“And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia; and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled. And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:24-27). Faith’ in the Acts of The Apostles.
The difficult task that Biblical Historians face can be readily seen here and now at the point that we have come in Acts. Note that the 8th occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ is heard in the 14th Chapter’s 22nd verse in Antioch when Barnabas and Paul return from Lystra and Iconium. Now, only two verses later in this Chapter, history accounts for (by now we cannot determine the company of) Disciples/Apostles who have arrived by ship to Antioch having made stops in Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia.
After more than two years of following this course and the discipline of writing this weekly statement on ‘faith’, more specifically the single word ‘pistis’ one of several biblical words used as translation for ‘faith’, we have arrived at some of the most arduous areas of New Testament Biblical Studies. What with so many pressing issues of life in America as an African descendent with roots in the would be all forgotten slave culture of this Nation’s foundation history, to include the ramifications of it’s truths covered over with band aids— I am perplexed, weekly, to take another course in my ministry of the word in this space. Particularly having arrived in Acts at the beginnings of the church as an institution of which I have no lost love. (I hear ya’ll??? What do you mean!!). I’m saying, “I love The Lord! He heard my cry. And pitied every groan. As long as I live and breathe and trials, and tribulations, it is to THE THRONE of the ‘all powerful’; ‘all knowing’ God… (We did enter the discussion on ‘the Kingdom of God’?) But, I am staying this course, already convinced of the ‘newness of life’; the ‘born againness’ so desperately needed in our lifetime given in this inquiry, this discovery of ‘pistis’ as a peculiar kind of faith.
OK! So here we go— Church History. Looking first to Source Criticism of New Testament scholarship, we can no longer ignore Paul as the first New Testament writer. It is, I believe, a significant dynamic of his calling— his ability, his gift of expression ‘With Pen and Heart’. (Own it! It is Howard Thurman’s Autobiography). Born in Tarsus, the Greek influence upon his life in Judaism is far more impacting than the other Disciples who were all born in and around Jerusalem. Dr. Thurman suggests that it is this single point that most distinguishes Paul’s fate from Jesus’. He writes in ‘Jesus And The Disinherited’ that because of his Roman citizenship Paul is not pursued by Government and was not eligible for crucifixion.
As a alumni of The School of Gamaliel he brings to the task a level of scholarship that permeates his theology and drives his zealous commitment to the Pharisaic tradition of Judaism. In my thinking, it is really Paul who should be credited historically as founder of the Church. It is his voice, his thinking about Christ, that is most successful in ‘calling together’; ‘assembling’; ‘congregating’ groups of persons both of Jewish and non-Jewish descent; to hear the tales of ‘The Crucified One’.
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