Missional Mandate: Shepherding the Creation

December 9, 2019

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation.  When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in them as they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them. Now, God has renewed Israel through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and called this new Jesus’ community to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth. 

The first vocation is to fill the earth, and disciples of Jesus fill the earth by making disciples.

The second vocation is to subdue the earth by creating order out of chaos, and disciples of Jesus embrace this vocation by subverting and opposing the principalities and powers that presently seek to rule the creation.

The third vocation is, according to Genesis 1:28, is to rule or shepherd the creation, which God loves and will one day liberate from its bondage to decay.

When I described the human vocation earlier in the Theodrama, I noted that ruling the earth was not a function of cruel tyranny but of compassionate shepherding. We rule the earth like shepherds who care for flocks. This is our human vocation, and it is also the vocation of disciples of Jesus because they serve the Lord of creation, Jesus the Messiah.

Our task as human beings has not changed; we are still blessed by God to shepherd the creation. And renewed Israel, the kingdom of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, takes up this task in the midst of environmental chaos and destruction. 

When the Word of God became flesh, God affirmed the goodness of creation. God became part of the creation through the virgin birth. As Jesus ministered within Israel, he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and raised the dead, and, in this way, Jesus affirmed God’s intent to heal the creation itself. When Jesus died, God raised him from the dead and gave him an immortal material body as the firstborn of the new creation, the new heaven and new earth.

Enthroned alongside God, Jesus—along with the one seated on the throne—received the praise of “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them” (Revelation 5:13). All creation praises God and Jesus, and this creation exists by their will.

And our vocation, as disciples of Jesus, is to partner with God in caring for the creation. We protect the air and water of the earth, preserve space for the animals, and care rather than destroy the environment.

We reign with Christ over the cosmos. We are co-rulers, and our rule is a benevolent one rather than a destructive one. In fact, when God finally redeems the creation and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God’s Messiah, God will, as Revelation 11:18 says, destroy “those who destroy the earth.”

As co-regents with Jesus the Messiah, we share responsibility for the earth. It is both our human and kingdom vocation. As a result, let us act responsibly towards the environment, and, at the very least, plant a tree, a garden, or care for the animals.


Missional Mandate – Subduing the Powers

December 5, 2019

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation.  When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in them as they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a  light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them. Now, God has renewed Israel through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and called this new Jesus community to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth. 

The first vocation is to fill the earth, and disciples of Jesus fill the earth by making disciples.

The second vocation is, according to Genesis 1:28, to subdue the earth. But how do disciples of Jesus subdue the earth? In Genesis this means to subdue the remaining chaos within the creation and to co-create with God in a way that brings order to the chaos that remains. We told that story earlier in this series. Here is one example. Software developers bring order to chaotic data so that human beings have a greater opportunity to fully flourish as images of God. My Turbo-Tax software program certainly helps me flourish during tax season as it removes anxiety, orders my financial chaos, and decreases my time investment.

But how does this vocation, to subdue the earth, show up within the kingdom of Jesus? How do disciples of Jesus “subdue the earth?” Just as the kingdom vocation of filling the earth was more than populating it but rather forming disciples in the image of Jesus, so here subduing the earth is more than creating order out of chaos in terms of the natural world but confronting, subverting, and redeeming the chaotic disorder that presently rules the world. 

Jesus called Satan the “prince” of this world, a ruler who wields the principalities and powers that oppose the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. These principalities and powers come in many forms, including empires who oppress others, indwelling sin that enslaves us like an overwhelming addiction, and spiritual forces that array themselves against the Lord Jesus. The church, just as Jesus did in his ministry, confronts these powers, speaks truth to these powers, and subverts the powers by its obedience to the kingdom of God.

The book of Acts records this vocation. When Peter and John were brought before the ruling Jewish council, they spoke truth to that power and declared they would obey God rather than any human authority. When Paul encountered evil spirits in Ephesus, he released the demon oppressed from their bondage, and the disciples confessed, disclosed their practices, and burned their books of sorcery. When Paul was brought before Felix, the Roman governor, he talked about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25).

