Burst Open – Acts 1

When Peter rose to speak to all of the brethren that were present, he told of Judas’ betrayal, having been numbered as one of them in this ministry. The purchase of the field that Peter referred to was done by the Sanhedrin after Judas had given the money back that he had been paid for showing them the way to find and arrest Jesus.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than mentioning Judas having hanged himself, Peter allowed that he “burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (although he did not say that he was alive before that happened). Of course, these two accounts are the source of finger-pointing by skeptics who say this is a contradiction. We will not spend a lot of time on this because there are plenty of other resources that do a better job of explaining this, such as this article at Apologetics Press. We find the likelihood that Judas’ body was highly decomposed, causing Peter’s rather graphically described end, a likely scenario. It is especially so when one considers that he hanged himself at the time of Passover (we do not know where for certain – probably far from where anyone would find him readily). Touching a dead body at any time would make one ceremonially unclean for seven days after purification. That would certainly be undesirable during the Passover feast.

Peter speaks of the fate of Judas in terms of fulfilling prophecy (Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8). The latter, “may another take his office,” means that they must now choose someone to replace Judas. The choice was made by much praying and casting lots. The one they chose was Matthias. We never hear much about him after that, which leads some to speculate that they appointed him in error, and that Paul was really the Lord’s choice for replacement. We should be satisfied instead with the prophecy spoken of here. What became of Matthias was not important to the gospel, so we do not know. We do know that Paul was chosen by the Lord Himself, and the apostles would decrease in number again soon enough – beginning with James in Acts 12.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Communion and Preparation – Luke 22

As Jesus and his disciples reclined at table to eat the Passover, he told them how much he had looked forward to having this opportunity- his truly last until “it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” – after his resurrection. He took the cup of the fruit of the vine and the bread, and He had them divide it between them. Note that He gave thanks for the bread and the fruit of the vine separately before doing so, just as is our custom in observing this Lord’s supper which he instituted here.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper (Photo credit: elmas156)

After he explained to them the meaning that these elements now had – his body and his blood, they ate. It was then that he broke the news to them that one of those who were present would betray him. He said that the fact that he was going to go was already determined. But He  told them that it would not go well for the one who betrayed him. This got their attention, and they questioned each other, trying to determine who it was.

Then an odd dispute came up – odd in light of the news that Jesus had just given them. The dispute was over which one of them would be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom. This goes to show that it still just wasn’t sinking in. It reminds us of the third time that Jesus foretold His death to them in Luke 18:34. The scripture said “this saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. It seems clear that they still were not “grasping” it. They were still imagining that Jesus was to become the earthly king of the Jews, and that they were wondering just how high on the “totem pole” each of them was going to be.

So then Jesus turned upside down their notions of greatness and leadership completely. He pointed out that He is one among them who serves. Luke does not recount here the lesson that Jesus taught them about serving when He washed their feet, as John detailed in John 13:12-15. But it is clear that at this point He had given it to them. He also told them that those who would be the “greatest” must become as the youngest – that is, those who were more often traditionally called to serve others. Yet he said that He assigns to them – those who were with Him thru His trials – a place at his table in his kingdom. They just still do not know what “the kingdom” really will mean at this point.

Then Jesus’ conversation turns to Peter, and that deserves some attention. Note verses 31-32:

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Judas at the Last Supper

Judas at the Last Supper (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

It is significant that the word translated as you twice in verse 31 is plural. So the verse is emphasizing Satan’s determination to shake the faith of all of the apostles. In verse 32, the word is plural, as Jesus is addressing Peter. Jesus knew by now that Judas was lost, and he knew that Peter was Satan’s next target. But He says, that He has prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. He knew that the Holy Spirit would fill Peter at the proper time, and that he would strengthen the others. Peter, of course, said he was ready to go to prison or die, but Jesus told him of his coming denial.

He then reminds them of when he sent them out without a moneybag or knapsack (Luke 9:1-6), and asks if they lacked for anything. They answered that they had not. Then he told them:

“But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.

