The fifth book of the New Testament, The Acts of the Apostles, immediately follows the Gospel of John but interestingly scholars believe the book to be a complementary book to the Gospel of Luke. This is the book that begins to share the stories of acts and deeds of the apostles, or Jesus’ disciples, following Jesus’ resurrection and the spreading of good news to the ends of the earth. Yet, as The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV) notes, the title of this book is a misnomer because whom we actually read about for the majority of the book is Paul, not one of the original disciples and the only disciple we read more details about within Acts is Peter. And yet, this action-packed book is an important canonical book to tell the history and build the confidence of the early church as it faced persecution, answered questions of how to live faithfully and uniquely as Christians, and of course, the example of Paul himself. Through the book we see the ‘successful expansion of the early Christian mission throughout the Roman Empire under the direction of the Spirit according to the purpose of God.”
Acts 28: 25b-31
“Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, 26‘Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. 27For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’ 28Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
30He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, 31proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
Christ Jesus, many the echoes of your love and the wonderous retellings of your earliest followers’ faithfulness strengthen me in my journey as a faithful disciple too. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.