Subduing the earth is the vocation with which God has tasked humanity—to bring order out of chaos, and this vocation is part of the reign of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus not only make disciples, they also confront and subvert the principalities and powers by their witness to the kingdom of God and by their obedience to King Jesus. Disciples of Jesus subvert and subdue the powers when they become like Jesus their King.


Missional Mandate: Filling the Earth

December 2, 2019

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image upon the earth and blessed them with a vocation. God called humanity to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation. That we are the image of God is our identity, and the task God has given us is our vocation. We are both God’s image and God’s co-worker or partner.

When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in their life. Israel’s was God’s child or image, and they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them.

When God poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, God renewed Israel, and this included Israel’s mission. Now, this new community would extend this human vocation through its commitment to the reign of God in the world through the Lord Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. Renewed Israel was to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth.  While the human vocation is the vocation of renewed Israel, that vocation is also enlarged as now renewed Israel represents the reign of the Messiah and serves the goals of the Messiah for the creation.

The first task of the kingdom of God is to fill the earth. The original commission in Genesis 1 was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” The book of Acts applies this same language to the community of Jesus as well.  For example, Acts 6 uses the same words from the Greek translation of Genesis 1. In Acts 6, “the disciples were increasing (or, multiplying) in number” as the word of God was fruitful and continued to grow and spread. Further, Acts 12:24 says, the word of God continued to advance and gain disciples. Or, to translate it another way, the church continued to grow, that is, to be fruitful, and multiply. The church experienced the blessing of God’s work so that it became fruitful and multiplied.

Just as humanity was fruitful and multiplied in the beginning, and just as Israel was fruitful and multiplied in Egypt and in Canaan, so also the church was fruitful and multiplied in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the earth. The Jesus community is a discipling movement. The disciples grew and multiplied by making disciples, by inviting others into the kingdom of God through faith in God’s Messiah. The early church followed Jesus, who himself made disciples and called his disciples to make disciples by baptizing them into the name of the Triune God and teaching them to follow Jesus in everything.

In this way, the disciples of Jesus will fill the earth with the glory of God. Just as divine imager-bears were to fill the earth with other image-bearers, so now disciples of Jesus are to fill the earth with other disciples of Jesus.

This is part of Paul’s excitement when he writes to the Colossians. He gives thanks to God that just as the gospel “is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among” them from the first day they heard the story of God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:6).

The goal of God is that Jesus himself will “fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10), and part of the process by which Jesus fills the earth is through disciples making disciples. This is our kingdom vocation.


Formation of Community – Prayer

November 28, 2019

Formed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, this new community of Jesus followers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Teaching, eating, and shared resources formed this new community, and prayer also formed them.

Luke is rather specific. He identifies this component as “the prayers.” Most likely, Luke is referring to the daily habit of Jewish believers to pray in the temple at specified hours. For example, we know Peter and John regularly went up to the temple “at the hour of prayer,” which was three o’clock in the afternoon (Acts 3:1). The early community worshipped in the temple daily, and they participated in those daily temple prayers. Prayer, including the singing of the Psalms, continued as part of their heritage of faith. They continued the prayer practices of their Jewish heritage.

Moreover, they embraced the prayer life of their Messiah. As the Gospel of Luke tell us, Jesus had a regular habit of prayer. He prayed at his baptism (Luke 3:21) and transfiguration (Luke 9:28). He prayed in the temple with other Jewish believers (Luke 19:46) and with his disciples (Luke 11:1-2), and he prayed alone (Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18). Disciples of Jesus, like their Messiah, are praying people.

