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Early Church and Paul

By Tiffany-Radones Mar 04, 2014 2702 Words
Unit 6 Lesson 1 “The Early Church & Paul”

Objectives:
Describe the life and practice of the early church
Demonstrate knowledge of the early life, conversion and ministry of Paul Identify and discuss the major themes of Paul’s teachings
Relate Paul’s message to the present Philippine context

Day of the Pentecost – the early church began in Jerusalem in accordance to God’s commands is sometimes described by some Christians today as the "Birthday of the Church." a Jewish feast, was celebrated 50 days after Passover, and pilgrims had come to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the event. a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, (120 in all) as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. Tongues of fire – were separated and came to each one of the Jews that were gather tongues parting asunder, tongues distributed among them, each disciple sharing in the gift equally with the others. "Like as of fire," or, more exactly, "as if of fire," indicates the appearance of the tongues, not that they were actually aflame, but that they prefigured the marvelous gift with which the disciples were now endowed

The 12 apostleswere gathered together in a house when a terrific wind came from heaven and filled the place. They saw tongues that looked like fire that separated and came down on each of them. Immediately the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, who caused them to speak in tongues. The crowds of visitors were astonished because every pilgrim heard the apostles speaking to him or her in their own foreign language! Some accused the apostles of being drunk.

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” – Acts 2:4 The Apostle Peter stood and addressed them, saying they were not drunk. It was only nine o'clock in the morning. Then, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached boldly to them, explaining aboutJesus Christ and God's plan of salvation.

The crowd was so moved when Peter told them of their part in Jesus' crucifixion that they asked the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37, NIV). The right response, Peter told them, was to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. He promised that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter spoke to the Israelites “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit... ” – Acts 2:38

They took the gospel message to heart. About 3,000 people were baptized and added to the fledgling Christian church on that Day of Pentecost. Characteristics of the Early Church (Acts 2:42-47)
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” A learning church

A church of fellowship
A praying church
A reverent church
A sharing church
A joyful church
A church of signs and wonders
A church liked by the crowd
Solomon’s colonnade/portico – where the believers used to meet and have fellowship – Acts 3:11 a large hall 50 cubits long and 30 cubits wide. Originally there was cedar from floor to ceiling. This was the hall of judgment where the king would make judgments and exercise justice. The "porch" or "portico" was located on the east side of the outer court of the New Testament temple of Herod.

Believers prayed for boldness – Acts 4:23
God’s grace was upon all believers – Acts 4:32
Sadducees – Jewish party of the intertestamental period consisting of high priests – arrested the apostles and placed them in the public jail
party of the intertestamental period consisting of high priests a member of a Jewish party of the time of Jesus Christ that denied the resurrection of the dead, the existence of spirits, and the obligation of oral tradition, emphasizing acceptance of the written Law alone.

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. (Acts 5:12-16) The high priests and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in public jail. Apostles were freed by the angel of the Lord and were instructed to tell everyone about the good news. – Acts 5:19 The apostles were restricted to preach the gospel but then... “We must obey God rather than human beings!” – Acts 5:29 Seven were chosen to serve; namely, Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch – Acts 6

Stephen – a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among people - traditionallyregarded as the first martyr of Christianity, was a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. - was stoned to death, which was approved by Saul –Acts 7:54

Who is Saul/Paul?
He was born in Tarsus (Acts 21:39, 22:3), the metropolis of Cicilia. His Hebrew name was Saul. His Roman (or Greek) name was Paulos. He had two names for his two cultural worlds: Saul and Paul. He came from a devout Jewish family that belonged to the Pharisaic movement.His native language is Greek, due to his early living in Tarsus. He would have spoken fluent Aramaic and Hebrew, due to his upbringing in a devout and conservative Jewish family and his rabbinic studies. His letters and the book of Acts indicate that Paul studied the Torah from a Pharisaic perspective under rabbi Gamaliel and that he received a basic (Greek) rhetorical education in a Jewish-Hellenistic school in Jerusalem. In addition to his academic training Paul also learned a trade, also a leather-worker, tent-maker (Acts 18:3).

