Week of June 17 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Acts 6:1-7

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.3 Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Reflect:  What was the issue in this passage? Why were servant leaders needed? Why did the apostles need other people in the church to step up and serve? 

Consider: The key idea seems to be that ministry is ministry whether it consists of teaching God’s Word or taking care of widows. We tend to look at a passage like this and make distinctions of importance between taking care of widows and teaching God’s truth. Luke does not seem to make such distinction, nor does it appear that was what the Twelve intended. Yes, teaching and prayer claimed priority, but not all disciples were involved in that. God calls different people to different kinds of ministries, and the key lies not in spelling out some level of importance, but being faithful to the call.5

Respond: Are there any groups in danger of going unnoticed in our church? Why? What would be some effective ways to serve these people? What is the result of preaching the gospel without meeting physical or emotional needs? On the other hand, what is the result of meeting needs without the clear preaching of the gospel? According to Acts 6:7, what was the result of this focus on service, and what change did it bring to the church’s ministry?

 

 

5 Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 91.

 

Week of June 17 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Acts 5:33-42

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Reflect: Summarize Gamaliel’s main argument in verses 35-39. What was his reasoning for why the court should not kill the apostles? In what ways was this wise counseling? Why do you think Gamaliel’s reminding the religious authorities that they could never overthrow God successfully convinced them not to kill the apostles? Why was this argument persuasive?

Consider: Gamaliel’s power in the Sanhedrin is subtly reflected in his ordering the apostles to be removed “for a little while.” Such matters were generally the prerogative of the high priest, and his reference to “a little while” reflects his confidence that it wouldn’t take him long to sway the court. He began by urging the court to “consider carefully” what they were about to do to the apostles. Considering that the death penalty had just been suggested, he was implying that this might be a bit rash and bring unfortunate results down on them, particularly given the Christian popularity with the masses. There was a better way. Simply leave the movement alone. Leave it to God. If he was not in it, it would fizzle out (vv. 38–39).[1]

Respond: Bold is deciding to say something when it would be easier to say nothing. In what areas of life is it a challenge for you to speak and it would be easier to stay quiet? How can you work to develop more courage in that area?

 

[1]  John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 171.

Week of June 17 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Acts 5:17-32

But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported,23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to.25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Reflect: As an apostle, how would you feel during the events of verses 18-21? What would you expect to happen next? What does the Sanhedrin accuse the apostles of in verse 28? What assertions in Peter’s response would arouse their fury (vv. 29-32)?

Consider: In many languages, jealous is expressed by an idiomatic phrase, for example, “their hearts burned” or “their livers were yellow.” In some instances, however, one must employ a rather full description of precisely what was involved, such as “they were not happy because everybody liked the apostles” or “they were unhappy because the apostles were doing so much.”[1]

Respond:  How do you think your relationship with Christ and your commitment to the body would be different if persecution was a real threat to your everyday life? What would this do to your faith?

 

[1]  Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1972), 123.

Week of June 17 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Acts 5:1-11

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Reflect: How did Ananias’s and Sapphira’s transaction compare with Barnabas’s? What was at the heart of Peter’s words in verse 4? How would you summarize his comments?

Consider: What is described in this chapter is not a case of church discipline. Rather it is an example of God’s personal judgment. “The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:30–31). Had Ananias and Sapphira judged their own sin, God would not have judged them (1 Cor. 11:31), but they agreed to lie, and God had to deal with them.[1]

Respond: What steps can we take to prevent greed and deception from taking root in our hearts? How is God calling you to give sacrificially for someone else?

 

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 422.

Week of June 17 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Acts 6:7

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Day 1 Read: Acts 4:32-37

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Reflect: Why do you think that Luke included this act of Barnabas in his book? How could Barnabas’s gift have been an encouragement to others? What does it mean for a church to be “of one heart and mind”? How would that affect how they viewed their possessions? What do you think Luke means when he says that they “held everything in common”?

