Bible Reflection: Jesus is the Christ

After staying in Antioch some time,
Paul left and traveled in orderly sequence
through the Galatian country and Phrygia,
bringing strength to all the disciples.

A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria,
an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus.
He was an authority on the Scriptures.
He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and,
with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus,
although he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue;
but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him,
they took him aside
and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.
And when he wanted to cross to Achaia,
the brothers encouraged him
and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.
After his arrival he gave great assistance
to those who had come to believe through grace.
He vigorously refuted the Jews in public,
establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.-Acts 18:23-28

In the first reading of today’s mass we read about a man by the name of Apollos.  St. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that he was well versed in the scriptures, was a great orator, and spoke boldly for Christ.  Those in the synagogue opposed him at every turn, and Priscilla and Aquila took him under their wing and helped him to explain the scriptures even more accurately. In short, he was open to correction and wanted to teach right doctrine.  Having learned from this correction he refuted the Jews that denied Christ, and established through scripture that Jesus is the Christ.

We can lean something very helpful from Apollos.  No matter how much training, or how much others praise us we must remain humble.  We must be open to correction especially to those appointed over us.  This will help us better proclaim that Jesus is the Christ as the scriptures teach.  Let’s make it a daily goal to study the scriptures, pray, and perhaps even look for a spiritual director that can help us learn the faith in a deeper way.  In addition, lets be open to the Holy Spirit and proclaim Christ just as Apollos did.

Quote

The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant.”
-St. Anthony of Padua

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Apostle Paul and the Book of Acts

Paul was the greatest missionary and evangelist in the history of the Christian church.  His background as a Pharisee gave him a great understanding of Jewish law.  He used this to his advantage on several occasions.  Though his greatest missionary trips were to gentile lands he used his rabbinical training to relate to Jews as well.  In Philemon 3:5 Paul calls himself the “Hebrew of Hebrews.” [1]   This phrase indicates that Paul was born of Jewish parents and probably learned “Aramaic and traditional Jewish customs at home.” [2]  He was trained by the Pharisee Gamaliel who is mentioned in Acts 5:34-39 as saying if Christianity is not of God it will die out [3].  Paul deviated from the advice of his teacher and did everything to destroy the church prior to his conversion.

There is little, if any, information about the early life of Paul.  It appears that he was born in A.D. 10 as Saul in Tarsus, and at the age of fourteen shipped off to Jerusalem to train under Gamaliel [4].  Rabbis were also trained in a trade so they can survive in society, and Paul was trained as a tent maker.  This would prove valuable in his various journeys as this was his way of supporting himself.  Ironically this is pretty much all we know about his early life.  Everything else comes from the book of Acts.  Acts is vitally important to understanding how zealous Paul was for Judaism, and how passionate he was to destroy Christianity.  Not only have that, but the absence of clear dates made it “difficult to establish accurately the dates for the events in Paul’s life.” [5]  With that being said we have some external sources that tell us of events.  One of those is the Gallio Inscription which suggests that “Paul appeared before Gallio in Corinth either in the Summer of A.D. 51 or 52.” [6]  The Martyrdom of Paul occurred under the tyrant Nero around A.D. 64.  Evidence for this is found in the book of 1 Clement 5-6.  The book of Acts is vital in determining a chronology of events in the life of Paul as there is little other evidence out there.  I speculate that this is because Nero was doing everything to kill off Christianity, and this included any historical references.  Of course this is pure speculation on my part.

The Apostle Paul engaged in three missionary journeys.  After his conversion he “stayed in Damascus a short time (Acts 9:19b) before leaving for ‘Arabia’.” [7]  Little is known about what precisely happened there.  It is speculated that he was “hammering out his theology.” [8]  We do know that he went from Arabia, then at the request Barabas went from Jerusalem to Antioch.  “While they were in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas took gifts from the church at Antioch to relieve poverty among Jerusalem believers.”  [9]  They then went on Cyprus with John Mark to minister to the Jews.  Upon being rejected they found great success in ministering to the Gentiles.  On the second journey Paul refused to take Mark.  Paul then went to the churches in “Asia Minor, Lystra, Iconium, and Derbe.  He crossed the Aegean sea and for the first time visited Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth [10].  On the third trip he visited the same places as before, but spent three years in Ephesus.  He was then arrested and held for several years.

 Works Cited

[1] Philemon 3:5

[2]  Lea, Thomas D., and Black.  The New Testament: Its Background and Message.  2d ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2003, 346-347.

[3]  Acts 5:34-39

[4]  http://www.biblestudyinfo.com/paul/biography.shtml

[5]  Lea, Thomas D., and Black.  The New Testament: Its Background and Message.  2d ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2003, 349.

[6]  Ibid, 349.

[7]  Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo.  An Introduction to the New Testament.  2d ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005, 363.

[8]  Ibid, 363.

[9]  Lea, Thomas D., and Black.  The New Testament: Its Background and Message.  2d ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2003, 347.

[10]  Ibid, 348.

[11]  Ibid, 334.

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