Saul the Persecutor
Why did Paul persecute the church? Not because they claim Jesus to be the Messiah. Rather because they called into question central institutions and tenets or principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true of the Jewish faith, namely Moses, the law, and the temple. According to the Jewish law (Deut), apostasy or renunciation of a religious faith of this sort is grounds for stoning. (The earlier persecution of the Jerusalem leaders by the Sanhedrin had been because of the popularity of the earliest community of believers, something which threatened the leaders – Acts 3-5). There is some likelihood that Paul was a missionary for the Jewish faith prior to his reversal (Gal 5:1). Proselytizing (name for making Jewish converts) was not uncommon among some Pharisees. Following his reversal, his new understanding of entry requirements into the family of faith makes him an even more “successful” missionary.

Paul’s conversion
While he was on his way to Damascus, Jesus spoke to him “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?... But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9) Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, was commanded by the Lord to touch Paul and restore his sight because for three days he was blind as a result of the brightness of the light in which Jesus had revealed Himself.

“But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit...” – Acts 13:9

Overall outline and specific dates of Paul’s career as “apostle/emissary of Messiah Jesus”:

31/32 A. Conversion/Commission (Acts 9, 22, 16; Gal 1; 1 Cor 15)
B. Three years in Damascus and Arabia (Galatians 1:17)
34/35C. Visit to Jerusalem, 15 days; meets with Cephas/Peter and James (Gal 1:21-24)
D. 14 years in Syria and Cilicia
(1) Missionary work in the area; then invited by Barnabas to be part of the leadership of the church in Antioch (Acts 11-12) 46-48(2) ‘1st journey’: With Barnabas to Cyprus, Pamphylia and Galatia (Acts 13-14) 48/49E. Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15; Gal 2:1-10)

49-52F. ‘2nd journey’: With Silas (Acts 15:36-18:22)
49/50-5118 months in Corinth (1 & 2 Thessalonians)
52-57G. ‘3rd Journey’: (Acts 18:23-21:14)
(1) From Antioch to Ephesus
52-55(2) 3 years in Ephesus
Summer 55Arrest and imprisonment in Ephesus
55-56(3) Macedonia
56(4) Achaia: 3 months in Corinth
57-59H. Jerusalem and Caesarea: arrest, imprisonment, appeal (Acts 21:15-26-32) 59-60I. Journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16)
60-62J. 2 year house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16-30)

Uncertainty after 62:
(a) Probably execution between 62-64
(b) Possibly release and further mission work and execution in later 60’s

Paul’s letters
When was it written?
Where was it written?
To whom was it written?
1 Thessalonians
50-51 AD
Corinth, Greece
People in Thessalonica, in North Greece
2 Thessalonians
50-51 AD
Corinth, Greece
People in Thessalonica
1 Corinthians
56 AD
Ephesus, Turkey
People of Corinth in Greece
2 Corinthians
56 AD
Ephesus, Turkey
People of Corinth in Greece
Galatians
56 AD
Ephesus, Turkey
People of Galatia in Turkey
Romans
57-58 AD
Corinth, Greece
Christian people in Rome
Ephesians
61-63 AD
From captivity in Rome
Ephesians in Turkey
Philippians
57 AD
From captivity in Rome
Philippians, North East of Greece
Colossians
61-63 AD
From captivity in Rome
To the congregation at Colossus in East of Ephesus in Turkey Philemon
61-63 AD
Captivity in Rome
Philemon from Colossus, Greece
1 Timothy
65 AD
Macedonia, Greece
To Timothy in Ephesus, Turkey
2 Timothy
65 AD
Macedonia, Greece
Timothy in Ephesus
Titus
65 AD
Macedonia, Greece
Titus in Crete, Greece

Paul’s Letters: Form and Function
Paul’s letters follow a stereotyped form, generally following the typical pattern of a Greco-Roman letter. But Paul makes some interesting alterations to the typical pattern, giving them a distinctive form.

