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IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE BIBLE THAT PUZZLES YOU?

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THE PENTATEUCH --- GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS --- NUMBERS --- DEUTERONOMY --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- SAMUEL --- KINGS --- PSALMS 1-50--- ECCLESIASTES--- SONG OF SOLOMON --- ISAIAH --- JEREMIAH --- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL --- --- HOSEA --- --- JOEL ------ AMOS --- --- OBADIAH --- --- JONAH --- --- MICAH --- --- NAHUM --- --- HABAKKUK--- --- ZEPHANIAH --- --- HAGGAI --- ZECHARIAH --- --- MALACHI --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- READINGS IN ROMANS --- 1 CORINTHIANS --- 2 CORINTHIANS ---GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS--- PHILIPPIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --- 2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- HEBREWS --- JAMES --- 1 & 2 PETER --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- JUDE --- REVELATION --- THE GOSPELS & ACTS

Appendix 1.

The Speeches in Acts.

The question of whether the speeches in Acts genuinely reflect what was said at the time has been hotly debated. Part of the difficulty is clearly that most of the speeches were mainly a precis of actual speeches which would no doubt have been a lot longer, something which can hardly be doubted. So we are not really asking whether we have here the exact words, but whether we have the correct sense and phraseology. Certainly reputable writers did seek to ensure that, when they wrote down what men had ‘said’, their words gave the true meaning of their utterances, as Thucydides strongly affirms. He says that he was, ‘of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what was actually said’, even of speeches which he could not fully recall, and stresses that their content either came from his having heard them himself or from reliable sources. On the other hand he also spoke of making plain ‘those subjective elements which cannot easily be displayed in an impartial narrative, but are indispensable to a proper understanding of events’. He also wanted what the speeches were intending to convey to be made clear. Polybius was actually critical of this and went further, for he insisted that what should be recorded was what was actually said. So it is wrong to assume that it was ‘normal’ in those days just to invent speeches, although no doubt some writers did do so, as some do today.

Thus we would expect a reliable author like Luke, where he had not heard the speech himself, to obtain from his sources what was actually said, and to ensure that those sources would be people who had listened carefully with the intention of remembering, and were people who were used to remembering such things. And they would certainly be helped by the fact that the Biblical quotations used would be familiar to them. Furthermore, as they had no New Testament to consult for an understanding of their faith, and were used to memorising, they would be the more particular to remember words that came from a reliable source. Nor were they likely to forget them. For many of the listeners would treasure up the words that they had heard with a view to passing them on, and would have been careful to remember them correctly because they were Apostolic words, with the result that as they continually passed them on to one audience after another their words would take on a specific, never to be forgotten, form, based on what was actually said, which would also become a treasured memory to others. Having nowhere else to turn for material they would preach what they had heard preached, and would be careful to remember it accurately so that they did not alter the inspired words of the original preacher. Indeed if they did alter the words there would be others who had also heard the original speech who would soon remind them accordingly. For, as Papias tells us, emphasising the importance laid on this by the early church, all would be eager to know what were the actual words of the Apostles. They did care about truth.

Analyses of the speeches have both recognised their different kinds, and to some extent their common approach, with differences seen as depending on the context. And this common approach would seem to be, not that of the writer, but of the early preachers themselves, for parallels to aspects of Acts speeches can be found both in the Gospels and in Pauline letters. Indeed it is now largely accepted that we actually know the main basis for most evangelistic speeches at that time, following a pattern which begins with a brief reference to past prophecy in order to indicate that the time promised by the prophets was at hand, followed by an explanation of the life and activities of Jesus, followed by a description of His death and resurrection duly explained, and all accompanied by explanatory texts from the Old Testament Scriptures, followed by the description of His exaltation, with an application to the need of the hearers at the end calling on them to repent and receive forgiveness. Where speeches differ from this it is mainly because of their special purpose or because of the particular audience that is in mind. We know therefore that we would expect Peter to have spoken as he is said to have done in Acts. Luke must therefore be acquitted from the charge of manufacturing speeches, although clearly he did have a hand in the selection of what part of the content he would use.

The pattern for such speeches was certainly not new. We can trace it backwards to the Gospels, and in Paul’s letters. Consider how John the Baptiser

  • Cited Old Testament prophecy.
  • Preached ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ (Mark 1.4; Luke 3.3).
  • Declared, “Repent, for the Kingly Rule of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3.2 compare 4.17)
  • In proclaiming the coming judgment, promised also the coming of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3.11-12).

When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach, no doubt having given them full instructions on what they were to say, He told them, ‘Preach, saying, “The Kingly Rule of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10.7; ). Luke says they were to preach, “The Kingly Rule of God is come near to you” (Luke 10.9 compare 9.2). And in all cases they were to intimate that judgment awaited those who rejected their message (Matthew 10.14-15; Luke 9.5; 10.11-13).

