The Teaching of the Apostles

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.

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