Consider: How could a Levite own property as Barnabas did? Were not Levites prohibited from owning property? (Num. 18:20, 24) The answer may be that whereas the Levites were not to hold land in Israel, they could own land elsewhere. Apparently Barnabas, being from the island of Cyprus, owned land there. It is also possible that his wife owned land in Israel and that they together sold it.[1]

Respond: What affect has the generosity of Jesus Christ had on you? How can your overflow of gratitude make a difference in the lives of others this week? What attitudes or circumstances prevent you from living sharing with sincerity? What can you do about them?

 

[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 364

Week of June 10 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Acts 2:42-47

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Reflect:  What strong evidences of small group community do you see here in these verses?

Consider: Fellowship (koinonia). From koinos, common. A relation between individuals which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest and in each other. The word answers to the Latin communio, from communis, common. Hence, sometimes rendered communion, as 1 Cor. 10:16; 2 Cor. 13:14.5

Respond: Which of these actions—fellowship, worship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism—do you more naturally gravitate toward? Why is the balance of all five important for the individual Christian and the church as a whole? What might happen if we tried to live out these values (worshipping, connecting, serving) on our own? What impact do you think the early church’s community had on its rapid growth (v. 47)? What does the world learn about God through healthy Christian community?

 

 

5  Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 456–457.

 

 

Week of June 10 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Acts 2:37-41

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Reflect: How did the people respond to Peter’s sermon?

Consider: Peter’s response was almost programmatic in that he presented them with four essentials of the conversion experience (v. 38): repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, and receipt of the Spirit.[1]

Respond: Think about sermons that are preached today. Should every sermon result in deep conviction and repentance? How would you explain your response?

 

[1] John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 116.

Week of June 10 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Acts 2:22-36

 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
    my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Reflect: What were the conflicting opinions about Jesus that Peter would have been confronting with his testimony? What are the conflicting opinions about Jesus now?

Consider: A man whose divine mission was clearly shown to you is literally “a man designated/appointed/authenticated by God to you.” “Appointed” is used in the papyri, on inscriptions, and by historians to describe a person who has been appointed to a given office. Understood in that sense, the meaning of the phrase “a man appointed by God” means a man with a divine mission or task. However, the idea is not merely that he was appointed, but that he was clearly shown to have been appointed by God; and this by the miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him.[1]

Respond:  Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11 (25-28) and Psalm 110:1 (34-35). Why do you think he picked these two passages as support for his message? List all the characteristics that describe Peter’s sermon (ex: bold, courageous (v. 22-24).

 

[1] Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 197.

Week of June 10 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Acts 2:14-21

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Reflect: What is the “text” for Peter’s sermon? Why do you think he chose this particular text?

Consider: “but the third hour—nine a.m. (see Ec 10:16; Is 5:11; 1 Th 5:17).[1]

Respond: How should this understanding that we are in the last days impact our preaching and sharing of the gospel? There are two parts to Joel’s prophecy that Peter recited in these verses: a bright, happy part and a dark, terrible part. What is the bright, happy part? What is the dark, terrible part?

 

[1]  Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 175.

 

Week of June 10 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Acts 2:41

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Day 1 Read: Acts 2:1-13

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Reflect: Who was present at Pentecost? What miracle did God work in their hearts? What does this tell us about God’s heart for the nations?

Consider: The day of Pentecost was an annual feast that followed the Feast of Firstfruits by a week of weeks (i.e., seven weeks, or 49 days) and therefore also was called the Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15–22). The name “Pentecost,” of Greek derivation, means 50 because it was the 50th day after the Firstfruits feast (Lev. 23:16).[1]

Respond: What were the two basic reactions of the residents of Jerusalem to the phenomenon of tongues? What does this tell us about the responses we can expect as we proclaim Christ both in our city and to the ends of the earth?

 

[1]  Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 357.