This is amplified in Mark 1.15 where the preaching of the good news of God was,

  • The time is fulfilled (spoken of by the prophets).
  • The Kingly Rule of God is at hand.
  • Repent you and believe the good news”.

So we already have a pattern of preaching with the central points emphasised that appear in Acts. Clearly Jesus would also have filled this out with references to the Scriptures and instructions on how to amplify this message. After all, the Apostles did not just go out repeating one sentence like parrots.

So the pattern He has given His disciples, and which they had preached on time and again, was:

  • 1) Reference to the fulfilment of the time promised by the prophets.
  • 2) The proclamation of the kingly rule of God as at hand or as having drawn near.
  • 3) The call to repent and believe.
  • 4) The promise of the forgiveness of sins,
  • 5) The warning of imminent judgment to come.

Added by John the Baptiser were the call to be baptised and await the reception of the Holy Spirit. And we may see it as certain that the disciples would also make reference to Jesus and His life and teaching, which were the basis of the Kingly Rule of God.

When Jesus was preparing His disciples for their ministry after His resurrection He

  • Opened their minds to understand the Scriptures’, that is, to ‘all things which were written in Moses and the prophets and the Psalms concerning Him’.
  • Informed them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day.
  • Commanded that ‘repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all the nations’ (Luke 24.46-47).

In Matthew His commission was, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, go you therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28.18-19).

We could now see the overall pattern of preaching taught them by Jesus as expanding to be as follows;

  • 1) Reference to the fulfilment of the time promised by the prophets.
  • 2) The proclamation of the kingly rule of God as at hand or as having drawn near.
  • 3) Reference to His suffering and rising again as declared in the Scriptures.
  • 4) The declaration that Jesus has openly been made Lord and Messiah.
  • 5) The call to repent and believe.
  • 6) The promise of the forgiveness of sins.
  • 7) The call to be baptised in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit on them.
  • 8) The warning of imminent judgment to come.

Thus we should not be surprised to find that this was the pattern which Peter emphasised in his first preaching after the resurrection in Acts 2-4. It was in fact what he had been taught by Jesus Himself. In Acts 2-4 we have four speeches by Peter. The first (2.14-36, 38-39) was delivered by Peter to the crowds assembled on the Day of Pentecost, the second (3.12-26) was to the people after the healing of a lame man, the third and fourth (4.8-12; 5.29-32) were to the Sanhedrin after the arrest of the apostles, and all in general follow this pattern. The speech of Peter to Cornelius in 10.34-43 is similar to the earlier speeches, but it has some special features and suggests even more an Aramaic original.

These first speeches of Peter cover substantially the same ground as we have described above. The phraseology and order of presentation may vary slightly, but there is no essential difference between them. They supplement one another, and taken together afford a comprehensive view of Peter’s approach which seems to have become the standard for early preaching on the basis of what Jesus had taught them. It was based on training given by Jesus when they went out preaching the Kingly Rule of God, but extended to take account of the crucifixion and resurrection, and the exaltation of Jesus. Peter was no longer a novice when it came to preaching, and now the Holy Spirit had come with power.

Consider the basis of the speeches in Acts:

  • Firstly that the time is fulfilled, that is, that the age of fulfilment spoken of by the prophets has come, and that the Messianic age has dawned. "This is that which was spoken by the prophet" (Acts 2.16). " The things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah should suffer, He thus fulfilled" (3.18). "All the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, told of these days" (3.24).

    And this tied in with Jewish teaching for it was a central feature of Rabbinic exegesis of the Old Testament that what the prophets predicted had reference to the "days of the Messiah." In other words they predicted the time of expectation when God, after long centuries of waiting, would visit His people with blessing and judgment, and bring to a climax His dealings with them.

  • Secondly, that this has taken place through the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, of which a brief account is given, with proof from the Scriptures that all took place through "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (2.23).

    This could include, 1) His Davidic descent. "David, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, He would set one on his throne, foreseeing the resurrection of the Messiah ---," who is therefore proclaimed, by implication, to have been born "of the seed of David" (2.30-31; citing Psalm 131.11 compare Psalm 16.10. See Romans 1.3).

    2) His life and ministry. "Jesus of Nazareth, a man divinely accredited to you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by Him among you" (Acts 2.22). "Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up a prophet --- like me; him you must hear in all things that he may say to you" (Acts 3.22; regarded as fulfilled in the preaching and teaching of Jesus).

    3) His death. "Him being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you, by the hands of lawless men, did crucify and slay" (2.23). "His servant Jesus, Whom you caused to be arrested, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. And you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of Life" (3.13-14). "Jesus Christ of Nazareth Whom you crucified" (4.10).

    4) His resurrection. "Whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David says with reference to Him, --- ‘You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor give Your Holy One to see corruption’ " (2.24, 27-28). "Whom God raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses" (3.15). "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead" (4.10).

