Monthly Archives: January, 2006

Acts 2: 14-36 / crystal

I’m having trouble with this passage, but here goes …

“Now therefore the whole nation of Israel must know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Jesus, whom you crucified, God has declared to be both Lord and Christ.”

… It seems that Peter is basing his arguments for Jesus being the messiah on two things – one, the prophesies from the OT, the other, the miracles J performed.

1)this is something which was predicted by the prophet Joel …. David …. He foresaw the resurrection of Christ, and it is this of which he is speaking.

… I find these references to the OT less than convincing, though I can understnad the necessity of it …. By stressing the continuity between Judaism and Christianity, Luke argues that Christianity is deserving of the same toleration accorded Judaism by Rome. – NAB. And Luke also uses this device to identifies Peter with jesus …. Peter preaches, quoting from the prophet Joel (2:16-36; quoting Joel 2:28-32) – Jesus preaches, after reading from the prophet Isaiah (4:14-30; quoting Isa 61:1-2)Felix Just SJ

2)Jesus of Nazareth was a man proved to you by God himself through the works of power, the miracles and the signs which God showed through him here amongst you …

… this I do find a fairly convincing proof of Jesus being God … not so much the healings, which other Rabbis at the time also performed, but Jesus’ ability to still a storm, walk on water, bring the dead back to life, etc. I know most don’t believe in the existence of the miracles of the gospels, but I’m sticking with being a supernaturalist :-). An interesting tidbit on divine action/miracles can be read here at the Counterbalance Foundation.


Peter’s Sermon LC

Note how skillfully Peter connected the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection to the O.T. (and perhaps set the mode for all preachers since!). This is a good example of how closely related the N.T. and O.T. are– true from beginning to end. (It would be very worthwhile to go through the whole N.T. and gather all the O.T. sources together as David has done here for a small portion. It would make an abbreviated O.T., something badly needed IMHO.)

In the gospels, and again in Acts Peter serves as the archetype of a disciple. In what happened to him, his actions and words, I see myself over and over. In this reading I especially noted his tendency to categorize the Jews as murderers of Christ, a looseness of language that had dire consequencies in subsequent Christian history.

It has become more and more painful for me to hear the Jews, the Moslems, the blacks, and many other groups categorized and condemned, probably because I’ve done it myself too many times.

Supplementary references

Because this next passage is presented as Peter’s exposition of scripture — it is then a bible study of a bible study of sorts — I’m providing folks with some supplementary scripture readings.

Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.

What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away; for the LORD has spoken.

Joel 2:14-3:8 (NRSV)

* * *

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16 (NRSV)

* * *

Note: Peter’s reference the Holy One not being deserted in death (abandoned to Hades in NRSV) or experiencing corruption is lost on me. It must be a paraphrase from the Psalms but I cannot find it.

* * *

The LORD says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The LORD sends out from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes.
Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day you lead your forces on the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning, like dew, your youth will come to you.
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter heads over the wide earth.
He will drink from the stream by the path; therefore he will lift up his head.

Psalm 110 (NRSV)

Acts 2: 14-36

Peter explains the fulfilment of God’s promise

2:14-21 – Then Peter, with the eleven standing by him, raised his voice and addressed them: “Fellow Jews, and all who are living in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I say while I explain to you what has happened! These men are not drunk as you suppose – it is after all only nine o’clock in the morning of this great feast day. No, this is something which was predicted by the prophet Joel, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on my menservants and on my maidservants I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and notable day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

2:22-28 – “Men of Israel, I beg you to listen to my words. Jesus of Nazareth was a man proved to you by God himself through the works of power, the miracles and the signs which God showed through him here amongst you – as you very well know. This man, who was put into your power by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed up and murdered, and you used for your purpose men without the Law! But God would not allow the bitter pains of death to touch him. He raised him to life again – and indeed there was nothing by which death could hold such a man. When David speaks about him he says, ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh will also rest in hope, because you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in your presence.’

2:29-35 – “Men and brother-Jews, I can surely speak freely to you about the patriarch David. There is no doubt that he died and was buried, and his grave is here among us to this day. But while he was alive he was a prophet. He knew that God had given him a most solemn promise that he would place one of his descendants upon his throne. He foresaw the resurrection of Christ, and it is this of which he is speaking. Christ was not deserted in death and his body was never destroyed. ‘Christ is the man Jesus, whom God raised up – a fact of which all of us are eye-witnesses!’ He has been raised to the right hand of God; he has received from the Father and poured out upon us the promised Holy Spirit – that is what you now see and hear! David never ascended to Heaven, but he certainly said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool’.