Salutation
The standard pattern is Author to Addressee, Greetings. Paul expands on any one of this components, and instead of the usual “greetings” begins with the statement of “grace and peace”. Thanksgiving

A typical letter began with a thanks to gods for good health. Instead, Paul begins with a distinctly Christian thanksgiving and prayer, and often introduces his major concerns indirectly in this section. Central section, body

In this section we find (1) information exchange and updating, particularly about Paul’s recent travels or future travel plans, and past and future visits to the congregation (2) various topics of teaching and doctrine, and (3) practical exhortation, called “paraenesis”. These elements are not always neatly separate. Closing

A typical letter, one finds here a wish for good health, greetings, and a “farewell”. At the closing of his letters, Paul might include all or some of the following: (1) benediction and peace for the congregation; (2) doxology; (3) greetings [greetings from and greetings to; and sharing of “holy kiss”]; (4) final note with his own hand, a sort of signature [in 1 Corinthians, Galatian, Palm, 2 Thess].

All of Paul`s surviving letters were probably dictated to a secretary/scribe (called an “amanuensis”), and were carried by personal courier, probably a co-worker or some other traveller going in the right direction. The letters functioned as a substitute for Paul’s own personal presence; their purpose was to maintain, restore, or initiate a relationship between Paul and his readers. All the letters were intended for public reading in the gathered “assembly”.

Of many themes and topics the Apostle Paul addresses throughout his 13 epistles, the following perhaps are the most prominent:

1. The Lordship of Christ
“... Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of the Lord, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” – 1 Thess. 2:12

“God is the ‘Lord’ (kyrios) of missionary work and of church work.” – 1 Cor 3:5

The Lordship of Christ is the most prominent and is evident throughout Paul’s letters, perhaps no better summarised that when Paul said, “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cursed.” – 1 Cor. 16:22. The term Lord is cited almost some 300 times throughout Paul’s writings.

2. Resurrection
“But now Christ is risen from the dead...” – 1 Cor. 12:20

“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David...” – 2 Tim 2:8

Paul’s insight into the resurrection is remarkable, and possibly attributed to no other source than the revelations apparently given to him. Paul focused his exposition on who Jesus is. “regarding His son who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 1:3-4

3. Justification
“Jesus Christ our Lord was delivered over death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” – Romans 4:25” “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1 Paul asserts that no one is justified by their works or law keeping. – Romans 3:20 This recurs throughout Paul’s writings, with “justified” and “justification” occurring some 24 times in his epistles. 

4. Grace
“For by grace you have been saved through faith...” – Ephesians 2:8

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” – Romans 3:24

Paul is renowned for his ‘grace and peace’ greetings from the Lord Jesus Christ that appear in practically all his salutations and some of his benedictions. Also, God’s grace is God’s free gift. (Eph 3:7) The word “grace” appears some 90 times throughout Paul’s epistles.

5. Faith
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” – Romans 1:17 The word “faith” occurs some 169 times in Paul’s writings, thrice in one verse, Romans 1:17.

Many of Paul’s themes are interwoven and inter-related, and one cannot be isolated from the other.

Paul’s message in Philippine context
Paul is significant in that he sought not only to bridge the gospel to new cultures but also to bridge cultures. Most of Paul’s advice is very situationally geared to apply it indiscriminantly to any situation or culture is a rather dangerous procedure. This is true despite the fact that his direct exhortations that intend to encourage and incite in the letters give the appearance of translatability to any situation. The conceptual framework or structure of ideas with which Paul expresses the gospel is often difficult to translate into a new conceptuality, especially to a non-western one. Nevertheless, having said that, Paul can be seen as a model of inculturating the gospel into a new cultural form and of bridging cultures.

Philippines is a country that is culturally and racially mixed. Like what Paul did in the Greco-Roman world, he not only had to negotiate dynamic of gospel and culture in evangelizing, but also was forced to negotiate different cultural premises of an increasingly cultural diverse church. Paul comes to us as a bridge builder himself of mixed heritage, and as a missionary he ensured the success of the Christian movement worldwide under pressure and several circumstances, which serves as a great example in a culturally and racially mixed country. Paul even said that in the new community, former social and cultural distinctions are to be ended: no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, and no female or male.

Reflection
Apostle Paul’s life serves as an inspiration to all of us who are called to preach the Good News to all creation. He is the best example of an apostle, missionary, pastor, and theologian. And according to him, God is the Kyrios, the Lord of all missionary work. God gives to each believer particular gifts and tasks. Success in missionary work is solely due to God’s power and grace, as only He grants growth. If we are to devote our lives to the Lord, He will be pleased. We, as God’s people have a purpose in this world and that is to proclaim God’s salvation and not to exclude anybody just like what Paul did.

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