Why Is the Book “Acts of the Apostles” So Important? pt 2

Previously, we examined historical facts concerning Acts. The next two Sundays we will examine the roles of Peter and Paul who played vital roles in the early development of the Church.
A short time after Jesus was crucified, Peter and the apostles began evangelization in Jerusalem. After Pentecost Peter enters center stage as he gives his first “sermon” preaching Jesus Christ as Messiah. Three thousand were baptized that day.
Then Peter cures a crippled man in front of the Jewish Temple. Peter’s second sermon to the Jewish leaders included many Sadducees. The emboldened Peter emphasizes Jesus’ own Resurrection and the concept of afterlife. Next is a series of confrontations the Jewish version of a Supreme Court and Peter and other disciples. We hear the crippled man is still clutching Peter.
Peter constantly returns to the area near the Temple to preach the risen Jesus as Messiah. He never backs down from confronting the Jewish hierarchy. During this time an angel assists Peter to escape imprisonment. The Jewish leadership is now on the verge of putting all of the apostles to death. However, Gamaliel, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, talks them out of it. The apostles are merely flogged.
Peter and the apostles spent about two years (34-35) evangelizing in Jerusalem, but the persecution fervor was increasing and culminates in Stephen being martyred. Now, the apostles expand their missionary efforts north of Jerusalem to cities like Caesarea. Peter and John went north to confirm the hosts of converts Deacon Phillip had baptized.
Luke then introduces us to the notion that Jesus might be for everyone by telling the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Enoch. Peter’s final and crowning moment in Acts is told in the story of Peter and Cornelius “doing lunch.” Cornelius was a retired Roman officer, living in Caesarea. An angel appeared to him and told him to invite Peter to lunch. A good Jew would never enter a gentile household for a meal.
However, Peter was staying in Joppa only a few miles away. Peter, too, had a dream that showed many animals—clean and unclean and the angel said, “Slaughter and eat.” Peter concluded if there are no unclean spirits, then there are no unclean people.
Peter then proceeds to Cornelius’s home for a meal and he realized the Holy Spirit was present in Cornelius’ house. He baptized the entire household. When Peter returned to Jerusalem, the Jewish Christians were very upset with Peter. He then explained to them the two dreams he and Cornelius had experienced and the realization that the risen Christ had come for everyone entered the discussion.
~ Mike Kleinman
Adult Faith Formation Team Member

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