MARKHAM LUTHERAN CHURCH - Baptized to serve.
Sunday's Scriptures in Context

The Book of Acts

The Acts of the Apostles is the story of the early Church, told through the experiences of its leaders.  The word apostle is based on a Greek word that means "one who is sent out." The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church at Pentecost, fifty days after Easter (Pentecost means fifty).  It was probably written about 80-85 C.E. and, like the Gospel which bears his name, is attributed to Luke,  referred  to in Colossians as a doctor and a disciple of Paul.  Traditionally he has been identified as a Greek, but some scholars think he may have been a Hellenic Jew who had become a follower of Christ through Paul's ministry.  It was a common practice in ancient times to attribute authorship to an individual of note, so we can't know for sure that the actual author of the Gospel and Acts was Luke the physician. The author was obviously educated, fluent in Greek, and possessed of a fine literary style. Scholars refer to the books of Luke and Acts as Luke/Acts and treat them as a double volume, meant to be read and studied together, because the story of Christ in Luke then broadens into the story of the early Church in Acts. The Gospel according to St. Luke ends with the story of the Ascension.  Acts begins with it.  At the heart of the Book of Acts, as throughout the Bible, is the story of God's love and grace in Jesus Christ. It is a book of faith, for all people.  


The Book of 1 John

Martin Luther called 1 John "an outstanding epistle."  The Gospel of John and 1, 2 and 3 John seem to be thematically and theologically related. In 1 John the writer asserts that the truth of Jesus has always existed (echoing the Gospel of John's opening words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God").  1 John also tells us that the Word became flesh and offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins and restored our relationship with God (note: not God's relationship with us, our relationship with him). 1 John admonishes those who claim to be followers of Christ to live that way! If we truly love the Lord, we'll love our fellow creatures and work for justice and healing in our world.    


The Gospel according to St. John

The gospel of John is attributed to the disciple John, or to one of his disciples, but we don't really know who wrote it.  It was a common practice in ancient times to write in the name of a well known authority.  Even to a first time reader, it's obvious that the Gospel of John, written about 90-110 C. E., is very different from the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  John begins by describing Jesus as the Word of God made flesh. Although he includes many of the same events of Jesus' ministry as the other Gospel writers, they're in a different order and the focus is on Jesus' Godly identity, including his own description of himself as I AM. The Gospel of John is more interested in Jesus as God who has returned to his people, bringing his Kingdom to the world and connecting heaven to earth.  God chose to become incarnate in the human race.  He came to save his people from their sins, and his coronation as their King took place on the cross. He has swallowed up death (depicted in the ancient world as a monster who swallowed his prey) and his Spirit is alive in the world through his people.






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