Week of June 3 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Acts 1:12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Reflect: What sticks out to you the most about this season in the life of the early disciples? What do you think it was like when they met together? Why is it important to notice that they were continually united in prayer (v. 14)?

Consider: The way conceived as belonging to the mountain; connected with it in reference to the neighborhood of Jerusalem. A Sabbath-day’s journey, according to Jewish tradition, was about three-quarters of a mile. It was the supposed distance between the camp and the tabernacle in the wilderness (Josh. 3:4).5

Respond: Have you ever felt like you were in a holding pattern—waiting for God to act in some situation in life? Why is that a difficult thing to do? Why it is helpful to have other people around you during that time?

 

 

5 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 444.

 

Week of June 3 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Acts 1:9-11

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Reflect: What was the significance of Jesus’ ascension (vv. 9-11)? What does this teach about Christ’s future coming?

Consider: To have one’s eyes fixed on something is a favorite Lukan expression (the verb he uses here is used fourteen times in the New Testament, twelve times by Luke himself). It means to look at something intently. Furthermore, the form of the verb, as well as the meaning of the verb itself, underscores the intensity with which the disciples were staring into the sky as Jesus was taken away.[1]

Respond: How does it make you feel to know that Jesus prays to the Father on your behalf? Does this truth change the way you view the task Jesus gave you in Acts 1:8?

 

[1] Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1972), 20.

Week of June 3 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Acts 1:6-8

 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Reflect: According to Jesus in verse 8, what purpose does the power of the Holy Spirit serve? Why was the Spirit important for their mission? Why is He important for ours?

Consider: This order of apostolic preaching and success supplies the proper key to the plan of the Acts, which relates first the progress of the Gospel “in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria” (the first through ninth chapters), and then “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (the tenth through twenty-eighth chapters).[1]

Respond:  As a disciple, what is the impact on you of Jesus’ mandate in Acts 1:8? What does it mean to be Jesus’ witness? What are we witnesses to?

 

[1] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 174.

Week of June 3 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Acts 1:3-5

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Reflect: What value, if any, might there have been in having the disciples wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit? Why did God not immediately send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ place?

Consider: The Lord’s post-resurrection appearances attested the reality of the Resurrection. Christ gave many convincing proofs of this. The word “proofs” (tekmēriois) occurs only here in the New Testament and looks at demonstrable evidence in contrast with evidence provided by witnesses. In other words, the Resurrection was proven by touch, sight, and feel.[1]

Respond: What was Jesus’ purpose during the forty days after His resurrection? What does that have to do with us 2000 years later? Do you think the disciples found it easy or difficult to trust Jesus regarding the Holy Spirit? Why?

 

[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 353.

Week of June 3 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Day 1 Read: Acts 1:1-2

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

Reflect: To whom is Luke writing this book? In summarizing his gospel, what does Luke emphasize?

Consider: Of all the New Testament writers, only Luke used the form of a literary prologue. Such prologues were a convention with the writers of his day, and the use of them suggests that Luke saw himself as a producer of literature for the learned public. Acts begins with a “secondary prologue,” a device used for introducing new segments to works consisting of more than one book. Luke’s, of course, was a two-volume work; and Luke 1:1–4 is the “primary preface” for his entire work, including Acts. In Hellenistic literature a secondary preface usually consisted of a brief summary of the prior volume followed by a short introduction to the matter to be covered in the new volume. The preface of Acts gives a summary of the Third Gospel: “All that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up.”[1]

Respond: How would you summarize your own experience with the gospel of Jesus? Who have you shared that with recently?

 

[1] John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 78.

Week of May 27 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Reflect: Why is it important that we examine ourselves before taking the Lord’s Supper? Read verse 29. What is the result of not taking the time to look at your own life before taking communion?

Consider: To avoid such serious offenses, every believer ought to examine himself. Christians must scrutinize their motives and actions to see that they match the significance of the Lord’s Supper. This self-examination is to take place before eating and drinking. The reason for taking time for self-examination is evident: He who participates without recognizing the body of the Lord brings divine judgment on himself.

