We begin our series today on the book of Acts, a march right through this book from 1:1 to 28:31, and I anticipate it will take us months. As we march through this book, our emphasis will be on the theme of mission and what we can learn about missional theology in the Acts of the Apostles.
To help us, I will be reading Beverly Gaventa’s commentary on Acts: The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)
. So join us as we look through the Book of Acts.
By the way, Beverly begins her Preface with this: “The Acts of the Apostles is a dangerous document” (17). The book takes us on a journey where, she says, “beyond domestic borders into unfamiliar territory where passports are invalid and embassies afford little protection” (25).
In pondering Acts 1:1-11 (text below), I observe these:
First, as Beverly makes abundantly clear throughout her commentary and her work (and I heard this from her in South Africa in May), the primary actor in the Book of Acts is God. This is a book about what God is doing. Mission is what God is doing.
Second, it seems to me that “began to do” suggests that what God is doing now is continuing the work of Jesus through the work of the Apostles and the earliest churches. What God did then was kingdom of God work; that entails that what God is now doing is kingdom of God work.Third, the missional work of the Church is work empowered by God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit turns ordinary humans into witnesses — to Jesus and to God’s work in Jesus and to the kingdom and through the power of the Spirit.
Fourth, this mission work is what God is doing between two times: between the First coming of Christ and the Second Coming of Christ.
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many
convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period
of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this
command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father
promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to
the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.”Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the
sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will
come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”