Epistles of Thomas

October 21, 2008

Acts 19-21

Filed under: New Testament — Thomas @ 13:54

Chapter 19 demonstrates the power of God as well as the seriousness of misusing that power. The seven sons of Sceva, significantly a Jewish high priest, attempted to drive out demons in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches. The demon would have none of that and soundly beat them all. Luke is making a point about relationship to Jesus and relationship to others as encapsulated in the demon’s response “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (19:15). Meanwhile in Ephesus the local supporters of Artemis were getting upset over loss of business. Their opposition clearly shows the socio-economic upheaval that has begun. Those who were first shall be last, and those who were last shall become first.

At 20:5 the narrator once again includes himself in the story. This reminds me to mention an important point. When reading Acts keep your eyes open for places where the narrative is told from the first person perspective: we, us. Sometime it is told second hand whereas at other times it is told first hand. Paul has a tearful farewell with the believers before he made his way to Jerusalem. Once there he is informed about the thousands of Jews who believe but who are also zealous in obeying the law. The church leadership, headed by James the brother of Jesus, has been faithful to the Acts 15 conference by proclaiming the four conditions for Gentiles but they realise that with Paul’s arrival trouble cannot be far behind. This soon occurs when Paul is in the temple and some Jews accuse him of bringing Gentiles into the Jewish area. A riot ensues and Paul has to be rescued by Roman soldiers. Tomorrow we will reflect on his speech to the crowd.

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