first eight chapters of Acts, ending as Paul makes his appearance.


The Acts of the Apostles begins with the 11 remaining apostles and the process of determining who will replace Judas.  This brings up a question:  how many of the apostles actually act in Acts?  The answer:  three. In fact, the answer is very nearly one.


Peter is the dominant figure in the early chapters of Acts, for both the selection of the 12th apostle in Ch. 1 and the events of Pentecost in Ch. 2, and beyond. 


Philip is the second.  He is told by an angel of the Lord to go toward Gaza, where he meets an Ethiopian official who is reading the book of Isaiah; he instructs and baptizes the official, and that is the scriptural basis for Ethiopia’s claim to be the first Christian kingdom.  This led to a discussion of Armenia’s claim to be first, which Eusebius describes with copious quotations from letters and documents we do not have.   Much of Eusebius’ History of the Church consists of apparently genuine documents which he often quotes at length; perhaps he is doing the same here. 


James the brother of John is the third.  In Ch. 12 he is beheaded by Herod – Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great. 


The others do not appear as individuals at all.  There are traditions concerning all of them – where they preached, where and how they died.  There are traditions concerning Matthias, who was chosen by lot to be the twelfth; there appear to be no traditions at all concerning Joseph Barsabbas, who lost on the first-century equivalent of a coin toss.  But they are never mentioned in Acts by name after Ch. 1.