After my class on Luke that I was teaching ended, I promised them that since I wasn’t going to teach on Acts as I’d originally planned, I would instead blog about it. My first post on Acts was supposed to be last week. Oops.
When I sent the final email to them, I wrote that as I’d briefly looked at Acts, I’d noticed that it ended with this:
He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. –Acts 28:30-31
We had spent a lot of time in our Luke class looking back to Jesus mission in chapter 4 about preaching the kingdom of God to the other cities, and at the end of Luke saw how it would then progress through his disciples, and we see that even at the very end of Acts.
As I spent the last week reading through Acts in its entirety to get a bigger picture, I noticed that the kingdom of God is mentioned frequently:
- Acts 1:3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
- Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
- Acts 14:22 There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”
- Acts 19:8 He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God.
- Acts 28:23 After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets.
It’s a big focus of Luke’s continuing gospel (really, shouldn’t Luke and Acts be right next to each other in the Bible?) and I posed the question about whether or not the kingdom is a focus of Christianity today. I’m not sure it is.
Shortly before Jesus announced that his purpose was preaching the kingdom, he read from the prophet Isaiah to describe what this would look like:
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” –Luke 4:16-19
A few weeks ago, I wrote that I’m not so sure the good news is good news for everyone, because if it is good news for the poor and oppressed, it’s not good news for those that are rich and doing the oppressing. As we read and I blog through Acts, we’ll continue to look back at those verses in chapter 4 of Luke to see how they continue to play out.