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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


The Sixth Sunday After Easter
Series B

Option #1: "The Disciples Were First Called 'Christians' at Antioch"
Acts 11:19-30
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

1) Scattered, yet willing to witness--Acts 8:1; text, vv19-21.

2) Strengthened by God’s Word--text, vv22-26; 2 Chron 30:12; Acts 26:17-18.

3) God giving the harvest--Acts 2:47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7; 1 Cor 3:6-7.

4) Living the faith, being "a little Christ to our neighbor"--text, vv27-30, Prov 14:31, 19:17; Mark 9:41; see also 2 Cor 5:14-15, 8 & 9 passim.; Romans 15:25-27; 1 Thess 1:5ff; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:14-19; 1 John 5:1-2.

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the New Testament:

Acts 11:21: The hand of the Lord was with them--By the hand, arm, and, finger of God, in the Scripture, different displays or exertions of his power are intended. Here it means that the energy of God accompanied them, and applied their preaching to the souls of all attentive hearers. Without this accompanying influence, even an apostle could do no good; and can inferior men hope to be able to convince and convert sinners without this? Ministers of the word of God, so called, who dispute the necessity and deny the being of this influence, show thereby that they are intruders into God’s heritage; that they are not sent by him, and shall not profit the people at all.

A great number believed--That Jesus was the Christ; and that he had died for their sins, and rose again for their justification. Because the apostles preached the truth, and the hand of God was with them, therefore, a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord, becoming his disciples.

Acts 11:26: The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch--Before this time the Jewish converts were simply called, among themselves, disciples, i.e. students; believers, saints, the Church, or assembly... They considered themselves as one family; and hence the name of brethren was frequent among them. It was the design of God to make all who believed of one heart and one soul, that they might consider him as their Father, and live and love like children of the same household. A Christian, therefore, is the highest character which any human being can bear upon earth; and to receive it from God, as those appear to have done--how glorious the title! It is however worthy of remark that this name occurs in only three places in the New Testament: here, and in Acts 26:28, and in 1 Peter 4:16.

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Lamb's Message on Acts 11:26

Here's a Headline from one of today's Scriptures:

DISCIPLES FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS AT ANTIOCH

Being called names at school or on the playground. How do you feel when that happens?

One of today’s Bible readings tells us about the first time followers of Jesus were called Christians. We don’t know whether it was an insult or not. No matter how it happened, what does it mean for us to be called "Christians"?

1) Since the name of Christ is there, we want people to see Jesus in who we are, in what we do, in how we treat them.

2) Since we are called by the name of Christ, we need to remember that our sins are forgiven because Jesus took them to the cross with him, taking them away forever.

3) Since we want people to know Jesus and be forgiven by him the way he has forgiven us, we can’t just tell them about it; we have to love them, as Jesus has loved us.

4) If you want people to see that you belong to Jesus, help them the way that Jesus did. Jesus said that when people are lonely, we are to visit them. Jesus said that when people are poor, we help them. Jesus said that when people are sick, we spend time with them. (Insert your own example here, if desired.)

Jesus’ first followers were called Christians about 2,000 years ago. We can’t just claim the name; we have to show that it fits us today, just as it fit them so long ago. Jesus said: Whatever you have done to...these brothers of mine, you have done for me.

If we see Jesus in the people we are helping, it will be a lot easier to help them. And Jesus will thank you for it himself when you see him on the Last Day.

Here’s our headline:

CHRISTIANS SHOW MUCH LOVE AT (name of city, town, church)!

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Option #2: "Love's Command Performance"
John 15:9-17
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

 
Goal: that we might more and more experience the complete joy that God ordains for us.
 
Malady: not abiding in Christ's Love, being disconnected from and non-conversant with Him and His Father, resulting in incomplete joy, defective fruit-bearing, "ping-pong love," being slaves but not friends of Jesus, not keeping His commandments--or attempting to keep them only out of duty or with slavish fear--bearing temporary fruit at best.
 
Means: Jesus' God-like love for us--laying down His life--makes us His friends, not servants, and empowers us, by the Holy Spirit, to know His business, to ask for, receive from, and bear eternal fruit for Him, to remain in His love--to love others and, thus, to more and more experience joy in life/Life.
 
Notes:
 
1. Obedience is ob-audience, "listening toward" someone or thing. The NT specifies two different sorts of obedience, the difference being made by the "word of God" that is being "audienced." If the word audienced is a law command, then obedience is doing what you're required to do. If the word audienced is a Gospel-gift, then obedience is holding hands/hearts open to receive what's being offered. From this new sort of Gospel-obedience come the contours of Christ's new commandment. (Ed Schroeder)
 
2. "Love one another" is the core of the New Commandment. It is a command in that it is always in the imperative mood. But even so it is a Grace-imperative, and that makes all the difference. Qualitatively different from God's law commands (i.e., the decalogue), the New Commandment:
 
    a. is always in the second person plural throughout the NT. Thus it is addressed to the community: "Y'all love each other."
 
    b. is always second in the sequence. The first piece of the process always is Christ's love for his friends that puts them in a love relationship with him. The New Commandment is a consequence of that primary love action of Christ.
 
    c. is always reciprocal: you (plural) do this kind of loving back-and-forth to each other. It's like table tennis, ping-pong. What Christ has "pinged" to each of his friends, these friends he now commands to "pong" back and forth to each other.
 
    d. is always normed by a new criterion. Not "love neighbor as yourself," but "love one another as I have loved you." Those differences are as different from the "old" decalogue as the new creation is from the old one. (Ed Schroeder)
 
3. Joy in John's theology is the new "friend" relationship sinners have with Christ and thus with his own Father. Completed joy is such friendship now concretized in our relationship with our own selves (internal), and with all the world around us (external). John's other metaphors...in this pericope are: Appointed by Christ to go (mission/witness) and bear fruit that lasts (words and actions that have God's own lasting life imprinted upon them), conversing with God "in Jesus' name," laying down one's life for one's friends (who also count as Jesus' friends), in the never-ending game of...ping-pong love. (Ed Schroeder)

 

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM