It seems like it’s been a long time since I have written to tell you about all the crazy and wonderful things that are going on at the Institute right now. We have spent a big chunk of our time working on our personal belief statements. So far, we have written and discussed our rough drafts on God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity. This Sunday evening, the draft of our belief of “Man, Sin, and Salvation” is due. These are mind-blowing things to tackle by themselves, but, on top of all of that, we have our regular topics that we discuss each week in class. We spent on time on the Trinity, Parables, and, most recently, the Book of Acts with Mitch Maher. This was a week that I was really excited about because Acts is a book that I had not spent much time in before. Unfortunately, I was sick for the majority of the week, so I wasn’t physically able to glean from it as much as I wanted to, but I did take some valuable things away from this week.
I love Mitch’s teaching style because he breaks down the points that he wants to make in a very logical and concise way. I especially liked the way that he divided the Book of Acts. Before presenting the divisions of the book that he preferred, Mitch also showed us some other accepted ways to divide the book. The first way to look at Acts is divide the book biographically, first looking at the ministry of Peter in chapters 1-12 and then looking at the ministry of Paul in chapters 13-28. The second is to look at it geographically. This idea is based off of Acts 1:8, which states, “…and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The setting of the Book of Acts begins in Jerusalem (chapters 1-7), then moves to Judea and Samaria (chapters 8-12), then to the “remotest parts” with the missionary journeys of Paul (chapters 13-28).
The third way to look at the Book of Acts, and the perspective that Mitch prefers is to break it down in a series of progress reports. There are similar phrases all throughout Acts that refer to growth, strengthening, and spread of the believers and the Christ-following community. For example, in Acts 16:5, it says “…the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number daily.” If you’re looking at it this way, Acts can be divided into seven “progress reports” at the end of each section. The first progress report in Acts 2:47 concludes the section on “The Birth of Church in Jerusalem” (1:1-2:47). The second is “The Expansion of the Church in Jerusalem” (3:1-6:7). Next is “The Extension of the Church to Judea and Samaria” (6:8-9:31), then “The Extension of the Church to Antioch” (9:32-12:24) , “The Extension of the Church to Asia Minor” (12:25-16:5), and “The Extension of the Church to the Aegean Area” (16:6-19:20). Finally, we see the culmination in the book in “The Extension of the Church to Rome” (19:20-28:31).
It was very helpful to have Mitch go through the missionary journeys of Paul and spell how out how he traveled, where he went, and the books that he wrote around that time. For those of you who know me, you know that I LOVE geography, so it’s always fun to see how the Church first began in Jerusalem and then spread from there to the rest of Judea, Samaria, Antioch, Asia Minor and beyond!
Paul’s first missionary journey was to Antioch of Syria around 40-49 AD. After this journey, he wrote the Book of Galatians. His second missionary journey was to Corinth in approximately 50-59 AD. During this journey, he wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The third was to Ephesus, Macedonia, and Corinth from 56-57 AD, during which he wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans, and the fourth was to Rome from 60-62 where he ended up in prison. While he was awaiting trial in prison, he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. After his release, he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus and possibly traveled to Macedonia. Finally, he returned to Rome for his final imprisonment in 67 AD and wrote the book of 2 Timothy.
What an incredible week of study despite being under the weather. So excited for what next week holds!