This verse does not say that the Lord’s Supper should be observed introspectively, with participants focusing mainly on their own hearts. Rather, Paul offered this instruction as a corrective for a specific problem. In general, the Lord’s Supper should be a time of celebration in which Christians focus on Christ’s honor, the church’s unity, and the proclamation of the gospel. The focus should be on others, not on oneself. It is only in the preparation for the Lord’s Supper that individuals must turn their attention inward.5

Respond: Why do we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a church family, and not as individuals? How does the Lord’s Supper encourage biblical community? Have you experienced this?

 

 

5 Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 202.

 

Week of May 27 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Matthew 26:26-28

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Reflect: What instructions does Jesus leave with his disciples? What does He declare about himself?

Consider: Verse 29 anticipates both Jesus’ departure and his return. He warns the disciples that he will not again be drinking (or eating or performing any other part of this Passover liturgy) in the immediate future, but he looks forward to rejoining them for the messianic banquet (recall the imagery of 22:1–14, and cf. Rev 19). The kingdom which is now inaugurated will then be consummated in all its fullness. Jesus’ words may suggest that he refused to drink the fourth and final cup of this particular meal.4

Respond: Why did Jesus choose to institute this meal for believers during Passover? How is the Lord’s Supper different from the Passover? What was Jesus trying to teach the disciples?

 

 

4 Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 391.

 

Week of May 27 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Reflect: What do the bread and wine represent? What is their significance?

Consider: “You do show the Lord’s death” -- The word literally means, ye announce, or proclaim, with reference to the repetition of the actual words used by our Lord. It will be seen that St. Paul does not lend the smallest sanction to the “unfathomable superstition” of a material transubstantiation. “Till he come” --Accordingly the antiquity and unbroken continuance of this holy rite is one of the many strong external evidences of the truth of the gospel history. The ἂν is omitted in the Greek, to indicate the certainty of Christ’s coming. The same Greek idiom is hopefully and tenderly used in Gal. 4:19.3

Respond:  What do relationships with other believers communicate to the world about our relationships with Christ? Paul mentions that when we partake in the Lord’s Supper we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (v. 26). What do you think Paul meant by this?

 

 

3 H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., 1 Corinthians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 365.

 

Week of May 27 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:20-22

20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

Reflect: According to Paul, in what ways were the Corinthians missing the mark when they observed the Lord’s Supper? What effect did this have on the unity of the church?

Consider: The Corinthians thought they were advanced believers, when in reality they were but little children. Paul did not suggest that they abandon the feast, but rather that they restore its proper meaning. “Let the rich eat at home if they are hungry. When you abuse believers who are less fortunate than you are, then you are actually despising the church!” The “agape feast” should have been an opportunity for edification, but they were using it as a time for embarrassment.2

Respond: As followers of Jesus, why is our unity and commitment to the body so important? How have you experienced this personally?

 

 

2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 605.

 

Week of May 27 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: 1 Corinthians 11:26

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Day 1 Read: 1 Corinthians 11:17-19

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

Reflect: What issue does Paul address in these verses? How is he certain of his accusation?

Consider: The church was divided at a celebration which was meant to express unity (cf. 10:17). If these divisions (schismata; 1:10; 12:25) were related to those noted earlier (1:10–4:21), then one factor contributing to those divisions is evident here, namely, economic differences in the church (11:21). Paul did not want to believe the report about their divisions (v. 18b), but he knew that sin was inevitable and would not pass unnoticed by God. God’s approval (dokimoi) resumed a point Paul had discussed earlier (1 Cor. 9:27–10:10), where he used in 9:27 the contrasting word “disqualified” (adokimos).1

Respond: What divisions are present in our church today? On what are those divisions based? In what ways do you contribute to those divisions? In what ways do you help break down division?

 

 

1 David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 530–531.