We met last night to cover the second lesson in the Little Rock Scripture Study on Acts of the Apostles. The deacon stood in for the pastoral associate. That made little difference since he was just returning from a business trip and had prepared the wrong week's lesson.
I also was returning from vacationing out of town but had managed to read the text and commentary before leaving. I crammed the week's worth of questions into an hour. They were easy questions. Much less work than the Matthew study. The text covered chapters 3 to 5, including that curious story about Ananias and Sapphira.
Several questions include in parentheses references to other books of the Bible in order to answer fully. So, a personal application of the story of Peter and John healing the cripple (3:4-6) asks in what ways are we to help those in need. The references point to Genesis 18, Matthew 10:41 and Romans 12:13-18 but I didn't have to look them up. I knew that Genesis 18 is about hospitality, Matthew 10:41 is about giving a cup of cold water and Romans 12 is about how to get along with people in community.
Can the question be answered without looking up the references? Of course. Everybody knows about helping those in need. But the lengths that the Bible recommends might be just beyond what comes naturally. And so, we won't know how much is called for (and how much grace is needed) unless we reference the recommended texts. It's a Bible study.
One of the questions directed an analysis of Isaiah 53 from the perspective of fulfillment in Jesus' passion. Nobody else had a Bible with them, so I opened mine (cheaper editions elsewhere) and read the verses that resonated. I just assumed everyone was familiar with the passage but maybe it's only familiar from stations. Our deacon said Isaiah originally wrote it for a contemporary king but it also applies to Jesus. I hadn't heard that before and initially thought he was rather thinking of earlier Isaian chapters (7 and 9). But then I came up with a possible royal candidate and asked him whether it was Hezekiah. He didn't know. But I've since searched and found some support.
An aspect of Peter's preaching in the early chapters of Acts that I find interesting is the technique the commentary calls "pesher." It's only since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that we've fully understood this Jewish method of interpretation. It involves plugging specific, contemporary names into general, ancient prophecies. So, in chapter 4, Peter quotes Ps. 2:1-2 before the Sanhedrin and explains that Herod and Pontius Pilate stand in for the "kings of the earth" and "rulers."
I read a footnote in the LRCSB to answer someone's question about Acts 3:21 - an apocalyptic designation of the messianic age, fitting in with the christology of Acts 3:20 that associates the messiahship of Jesus with his future coming. Another participant asked where, in Jesus' own words, he said he was coming again. I read Matthew 24:3ff.
From the video, I learned that Luke is building a legal case in the early chapters of his Acts. He is showing his side as being righteous and the other side as being criminal. He is showing by the healing miracles in Jesus' name that Jesus is not dead but still alive. I immediately developed an even greater appreciation of Luke's careful presentation.
I had seen a friend from Jim's study there last Friday morning after mass but didn't see her again this morning. I didn't actually have time to hang out after mass so maybe she eventually arrived. Another friend from his study said she also planned to attend on Friday mornings but I didn't see her either.