Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm studying Acts

In preparation for the Women's Gathering (for Bible Study, Prayer and Friendship) that will be starting at our church next week, I have been reading through Acts and have begun studying it more deeply than ever before. As I have prepared questions to discuss with the women, as well as optional extras for them to study further at home, I am seeing many things more clearly myself. It has been quite eye opening to realise that Acts isn't just a historical account of the actions of the apostles, it is also a detailed theological treatise based upon the actions of the Holy Spirit (without sacrificing historical accuracy). While there are specific passages in other places in the New Testament that teach explicitly about the Holy Spirit, Acts is the book where we can see Him most openly at work.

As well as reading the text of Acts several times and making my own connections, I have also begun reading the earlier chapters of a few commentaries on Acts. I began with The Communicator's Commentary series volume on Acts by Lloyd J Ogilvie (thinking it would be helpful for someone seeking to teach others) but found it had not enough substance and was a bit undisciplined for my taste. Then I tried the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries volume on Acts by I Howard Marshall and found it wonderfully rich but unfortunately just a bit too heavy for me at this time, although I would love to read through it another time if I can find enough of it! I have finally settled on The Message of Acts by John Stott, from the BIble Speaks Today commentary series. This is a great mix of explanation of the Biblical text and helpful connections to present-day Christian life, and matches well to my present needs for helpful teaching.

I am also getting help from Jeff as he reads my draft questions and helps me refine them. He has shown me where I have gaps in what I have brought out from the passages, or where I have missed the mark by a long way, going off on a tangent rather than focussing on the main emphasis of the text itself. It has also been helpful to have him giving me handy hints from his knowledge of the original Greek. Yesterday, for example, he explained to me that the word used for "other tongues" in Acts 2:4 is completely different from the word used later by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:1) which speaks of "tongues of angels", so the two should not be confused.

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