Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Acts 10:44-48

Summary:  The larger narrative about Peter and Cornelius continues to fascinate me.  While we consider it obvious that God loves non-Jews, Peter needs some serious convincing.  This is crucial in our world today, in which we are constantly plagued by us vs them and truly God-is-with-us-and-not-them mentality.

I do not think this passage can be preached on without the rest of Acts 10, so my reflection hopefully offers some helpful connections to the early passages

Key Words:

τον λογον (the word, 10:44)  Throughout his Gospel and Acts, Luke makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is connected to the Word.  The Spirit is not acting independently of the Word.  This is a huge theological point that Christians continue to ignore and debate.  

I would like to make the point more basically for today's ministry context:  Salvation comes from outside of ourselves.  It does not derive form our feelings or our reason, but it is an external gift.

οι εκ πετιτομης πιστοι ("the of circumcision believers", 10:45)  They are no longer quite Jews, these believers in Jesus.  Yet the are still culturally (and physically!) distinct.  It is also interesting that the particular construction could also read:  "Those who trust, resulting from circumcision."  Luke almost suggests their faith is still in their ethnicity and culturally constructed laws rather than Christ.  This is still incredibly relevant for today.  Luke's point is that this interaction is not simply changing the "εθνη" ("gentiles", 10:45) but also the original Jews who believed in Christ.  They must learn in their soul what they had been preaching, that God's love was truly for all.

εκκεχυται (poured out, 10:45)  This hearkens back to Peter's sermon on Pentecost, in which he foretells the outpouring of the Spirit.  

Strange insight:  In Luke's Gospel, Jesus warns that new wine in old wine skin will cause the wine to be poured out.  Perhaps in light of Acts, we realize this is not a bad thing.  The old wine-skins, as it turned out, needed to be burst!

γλωσσα(ις) (tongues, 10:46) In parts of the early church and still to do this day, speaking in tongues is considered evidence of the Holy Spirit.  While many of us would reject this, it is worth asking -- what do we consider to be evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

εν τω ονοματι (in the name, 10:48)  Certain Christian sects will only baptize in the name of Jesus because of what happens in Acts.  It is powerful that Luke doesn't clean up Peter here and use the full name of the Trinity.  Again and again we see Luke willing to show us the evolution of the church, through ups and downs, as it begins to solidify its confession of Christ.

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