This is what we see throughout the Book of Acts as renewed Israel continues to pray to God. When threatened by the ruling powers in Jerusalem, the church gathered to pray that the good news of the kingdom might have a hearing in their city (Acts 4:31). When threatened by the ruling power, the church gathered to prayer for the release of Peter from imprisonment (Acts 12:5). The disciples engaged not only in a ministry of word but also prayer (Acts 6:4). When they sent people to serve in other places in the world, they prayed over them (Acts 13:3), and when they appointed leaders in various congregations, they prayed over them as well (Acts 14:23). They prayed when in prison (Acts 16:25), they prayed for healing (Acts 28:8), and they prayed in the temple (Acts 22:17).

Prayer was personal, and it was communal. Individuals sought God in prayer, and the community prayed together. It was bold, habitual, and diverse in its circumstances and significance.

Sometimes, it seems, the church is more focused on the teaching than prayer, even the breaking of bread than prayer. But, it appears from the book of Acts, that prayer has a persistence presence that exceeds even the teaching, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. Prayer, we might say, is the glue that held the church together through its many trials, persecutions, and growth spurts. Through prayer, the church depended upon God’s work among them and for them. Through prayer, the church cast a vision for the future and trusted God with that future. We might say, the church co-created the future with God through prayer, and that is the power of prayer itself.


Formation of Community: Fellowship

November 25, 2019

Formed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, this new community of Jesus followers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). While it is possible to understand the breaking of bread and prayers as categories under the heading of “fellowship,” the word “fellowship” also encompasses more than the breaking of bread and the prayers.

The word fellowship, though it includes those bonds that hold a community together, also refers to the material and physical dimensions of shared life together.  They broke bread together, and they prayed together, and they also shared their possessions with each other.

Luke says this early community devoted itself to fellowship and then tells us that “all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44).  The word “fellowship” and “common” are from the same Greek root. This community shared their resources with each other, particularly as each had need. It does not mean they held their property in common but that their fellowship was such that they let go of their property in order to meet the needs of fellow-believers. In this sense, “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common” (Acts 4:32).

They sold their possessions in order to distribute to the needy in their community. Just as Jesus taught his disciples, they sold their possessions and gave to the poor (Luke 12:33; 14:33) so that no one among them had any material need. In this way, renewed Israel also remained faithful  to the Torah which taught that there should be no needy among the people. This included the needs of aliens and immigrants to the land, and Israel was called to share with them as well as their own families and nation. The goal to meet all needs in the land not only included their own kin but also aliens who lived in the land with them (Deuteronomy 26:12).

While “fellowship” is often conceived in terms of spiritual bonds and relationships—and those are part of fellowship, the disciples in the early church were committed to sharing their material goods and possessions with each other as they had need so that no one went hungry or went without basic human needs.

In other words, fellowship in the early church was material, physical, and concrete. It was no mere hand shake and see you later as we each retreat to our homes, but it involved a shared life together, including shared possessions, shared meals, and shared prayers. It was authentic community with deep compassion for each other’s material needs. And, as disciples of Jesus, they were willing to sell their possessions—to divest themselves of their own security and comfort—in order to provide for those who needed what they had.

The fellowship of the early church was tangible and compassionate. This shared life—where people were willing to sell what they had so that others might have what they need—characterized their communal life, and, as a result, people were attracted to them and their community grew.



The Table of the Lord

November 21, 2019

As the newly formed community of Jesus-followers assembled daily in the temple, they prayed together and listened to the teaching of the apostles. And they also gathered in homes as small groups to break bread together.

When Luke, the author of Acts, says that the disciples of Jesus were devoted to the breaking of bread, and that they broke bread daily in their homes, what does he mean by that language?

This is why it is important to read Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke. In that story, Luke describes how Jesus broke bread with five thousand as he feed the hungry who were following him (Luke 9:16), how Jesus broke bread with his disciples during the Passover (Luke 22:19), and how Jesus broke bread with two disciples at Emmaus on the day of his resurrection (Luke 24:30). In each case, the living Jesus acts as the Messiah of Israel by providing nourishment, both physical and spiritual. Jesus is the living host of these tables, both before and after his death. Particularly, in Luke 24, Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to the two disciples in Emmaus. In that moment, Jesus is revealed to the disciples as the resurrected Messiah, once dead but now eternally alive. Jesus is made known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35).