  • Thirdly, by virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God, as Lord and Messiah and head of the new Israel (receiving all authority in heaven and earth). "Being exalted at the right hand of God --- God has made Him Lord and Messiah" (2.33, 36 compare Psalm 110.1). "The God of our fathers --- has glorified His Servant Jesus" (3.13). "He is the Stone which was rejected by you builders, which was made the head of the corner" (4.11, citing Psalm 118.22). We can compare with this, "Him did God exalt with His right hand, as Prince and Saviour" (5.31). In the words of Jesus in Matthew 28.19, all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth.
  • Fourthly, the Holy Spirit in His people is the proof of Christ’s present power and glory. "Being exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you see and hear" (Acts 2.33). This is referred to earlier by citing Joel 2.28-32 in Acts 2.17-21. See also, "We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit which God has given to those who obey Him" (5.32). The promised baptism (drenching) with the Holy Spirit had come.
  • Fifthly, the Messianic Age will shortly reach its consummation in the return of Christ, a consummation awaited from the beginning. "That He may send the Messiah appointed beforehand for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things, of which God spoke through the mouth of His prophets which have been since the world began" (3.21). This is in fact the only reference in Acts 2-4 which speaks of the second coming of Christ, but in Acts 10 it is seen as part of the apostolic preaching, "This is He who is ordained by God as Judge of living and dead" (10.42). This is the only explicit reference to Christ as Judge in these speeches (compare John 5.22, 27), but as we have seen it was certainly an assumption of the Apostolic ministry during the lifetime of Jesus.
  • Sixthly, and finally, the preaching regularly closes with an appeal for repentance, an offer of forgiveness and of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of "salvation," that is, of "eternal life, the life of the age to come," to those who become Christ’s and one with His people. "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord your God may call to Him" (Acts 2.38-39, referring to 2.21 (Joel 2. 32), Isaiah 57.19). "Repent therefore and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out ---You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant, sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you away from your sins " (Acts 3.19, 25-26, having in mind Genesis 12.3). "In none other is there salvation, for nor is there any other name under heaven given among men by which you must be saved" (Acts 4.12).

    We can compare with this, " Him did God exalt at His right hand as Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins" (Acts 5.31); "To Him bear all the prophets witness, that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (Acts 10.43).

This then is what the author of Acts meant by "preaching the Kingly Rule of God." It is very significant that it follows the lines of the summary of the preaching of Jesus as given in Mark 1.14-15 : "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Good News of God, and saying,

  • The time is fulfilled (spoken of by the prophets).
  • The Kingly Rule of God has drawn near.
  • Repent and believe the Gospel.

Thus the lines of the preaching of John the Baptiser to whom Peter had been a disciple, and the lines that Jesus Himself laid out in His resurrection appearances, together covered everything that Peter said.

The first clause in Mark’s description, "The time is fulfilled," is expanded in the reference to prophecy and its fulfilment in accordance with what Jesus had no doubt taught them while He was alive, and had certainly taught them after His resurrection. The second clause, "The Kingly Rule of God has drawn near," is expanded in the account of the ministry and death of Jesus, and His resurrection and exaltation as Lord and Messiah to receive all authority in heaven and earth, having suffered as the Messiah. The third clause, "Repent and believe the Gospel," reappears in the appeal for repentance and the offer of forgiveness with which Peter’s sermons close. Even if we had not known what Peter preached we could have pieced it together from the Gospels.

That this pattern was acceptable to Paul comes out in the first four verses of Romans. There he describes the Gospel of God as being - promised beforehand by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures (verse 2), concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (verse 3), Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (verse 3), and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. That this included the cross comes out in what follows (Romans 3.24-28) and is stressed in 1 Corinthians 1.18; 2.2; 15.3-4.

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IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE BIBLE THAT PUZZLES YOU?

If so please EMail us with your question and we will do our best to give you a satisfactory answer.EMailus. (But preferably not from aol.com, for some reason they do not deliver our messages).

FREE Scholarly verse by verse commentaries on the Bible.

THE PENTATEUCH --- GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS --- NUMBERS --- DEUTERONOMY --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- SAMUEL --- KINGS --- PSALMS 1-50--- ECCLESIASTES--- SONG OF SOLOMON --- ISAIAH --- JEREMIAH --- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL --- --- HOSEA --- --- JOEL ------ AMOS --- --- OBADIAH --- --- JONAH --- --- MICAH --- --- NAHUM --- --- HABAKKUK--- --- ZEPHANIAH --- --- HAGGAI --- ZECHARIAH --- --- MALACHI --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- READINGS IN ROMANS --- 1 CORINTHIANS --- 2 CORINTHIANS ---GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS--- PHILIPPIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --- 2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- HEBREWS --- JAMES --- 1 & 2 PETER --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- JUDE --- REVELATION --- THE GOSPELS & ACTS