• Church,  Hermeneutics,  New Testament

    Is the Book of Acts a Template for the Church?

    Many readers struggle with the book of Acts because they assume that it has to be a model for us to follow. Reading through the book of Acts we might wonder why we don’t speak in tongues, perform miracles, or exercise control over demons. But even on the more practical level, some read the book of Acts as a pattern for church growth. Similarly, I once heard a well-known Christian speaker say that he was in the process of rethinking how his church operated because when he compared his church with the church of Acts, he didn’t see enough similarities. The problem with this view is that the book of Acts was not written to be a template for the church to follow. Rather, the book of Acts is a historical record of how the church developed. The Connection between Acts and Luke One of the ways we can tell…

  • Law,  New Testament

    Paul was (sometimes) against Circumcision

    In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas were involved in one of the biggest controversies of the early church. The issue was whether or not someone could be a Christian without circumcision. After much discussion, the Jerusalem Council affirmed the message of Peter and Paul, that God’s grace extends to Gentiles as Gentiles. In other words, circumcision was deemed as unnecessary to be a part of the church. This decision was confirmed by Paul in Galatians 5:2-3, 6: Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law…. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Earlier in Galatians Paul recounts how certain Jews compelled Titus to be circumcised (Gal 2:3). Yet, Paul would not…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament

    Does Baptism Save You? Looking at Acts 2:38

    There are a few texts that seem to indicate that baptism saves an individual. In order to work through the apparent contradiction in Scripture, many will cross reference other texts to explain away the passage. Last time I pointed out that it doesn’t make sense to read one passage upon another. It can be helpful to cross reference, but the key to understanding Scripture is identifying authorial intent. The key to proper biblical interpretation involves knowing the author, the audience, the purpose of the passage, and the context. Knowing this information keeps us from injecting our own meaning or purpose into the text. It also helps us derive our theology from what the text means rather than conforming the text to our own theology. Coming off of last post, I thought it would be helpful to use Acts 2:38 as a test case for a proper contextual interpretation. What follows…

  • Old Testament

    Levites, the Land, and Acts 4:36-37

    It is a well known fact that the Levites as a clan were not given their own land allotment amongst their fellow clans. The Levites were not left completely homeless however, for they were given cities to dwell in among their brothers (cf. Josh 14:4). One of the common conceptions is that this means that Levites never owned land. However, there are two passages in particular that seem to indicate that it was allowable for Levites to own land, as long as it was in the city (or part of the pasturelands of that city) which belonged to the Levites. The first text is Jeremiah 32:6-8 where the Lord himself tells Jeremiah (a priest himself, thus being of the tribe of Levi) to buy the field of his uncle in Anathoth. Now Anathoth is in the land of Benjamin, and according to Joshua 21:18 this specific land was given to…