When we read that the disciples in Acts 2 continued to break bread, we may take our cue from what Luke has already told us. Jesus, as the living, resurrected Messiah, continues to host a meal for his community. The disciples gathered daily in their homes to eat a meal together in which they gave thanks for what God had done in Jesus, and in the breaking of the bread Jesus was revealed as the living Messiah, and, consequently, disciples shared their food with joy and generosity.

In these early days of the Jesus community in Jerusalem, the disciples broke bread daily, and as the community spread across the Mediterranean basin, we learn that the disciples in Troas apparently gathered weekly in order to break bread. Like on the day of Pentecost, they broke bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

The confluence of breaking bread, the resurrection of a dead person, and the first day of the week in both Luke 24 and Acts 20 bears strong witness to a weekly gathering to sit at the table of the Lord where the resurrected Messiah hosts the meal as a weekly anniversary of his resurrection.

The table of the Lord, or the breaking of bread, is a meeting place.  It is where individual believers encounter the risen Christ in community with other believers.

At that table, we hear a word of grace: “This is my body which is given for you.” Or, “this is my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” At that table, we hear a word of thanksgiving: “We give thanks to God for the gift of the Messiah through the Spirit.”   At that table, we hear a communal word: “We eat the same bread and drink the same cup as the one body of Christ.”

The table, the breaking of bread, is a word of grace, thanksgiving, and community. It is where renewed Israel, as disciples of Jesus, experience the mercy of God and the joy of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the Living Messiah as we hear the invitation of Jesus, “Come to the table!”


The Teaching of the Apostles

November 18, 2019

As renewed Israel gathered daily in the temple, they listened to the teaching of the apostles, and they committed themselves to that teaching.

The apostles were mentored by Jesus for three years during his earthly ministry, and during forty days after his resurrection, Jesus taught the apostles about the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus had been preaching this gospel from the beginning, according to Luke 4, and he brought it home to the apostles during his post-resurrection appearances. Further, in light of the pouring out of the Spirit in fulfillment of Joel 2, they understood the meaning and significance of God’s reign through Jesus. Now, they were leaders of God’s renewed community.

Since this newly gathered community of God listened to the apostles’ teaching and devoted themselves to it, it is important to pause for a moment to listen to this teaching ourselves. This teaching shaped how the church lived out its life under the reign of God’s Messiah.

From the beginning of the book of Acts until its end, the primary topic of the preaching of the apostles—whether Peter or Paul—is the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. This is what Jesus taught the apostles during their forty days with him at the beginning of the book of Acts (Acts 1:3), and it is what Paul taught in Rome at the end of the book of Acts (Acts 28:31).

But what does it mean to proclaim Jesus and the reign of God?  When we read the sermons in the book of Acts we see a consistent emphasis on the Theodrama.

God, the creator of heaven and earth, chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations to bless all other nations. Though Israel faltered in its faithfulness, God sent the Messiah, who is Jesus, into the world to lead Israel out of exile and invite all races into the kingdom of God to share in the Abrahamic promise. Jesus proved himself a prophet by the signs and wonders he performed and the good that he did. He called Israel back to a renewed life with God through repentance, and embodied the good news of the reign of God in his own life and ministry. And, though the ruling powers executed him, God raised him from the dead and vindicated his message and ministry. In this way, God inaugurated a new day for Israel and for the rest of humanity. God now reigns, and God, through the good news of the kingdom, calls people into a new life of faith, hope, and ministry.

The apostles, if their sermons in the Book of Acts are any indication, announced the theodrama. They told the story of God as it unfolded in Israel and came to its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah. It is a story about God’s mercy and faithfulness, a story about the Messiah who embodied authentic life, and a story about hope in the midst of brokenness.

