Temple and Community in the Acts of the Apostles

As with the gospels, there is a need to ask more fundamental questions about the theology of worship in this New Testament book (p. 136). In this chapter, the author sums up the gospels by focusing on the book of Acts. He focuses on the community of believers who met together after the death and resurrection of the Lord. He pointed out that this community still met around the temple. It still served their beliefs. The transition from the temple to Christ would take time. It wouldn’t happen for some time. Things start to transition with Stephen.

In the temple area, Stephen stands on trial and tells of seeing Jesus next to the Father. He ultimately dies for Christ. His willingness to die for what He saw had a ripple affect on this young community of believers. Everything made sense to them. They began to understand what Christ taught them. Stephen’s defense is designed to point Israel away from the temple to the resurrected and glorified Son of Man (p. 142). He focused on Jesus being exalted to the highest position because of the sacrifice he made. From that point, Peter went with the message of the resurrected Christ. Soon after that, Paul entered for the cause of Christ.

The Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of these men. He directed them, gave them power, and changed the hearts of people forever. This world was changed because of His work. This ultimately led to the new covenant. Followers of Christ worshiped God under this new blood agreement. Christ’s blood was the payment for this new worship agreement with Israel. It was the central reason for believers to gather together. It was the glue that held the fellowship together. They had a purpose and drive to change the world with the message of Christ. For the first time in the history of Israel that anyone was able to come to God.

I sure am glad that things happened the way they did. My life actually depends on it. I am not Jewish. I did not grow up in that culture. I grew up with Christ as the central point of life belief system. I believe that the community of believers set the stage for the church, as we know it today. It created the framework for our establishments. However, I don’t think we do church the same way the first century believers did church, but we still do worship God.

Sharing the same name as the first martyred believer puts a bit of pressure on me to be willing to die for my faith. I should not be afraid of what I believe. I should not make excuses for what I see in life. I need to be bold like the one I share the name with.

I have learned to be bold for Christ.

Reference

Peterson, David. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1992.

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