This passage generates much debate. Some see the sword as having a figurative meaning – as in arming themselves for spreading the gospel. But if that were the case, wouldn’t the moneybag and knapsack also be figurative? But how else to explain it? Jesus obviously did not want them to use these swords against the authorities when they came to arrest him. But note that when Peter does cut the ear from one of them when they come to arrest Jesus, Jesus rebukes him – but he does not have him get rid of the sword either.

The most reasonable explanation is that Jesus knows that their lives are about to change. They were safe as long as they were all together with him. But many would scatter and become separated. They would need their moneybags, their knapsacks, and they would need their swords for protection against robbers, and maybe even wild animals. Remember, they weren’t checking into La Quinta on their travels, and seldom were lucky enough to be taken into someone’s home.

 

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

 

/Bob’s boy

 

___________________

 

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

 

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

 

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Twelve (extra) Ordinary Men

All four of the Gospels contain numerous references to Jesus going to God in prayer. On this occasion (in Luke 6:12), Luke says that he went to “the mountain” and spent the whole night in prayer. We do not know what mountain this was. It is reasonable to believe it was one located close to what was then Capernaum.

Ministry of the Apostles, a complex multi-figu...

Ministry of the Apostles, a complex multi-figure icon with a full-height image of Jesus Christ, surrounded by sectors with scenes of His disciples’ calling, ministry and martyrdom. Icon from the Yaroslavl Museum Preserve. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What was the occasion of such a lengthy and fervent time of prayer by the Son of God? The next verse gives us the answer, for when day came, He chose from among His disciples twelve men from various backgrounds, and named them “apostles,” a word very familiar to us. He chose this term because it describes what their mission would be very well. It comes from the Greek word “apostolos,” which means “messenger” or more aptly “one who is sent out.” This will become most appropriate when He gives them their “Great Commission.” The list of apostles also occurs in Matthew 10:2-4, and in Mark 3:14-19. There are some differences, but it is the same twelve men in those gospels as listed here in Luke. Like Simon, many were known by more than one name.

The first two are “Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother” The next two listed are James and John (the sons of Zebedee), who were partners in fishing with Peter and Andrew. This James is sometimes called “James the greater” to distinguish him from the other apostle named James. John referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, John 20:2). Philip was one of the first disciples, but is not mentioned after Jesus’ ascension. He should not be confused with the Philip in the book of Acts that was a deacon.

The next apostle listed is Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael (John 1:44-49); and he is almost always mentioned along with Philip. Next was Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector, followed by Thomas (who, unfairly really, will always be remembered as “doubting Thomas”). Next come James the son of Alpheus (also known as James the less), and Simon “who was called the Zealot.” In the days before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the group of people known as Zealots were men who wished to overthrow the Roman government. It is unknown for certain whether the term here is meant in a religious sense or in that political sense. If the latter, it would mean that a change of heart and purpose occurred in his life after becoming a disciple. Otherwise, Jesus would not have made him an apostle.

English: Icon of James, the Just, brother of J...

English: Icon of James, the Just, brother of Jesus Português: Ícone de Tiago, o Justo, irmão de Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Number eleven in the Gospel of Luke is “Judas the son of James,” known in Matthew as Thaddaeus. Some scholars believe that this is the Jude that wrote the book of Jude, but there are some problems with that. In the opening for the Book of Jude, he calls himself “the brother of James,” while he is listed here as the son of James. It is certainly possible for someone to have a brother with the same name as their father, but it is more likely that Jude was referring to a more well-known James – the brother of Jesus. If so, it would make that Jude the brother of Jesus also (both he and James called themselves “servants” of Jesus Christ in the scriptures). Jesus did have a brother named Jude, short for Judas (Matthew 13:55). But none of the apostles could have been brothers of Jesus. Though His brothers did come to believe in Him, at the time of John 7:5, they did not; and the circumstances in that passage occurred well after His apostles were named. The last apostle in the list is Judas Iscariot who, we all know, betrayed Jesus.

Twelve men who were just like you and me, who saw in Jesus salvation for the world. Their lives were never the same after meeting Him. And once Jesus went home, the Holy Spirit would make their understanding of what they were a part of complete. But for now, they have a lot to learn.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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