The apostles taught about the kingdom of God and how Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God. Like Jesus, they proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and that good news—just as Jesus preached it—included the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the liberation of the oppressed, and the hope of the future.


Formation of Community: Assembly

November 14, 2019

On the day of Pentecost, three thousand people were baptized into a new community. They embraced the good news of Jesus the Messiah whom God had raised from the dead and exalted to the throne of David. In its early days, thousands were added to this community, including priests and Pharisees.

The restoration of Israel had begun. People joined Jesus in the water, and they, in effect, crossed the sea with ancient Israel through their baptism.  Moreover, just as ancient Israel travelled to Mount Sinai and there encountered God’s presence who came to dwell in Israel’s tabernacle, so those who entered the water with Jesus encountered God’s presence through the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon them.

Just as Israel was baptized in the sea and under the cloud, so renewed Israel is baptized in water. And, just as Israel encountered God at Mt. Sinai when they assembled before God’s presence, so renewed Israel assembled in the presence of God as well. The same Israel that assembled at Mount Sinai, now, in the first chapters of the book of Acts, assembled on Mount Zion. Israel referred to their first encounter with God as a gathered people at Mount Sinai as the “day of assembly” (Deuteronomy 9:10). Now, on the day of Pentecost, renewed Israel gathered as the people of new creation. They assembled on the day of the Holy Spirit.

The second chapter of Acts tells us that renewed Israel gathered daily both at the temple and in homes. These early believers met at the temple every day. There they listened to the apostle’s teaching and prayed their prayers. Peter and John, for example, continued the daily habit of prayer in the temple every day at three o’clock in the afternoon (Acts 3:1). And they, along with other apostles, taught the people daily in the temple (Acts 5:32).

This newly baptized people also met daily in their homes in order to break bread. They shared meals together, and they received this food with generous and grateful hearts filled with joy as they praised God for what God had done in Jesus.

We can imagine a daily assembly of thousands in the temple as they worshipped together, prayed together, and listened to the apostle’s teaching, and we can imagine in the evening small groups of people meeting in homes to break bread, that is, to generously share food with each other and praise God together.

Assembly is an important marker of the people of God. It was important for Israel who assembled weekly, monthly, and quarterly for festive gatherings where they ate the sacrifices that were offered on the altar.  They gathered for worship in the temple courts and at sacrificial meals. Renewed Israel continued the practices of ancient Israel.

Having passed through the water, they received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who came to dwell among the people of God. In response, renewed Israel gathered daily in the temple and in their homes to give thanks for their salvation, encourage one another, and dwell in God’s presence.

This is the reason renewed Israel, as it appears in the book of Acts, is called the church or the ecclesia. This people is called church because they are an assembly—a gathered people—in the presence of God and among whom God dwells. This is the meaning of the word church; it is an assembly. 

The people of God assemble. They are church. They are God’s gathered ones.


Invitation into Community: Baptism

November 11, 2019

Filled with the Spirit, Peter, on the day of Pentecost, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God.

Jesus was a prophet attested by God through many signs, but the ruling powers crucified him. Though humanity killed Jesus through the hands of the unjust, God raised Jesus from the dead. Peter himself, along with others, testified to the reality of this resurrection. Raised, Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God as Lord and Messiah, and it was from this exalted position that Jesus poured out the Spirit upon these witnesses. The good news is that the Messiah reigns!

But this was disturbing news to some who were convicted of their participation in the rejection of God’s anointed. What were they to do? How might they find forgiveness and become participants in the reign of the Messiah?

The brief answer, according to Acts 2, is something like this:  trust in Jesus, repent of your sins, pass through the waters with Jesus, and share in the communal journey through the wilderness into the new heaven and new earth. In this way, God forgives sins and gifts the people with the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand people were added to the community of the one hundred and twenty through baptism, and that community devoted themselves to life together, including listening to the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.

