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The Book of Acts and the Church
Acts, also known as the Book of Acts, is a biblical text that provides a historical account of the early Christian Church. It covers the period between Jesus’ ascension to heaven and the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul in Rome. The book begins with the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and then goes on to describe the spread of the Christian message throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Roman Empire.
The book of Acts reveals that the Christian Church was born out of the Jewish religion and initially consisted mainly of Jewish converts. However, it quickly began to expand to include Gentiles as well. The book also shows that the early Church was characterized by a strong sense of community, with believers sharing their possessions and caring for one another (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37). The book also emphasizes the importance of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church (Acts 2:42, 4:31).
The book of Acts also illustrates the opposition and persecution that the early Church faced from both Jewish and Roman authorities. The book describes how Stephen, one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles, was stoned to death for his faith (Acts 7:54-60) and how the apostle Paul was arrested and imprisoned several times because of his message (Acts 9:1-30, 16:16-40, 21:27-36, 23:12-35, 28:16-31).
The book of Acts also shows the spread of the Christian message throughout the Mediterranean world. The apostle Paul, in particular, is portrayed as a missionary who travels extensively, preaching the gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike (Acts 13:1-28:31). The book also describes the establishment of Christian communities in various cities and the appointment of leaders to oversee them (Acts 14:23, 15:2-4, 20:17-38).
In summary, the book of Acts reveals that the early Christian Church was a dynamic and growing community, characterized by a strong sense of community, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the spread of the Christian message throughout the Mediterranean world, despite opposition and persecution. The book also gives an account of the spread of Christianity and the establishment of Christian communities in various cities and the appointment of leaders to oversee them.
The book of Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul, Peter, James, Hebrews, and John provide insight into how the early Christian Church functioned and how it should behave today. The book of Acts is a historical account of the growth and spread of the Christian Church from its beginning after the ascension of Jesus until the imprisonment of Paul in Rome. It provides insight into the structure, practices, and beliefs of the early Church.
From Acts, it is clear that the Church should be a community of believers who gather regularly for worship, prayer, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). The Church should also be characterized by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the signs and wonders that accompanied the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:43). The first century had something Christian do not have, the Holy Spirit in a miraculous way. They performed miracles, healed, prophesied, and evangelized in foreign tongues. Today, we have something the first century Christians did not have. We have a complete Bible that was inspired by God as men were moved along by the Holy Spirit, which we now use to guide the church and its people.
Tongues Will Cease Excursion
1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
The verse “where there are tongues, they will be stilled” (1 Corinthians 13:8) is often used by conservative evangelical scholars as evidence for the cessation of the ability to speak in tongues. The Greek word παύσονται used in this verse is often translated as “will cease” or “will be stilled.” This is interpreted to mean that the ability to speak in tongues, which was a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit during the time of the early Christian church, would eventually come to an end.
One argument used by conservative evangelical scholars to support this interpretation is that in the book of Acts, only the apostles had the ability to lay hands on someone and give them the ability to speak in tongues. This suggests that the ability to speak in tongues was a unique characteristic of the apostles, and that it was not something that was meant to continue on in the Church after the apostles had passed away.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that in the second century speaking in tongues is never mentioned again, this is considered as an indication that the ability to speak in tongues had indeed ceased or died out.
It is important to note that different Christian traditions and denominations may interpret this verse differently, and not all agree with the idea of the cessation of the tongues.
Greek grammarians like Daniel B. Wallace have commented on the Greek word παύσονται, which is translated as “they will be stilled” in 1 Corinthians 13:8, in the context of the cessation of tongues in Christianity. Wallace argues that the Greek verb form used in this verse, the future passive indicative, indicates that this cessation is a future event that will happen to the gifts of tongues and prophecy, rather than something that the Corinthians themselves can control or bring about. He also notes that the word “stilled” suggests a permanent cessation, rather than a temporary cessation.
In addition, Wallace points out that the word “perfect” in the same verse, which is translated from the Greek word “teleios,” can also be understood as “complete” or “mature.” He argues that this suggests that the gifts of tongues and prophecy were only temporary means of communicating the revelation of God, and that they would be replaced by something more complete or mature in the future.
Overall, Wallace and other conservative evangelical scholars believe that the historical context and original meaning of 1 Corinthians 13:8, as well as the broader biblical narrative and the historical trajectory of Christianity, support the idea that the ability to speak in tongues in the first century ceased and died out, and this is consistent with the historical record that in the second century speaking in tongues is never mentioned again until modern Christianity.
End of Tongues Excursion
The Apostle Paul, in his letters, emphasizes the importance of unity within the Church, despite its diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). He also stresses the importance of love and service within the Church, with a focus on building each other up and encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Additionally, Paul teaches that the Church should be actively sharing the gospel with non-believers (1 Corinthians 9:16-18)
The letters of Peter, James, and John also stress the importance of living a life of holiness and obedience to God’s word (1 Peter 1:13-16, James 1:22-25, 1 John 2:3-6). The letter to the Hebrews encourages perseverance in the faith and the importance of holding fast to Jesus Christ as the foundation of our faith.
Expelling Unrepentant Sinners from the Church
From a biblical perspective, the book of Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul, Peter, James, and John, all speak to the importance of maintaining the purity and holiness of the Church. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul addresses the issue of a man committing incest within the Church and instructs the Corinthian Church to expel him from their fellowship. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul instructs the Thessalonian Church to withdraw from any member who refuses to work and is living in idleness. In 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul instructs Timothy to expel certain individuals from the Church who have departed from the faith and have turned to empty discourse. In 1 John 5:16-17, it is written that if anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death.
Overall, the book of Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul, Peter, James, Hebrews, and John present a picture of the Church as a community of believers united by their faith in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and dedicated to living a life of holiness, service, and sharing the good news of the gospel with others. This is the model of the Church that should be upheld today.