WASHINGTON (CNS) — Here is a look at some of the themes and events described in the Acts of the Apostles:
— The Spirit’s coming: The Holy Spirit’s role in the early Christian mission is a theme in the Acts. Benedictine Father Dale Launderville, a Scripture scholar, says that Acts shows “remarkable growth in the church due to the Spirit-guided proclamation” of Christ’s death and resurrection.
— Rapid growth: In Acts the Christian community grows amazingly. Acts repeatedly reminds readers that “the number of disciples continued to grow” (6:1), that one day some 3,000 “were added” (2:41) or that “many of those who heard the word came to believe” (4:4).
— Persecution: Its presence is sensed throughout Acts. St. Stephen’s stoning death is followed immediately by “severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem” (8:1). Signs of persecution appear in the arrests and imprisonments of Peter and Paul. Acts 16:23-24 describes Paul and Silas getting flogged and thrown into prison.
— Council of Jerusalem: This central event of Acts took place when some Jewish Christians urged that gentile Christians be circumcised and keep the law of Moses’ dietary precepts. But the council decided that “we ought to stop troubling the gentiles who turn to God,” only telling them “to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals and blood” (15:19-20).
— Paul is baptized: Acts tells three times how Paul became Jesus’ follower. In the second telling, as he traveled to Damascus “a great light” appeared. He was blinded temporarily. A voice said, “I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.” Later in Damascus “a certain Ananias” told Paul that God “designated you” to “be his witness before al. … Get up and have yourself baptized” (22:6-16).
— Silversmiths’ riot: “A serious disturbance” erupted in Ephesus, in today’s Turkey, when silversmiths making “miniature silver shrines” of the goddess Artemis protested Paul’s statement “that gods made by hands are not gods at all.” Chaos prevailed after the silversmiths predicted respect for the goddess’ temple would diminish due to Paul. But finally the “town clerk” calmed the disturbance (19:23-40).
— Preaching: Acts casts light on the preaching of Peter and Paul, who testified to Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. In the Roman centurion Cornelius’ home, Peter said: “They put (Jesus) to death by hanging him on a tree,” but God raised him. Jesus commissioned those “who ate and drank with him after he rose” to make known that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins” (10:34-42).
Gibson was the founding editor of Origins, Catholic News Service’s documentary service. He retired in 2007 after holding that post for 36 years.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103