2:36 – “Now therefore the whole nation of Israel must know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Jesus, whom you crucified, God has declared to be both Lord and Christ.”

JB Phillip’s Translation

baptism in the holy ghost

I’m afraid I have little or nothing to add to what’s already been said here. I too noticed the connection between this and the Tower of Babel that Crystal discusses.

So lets open this up a bit. What are the elements of reversal here. At Babel, humans try to reach the heavens through a human agency. They think they can get to the divine by a construction project. God thwarts them by confusing their languages and incidentally creating the system of nations and ethnicity and division which has plagued us ever since. Our divisions, our nation states including wars, the game of empire, and all that stuff is basically the result of our attempting to reach heaven through our own efforts.

At Pentecost, the disciples are told to wait (tarry in the King Jimmy). They do as they’re told (something they don’t do much) and the spirit descends (they find themselves praising God in differing tongues). So this reversal happens through the agency of God and the obedient waiting of humanity. This leads directly into the spiritual wisdom Twyla describes in her posting.

In modern charismatic traditions the attraction is often the speaking in tongues. But the modern practice of tongue speaking isn’t quite the same thing here. Here the listeners are hearing God’s praises in their own languages. That’s not what happens in most Pentecostal revival type services – although I have had people say that the experience does happen occasionally.

I think what interests me and also the first Friends is the experience of power. This small group has suddenly been empowered to go forth and minister, to preach, to heal, and to build a new spiritual community, not in their own strength but in the power of God.

Where I am right now in my life — I do not feel I know that kind of empowerment.

Just a note …

I saw this posted at another blog and thought those taking part in our discussion of Judas might find it interesting …
Judas Iscariot to Get Vatican Makeover

Stay Until…

Christ’s last words before ascension: “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high”. (Luke 24:49)

And so they did. They were “all with one mind continually devoting themselves to prayer”. And on the appointed day, they were all together in one place. They found the place they needed to be and they stayed there. How often I fail to do this very thing. How often have I missed the whisper of divine breezes because I was in too much a hurry? How often missed the passion brought by the kiss of the flame?

Come to me…wait upon me…Stay with me…how many ways must I hear before I really listen? Before I understand that to experience all God has for me I must come, I must wait, I must stay.

Acts 2 – lc

Pentecost! If anything could be considered the central chapter of Acts, it would be this: the continuing activity of the H.S.

That’s what Acts is all about; the remaining chapters describe further activity of the H.S., and the pity is that so many people think it ends with chapter 28. No, no, no. It goes on right down to 2006, and it’s not just about the orthodox tradition, it’s about a great deal more, eg all the ‘heretics’ as well and much more than that.

We already discerned that Pentecost is the reversal of the Tower of Babel, when we learn to understand one another’s language; the H.S. doesn’t mean for us to speak and understand only our tribalistic lingo; the gift to us is to understand the ‘Hindoo’, the Sarecen, the mulatto, yes, the chocolates.
The original beneficiaries of this gift went out to all these types and many, many others.

Pentecost freed the original community (who had developed complete community) from any further dependence upon the law, the Testament which had bound the Hebrews (what Blake meant by ‘mind forg’d manacles’). And by the same token we are freed from our little parochial viewpoints- if we experience pentecost.

Stephen expressed that freedom, and it cost him his mortal life- and a crown of glory. Few or any of us will choose his route, but to whatever degree we have the courage we may witness to the glory that has been given to us. Glory be; that is the H.S. working in us as it (he,she) did in Stephen, Peter and Paul.

Babel / crystal

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability …. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

Pentecost is shown to reverse the curse of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9) … with the giving of the Holy Spirit, a difference in languages unites people instead of dividing them.

I know this is serious stuff, but I can’t help but be reminded of the Babrl Fish of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. According to Wikipedia

A Babel fish is a highly improbable biological universal translator. It appears as a “small, yellow and leechlike” fish. When a Babel fish is inserted into the ear canal it allows the wearer to “instantly understand anything said… in any form of language” …. According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, the Babel fish was put forth as a fideist example for the non-existence of God:

“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don’t. Q.E.D.”

“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.


Acts 2:1-13 (NRSV)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs— in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”