Faced with the horror that they had killed the Messiah and recognizing the fulfillment of Joel 2, some were “cut to the heart” and wanted to know what to do. Peter’s response in Acts 2:38-39 sounded familiar but new: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off.”

Peter’s invitation reminds us of the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But Peter’s invitation also promises what belonged to the baptism of Jesus himself. When Jesus shared the waters of baptism with Israel, he was immersed in solidarity with his people. Coming up out of the water, however, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and this is what Peter promises Israel. Just as the Messiah joined Israel in the water, so now when Israel is baptized in the name of Jesus, they, too, will be anointed with the Holy Spirit. Moreover, whoever is baptized in the name of Jesus is included in the promise, which is for them, their children, and to those who are far off. This is the Abrahamic promise that envisions the inclusion of the Gentiles through the blessing of the nations.

Trust in Jesus, repentance of sin, and baptism into Jesus the Messiah ushers all, Jew and Gentile, into the kingdom of God. We are baptized into the community of the Messiah, the body of  Christ. And, as a people who belong to the Messiah, we are also heirs of the promise made to Abraham. We are heirs of the new heaven and new earth.

Baptism, by which we enter into the community of Jesus, is a means of forgiveness, a marker of inclusion, and a sign of the future. And, it is also a commitment to the mission of God as a disciple of Jesus. We are now members of a Jesus community, committed to both the ethics of Jesus and to the mission of Jesus.


The Pouring Out of the Spirit

November 10, 2019

One hundred and twenty disciples, men and women, were gathered in a room waiting for the promised Holy Spirit who would empower them to bear witness to the ends of the earth to the reign of God’s Messiah. Finally, their waiting came to end. God poured out the Spirit upon them, and they were each filled with the Spirit. It was Pentecost, the 50th day after the Passover. It was the first day of the week.

The significance of this moment is difficult to overestimate. Whatever we say about it is less than what it fully means. It is a surprising work of God that explodes all expectations, anticipations, and limitations. On the day of Pentecost, Peter announced that this descent of the Spirit from the heavens was what the prophet Joel had foretold centuries earlier.

Joel said (2:28), “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.”

What Joel envisioned was the veritable shaking of the cosmos to its core; it is as if the universe had reversed its course. The light of the sun has been darkened, and the light of the moon became blood red. Heaven and earth were on fire!

What ignited the cosmos? At Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit upon Israel! And with this God shatters the limitations of the old creation, with all its brokenness and divisions, and pours into it the dynamics of the new creation that flow from the reign of Messiah at the right hand of God. The world has changed!

Throughout its history with God, Israel knew the empowering presence of the Spirit. In the wilderness, God took “some of the spirit that was on [Moses] and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied” (Numbers 11:25). At that time, Moses prayed that God would put the Spirit upon all the Lord’s people.

Now that day had come. We call it Pentecost. God poured out the Spirit upon all Israel, but not only Israel. Now “all flesh” will receive the Spirit of God which is the inclusion of Gentiles, the inclusion of all races, among God’s people. Moreover, not only elders in Israel but the youth of Jews and Gentiles would see visions. Even more, it would not only be the recently liberated elders of Israel but enslaved Jews and Gentiles would also prophesy. And further, it would not only be men who would prophesy and dream dreams but women would also be empowered by God to see visions and prophesy.

We might think about it this way. Before Pentecost, typically though not exclusively, free Jewish males led the people of God. But Pentecost changed this. The pouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, enlarged the community of gifted leadership from free Jewish men to enslaved Gentile women.

The gifts that the ascended Messiah gave to the Lord’s people were not restricted to Jews, but included all races; they were not restricted to free peoples but included slaves; and they were not restricted to men but included women.

Pentecost shifted the dynamics. Those once excluded were now included, and those once unchosen were now chosen. All races, slaves, and women were now empowered and gifted for participation in the mission of God.