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*COURSE:* The New Testament and its Modern Interpreters # 5100~/3 (7155)
*STUDENT'S NAME: *Ferdinand Funk
*DATE:* June 1st, 1998
The death of Jesus did not bring the movement that he started to an end.
Not long after Jesus’ crucifixion, his followers proclaimed that God had raised him from the dead.
They appeared in Jerusalem and called upon their fellow Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah.
A new stage of development in God’s purpose with his people Israel had begun.
This, they maintained, was predicted by the prophets in the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures.
What the apocalyptic writers had proclaimed had become a reality.
The Christian Church emerged from the crowds of new converts to the faith in Jesus.
For a time, the church existed as a sect within Judaism.
The church began to spread into the Gentile world when the day of Pentecost came.[1]
!!!!!! Date
In order to understand Luke’s[2] interest in the activity of the Spirit of God in the time following the death and resurrection of Jesus it is helpful to know the approximate date when Luke-Acts was written.
“Unfortunately our knowledge of the earliest phase of Christianity is severely limited.
This is due to a lack of sufficient source material.
The only historical narrative about the first twenty years or so of the primitive Christian church is found in the first twelve chapters of the book of Acts.
This book, however, was not written by the mother church of Jerusalem nor by a member of that community.
Neither was it written during the earliest years of the church's development.”[3]
The German Theologian Adolf Harnack[4] has suggested several possible dates.
At first he concluded that the most convincing arguments for the composition of Acts suggested a date at the beginning of the seventh decade.
Later, professor Harnack suggested the date 62 CE, i.e/./ towards the end of the second year after St Paul's arrival in Rome.
Numerous others authors place the writing of Luke-Acts somewhere between 70 CE and 100 CE.
*Purpose of Luke’s writings*
The Book of Acts is the second volume of a two-volume work by the same author: Luke.
It presents a history of the Christian Church from the beginning until the arrival of Paul in Rome.
After several accounts have been recorded by eyewitnesses, the author sets out "to write an orderly account" of the events concerning Jesus (Luke 1:3).
The writer of Luke-Acts gives considerable attention to God’s work of salvation throughout History.
As a theologian Luke puts the events surrounding Jesus’ life and the post-resurrection community in the light of God’s grand scheme of salvation for humanity.
Ernst Haenchen, in /Apostelgeschichte*[5]*/ suggests that Luke concerned himself with two theological questions: the imminent end, and the mission to the Gentiles.
According to Haenchen, the ealy Christians were convinced that they were in the midst of a decisive time in history.
John the Baptist had been the Elijah, and Jesus himself was the promised Messiah.
His resurrection and ascension preceeded his imminent return and the resurrection of the dead.
In the brief intermission until the Parusia the disciples must take the Good News to all corners of the world.
“The author of Luke-Acts divided the history of salvation / /into three main epochs.”[6]
The *first* was the time of the *Law and the Prophets*, which came to an end with John the Baptist.
The prophesies of the Old Testament set the stage for God’s redemptive work.
For generations God’s people had awaited the promised Messiah, who would restore the Kingdom of Israel.
The Prophets had kept Israel’s hopes alive.
For example, the prophet Joel 2:28-32 writes,
/  28 `And //afterward,// I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
29  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30//  //I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31//  //The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
//32  And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls./
In the eyes of the writer of Acts the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of this prophesy.
The record of events in Acts 2 leaves no doubt that the Spirit of God was poured out on all flesh as Joel had foretold.
The *second *period was the lifetime of *Jesus*, when he worked through the power of the Spirit.[7]
In Luke 3 the writer continues to set the stage for the Pentecost experience.
In a time where the Romans and their own religious leaders oppressed the people of Israel[8], they longed to see the Salvation of the Lord.
A number of messianic pretenders and insurrectionist leaders during this time were influencial in keeping messianic hopes alive.
Luke reports, for instance, that the crowd followed John, the Baptist, and were baptised by him in the River Jordan upon hearing his message of repentance.
/15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
16 John answered them, "I baptize you with water.
But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:15-16)./
Luke portrays the “rushing of the violent wind” at Pentecost as the fulfillment of the John’s prophesy.
In his mind the same “creative breath of God” that was present in Creation is at work in the equipping of the apostles.
Luke/ /pursues the connection of Jesus to the Holy Spirit even further,
/21 When all the people were being baptized /(by John)/, Jesus was baptized too.
And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21-22)./
Luke reports that the temptation of Jesus, prompted by the Holy Spirit’s leading into the wilderness, follows immediately after the annointing.
Upon returning to his home town,  Jesus began his ministry with the words from the Prophet Isaiah (61:1-3).
/"The *Spirit of the Lord *is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.
The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21  and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."/
(Luke 4:18).
Certainly, those who had followed Jesus during his life would recognize what Luke was referring to.
They had seen the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
They had heard his opening speech in the synagogue.
They had seen how he had healed the sick and cast out demons.
But, they had also been disappointed when they laid him in the tomb.
They had been puzzled by stories of his resurrection that were told to them by the women.
Without question they had their doubts about the messiaship of Jesus.
If the early Church was to survive and strive it had to be able to make sense of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus within God’s scheme of salvation (/Heilsgeschichte/).
In the time between Easter and Pentecost, after the Ascension, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem, as the Lord had commanded them.
Their lives on hold, they did the only thing that was left for them to do.
They prayed for comfort.
Then it happened!
The *third* period in God’s History of Salvation was the time when the activity of the *Spirit* worked through the Christian Church community and its leaders.
The day of Pentecost fell on the fiftieth day after Passover, at the end of the harvesting season, when all the wheat and barley had been cut and gathered.
The Jewish day of Pentecost marked the end of the wheat harvest.
The Law prescribed that everyone must present a cereal offering of new grain to the Lord.
Thousands of god-fearing Jews who lived in the diaspora come to Jerusalem at this time of year to fulfill their religious obligations at the Temple.
So, we have a whole list of people from different Cities and Territories and Islands, who came to Jerusalem for the Pentecost celebrations.
The impression that the writer of Acts wants to leave on his readers is that this massive seasonal migration to Jerusalem from all corners of the world was the opportunity that God used to implement His plan of salvation.
As the pilgrims returned to their respective homes, they would tell of the great acts of God in the lives of the Apostles.
We notice a similar theme already earlier in the story of Jesus’ Birth in the Gospel of Luke.
God takes advantage of the political maneuvers set in motion by the decree of Caesar Augustus and the census under Quirinius (Luke 2:1-2), to bring His Son into the world.[9]
Again at Pentecost, God is at work through the traditions and religious celebrations of the Jewish people.
In the words of the writer of Acts (6:7)/ the word of God spread.
The number of disciples increased rapidly... /Luke attempts to give an answer to the “amazed and perplexed” crowd that asked, “What is the meaning of all this?”
He offers enough clues to build a convincing argument that God’s work of salvation is entering a new phase with the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:1-12
/1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
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