What is Easter Really All About? (Telling the “Big Picture” Story of the Bible #6)

What is Easter?  Maybe you think of Easter bunnies and eggs.  Maybe you think of candy.  There is nothing wrong with any of these things.

Maybe if you are a Christian, you think of individual salvation, not going to Hell, or going to Heaven.  And all of these things are true.

But what If I told you that Easter was about so much more than this?

Through the whole story of the Bible, God’s people are waiting for God to step into space and time once again, through the Messiah, to set things right once and for all.  Over and over God had promised many things to the people: that His kingdom would reign forever and ever, that God and the people would finally be together, that their relationship would be restored, and on and on. Continue reading

What if the Book of Acts was written as evidence for Paul’s trial?

(Remember–the “What If…” series are not necessarily ideas I think are true–just ideas that are fun to think about and could possibly be true.)

Most of us have heard of the Apostle Paul.  He was a fervent defender of the Jewish faith…until Jesus appeared to him and he converted to Christianity himself.  After this, he went on missionary journeys, founding churches and sharing the Gospel of Jesus with many people.  He also wrote many letters to both churches and individuals, some of which were preserved in the New Testament.  The end of Paul’s story as we have it in the Book of Acts is that he gets arrested for treason.

What if Luke wrote the Book of Acts as evidence in Paul’s trial?  What evidence do we have to think this?

1.  Luke introduces the Book of Luke (the first volume of Luke-Acts) by addressing the work to the “most excellent Theophilus”.  The title “most excellent” could mean that Theophilus was a government official–in this reading, an official involved with the trial.

2.  The Book of Acts spends many more chapters on a much shorter period of Paul’s life because that period of Paul’s life would be important to the trial.  Chapters 21-28 are spent on Paul’s life in relation to his trials, which took place over 4 years, versus Chapters 1-20, which cover 24 years.

3.  The Book of Acts ends without telling us how the trial ended.  Surely this shows that the trial had not yet finished by the time Luke finished writing Acts.  This would of course be the case if Acts was meant to be used as evidence.

4.  Acts 28:30 says that Paul had been under house arrest for 2 years.  Paul was a Roman citizen.  According to Roman Law, the accused prisoner had the right to a “speedy trial”.  Perhaps this mention of the 2 year house arrest was to show Theophilus that Paul’s rights had been violated.

Was the Book of Acts written to be used in Paul’s trial?  I don’t know.  But it seems to be a possibility!

The Gospel of Paul (Making Sense of Christianity #3)

“Gospel of Paul? This guy’s lost his mind!”

Yeah, I can hear you now. Okay, I admit it, Paul didn’t have a gospel in the same way Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had a gospel. Paul did indeed have good news for us, though. In 1st Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul sums up his “gospel” that he says he received from others. Paul does this summary in a list form: Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised on the third day, and he appeared to individuals and groups, the last being Paul on the road to Damascus.  This list is the content of Paul’s gospel. Essentially, it agrees with the 4 gospels–Jesus the Messiah died, was buried, was resurrected and then appeared to witnesses. From a historical point of view, though, Paul’s gospel just might be a stronger foundation to start building a historical case from. Continue reading