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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Acts 1 - Intro & Ascension

The notes on Acts are merely comments that were made in our Adult Class at St. Michael Orthodox in Louisville. They are in no way comprehensive, and no substitution for reading the text. When posting them online, I will try to pretty them up a little so that they are more comprehensible than the notes I would use while teaching.

In effect the book of Acts is Luke part 2. This becomes apparent when comparing the introductions of both books. Luke addresses each to a person named Theophilus. The identity of the man is unknown, and some surmise it was a catechumen in the early church or because it means “lover of God” the name could refer to a generic new Christian or catechumen.

Luke was a physician and traveling companion of Paul; so many parts of the book are first hand accounts. He was a Gentile and is the only Gentile writer in Scripture

The book was written n the 60’s. We can determine this because he neither mentions the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 nor mentions the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul.

The epistle is read right after Pascha, and throughout the Paschal season. By dong so, the Church teaches us the implications of the Resurrection or the first fruits of the resurrection of Christ in the world.

4. Promise of the Father – Holy Spirit

9. Chrysostom sees the clouds in the ascension as a fulfillment of Ps 17:10-14 ; 96:1 & 2

9-11. The Ascension is an integral part of our faith, and it is as necessary to our salvation as other events in the life of Christ. For in the Ascension Christ becomes enthroned and sits at the right hand of the Father. Christ brings human nature to the very throne of God—to the presence of the Father. Because of this man can know have access to communion with Father because man’s nature sits at the right hand of the Father. Now that man’s nature has been deified, he is able to dwell with God eternally. Thus it is only after the ascension that the HS can come because only then is mankind able to receive the HS in fullness.

The way the icon of the Ascension is written, it becomes hard to see if Christ is coming or going. This is intentional because just as he departed He will come, and He is eternally present with us.

Replacement of Judas 15-26

20. Ps 68:26

20b. Ps. 108:8 - The whole Psalm speaks of the unbelieving Judas and is prayed at the Thrid Royal Hour on Holy Friday.

-the word office here is episcopos, from which we get our word bishopric.

23. Matthias: The Holy Apostle Matthias was born at Bethlehem of the Tribe of Judah. From his early childhood he studied the Law of God under the guidance of St Simeon the God-Receiver (February 3).

When the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the world, St Matthias believed in Him as the Messiah, followed constantly after Him and was numbered among the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord "sent them two by two before His face" (Luke 10:1).

After the Ascension of the Savior, St Matthias was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve Apostles (Acts 1:15-26). After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Matthias preached the Gospel at Jerusalem and in Judea together with the other Apostles (Acts 6:2, 8:14). From Jerusalem he went with the Apostles Peter and Andrew to Syrian Antioch, and was in the Cappadocian city of Tianum and Sinope. Here the Apostle Matthias was locked into prison, from which he was miraculously freed by St Andrew the First-Called.

The Apostle Matthias journeyed after this to Amasea, a city on the shore of the sea. During a three year journey of the Apostle Andrew, St Matthias was with him at Edessa and Sebaste. According to Church Tradition, he was preaching at Pontine Ethiopia (presently Western Georgia) and Macedonia. He was frequently subjected to deadly peril, but the Lord preserved him to preach the Gospel.

Once, pagans forced the saint to drink a poison potion. He drank it, and not only did he himself remain unharmed, but he also healed other prisoners who had been blinded by the potion. When St Matthias left the prison, the pagans searched for him in vain, for he had become invisible to them. Another time, when the pagans had become enraged intending to kill the Apostle, the earth opened up and engulfed them.

The Apostle Matthias returned to Judea and did not cease to enlighten his countrymen with the light of Christ's teachings. He worked great miracles in the Name of the Lord Jesus and he converted a great many to faith in Christ.

The Jewish High Priest Ananias hated Christ and earlier had commanded the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, to be flung down from the heights of the Temple, and now he ordered that the Apostle Matthias be arrested and brought for judgment before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem.

The impious Ananias uttered a speech in which he blasphemously slandered the Lord. Using the prophecies of the Old Testament, the Apostle Matthias demonstrated that Jesus Christ is the True God, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, Consubstantial and Coeternal with God the Father. After these words the Apostle Matthias was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin and stoned.

When St Matthias was already dead, the Jews, to hide their malefaction, cut off his head as an enemy of Caesar. (According to several historians, the Apostle Matthias was crucified, and indicate that he instead died at Colchis.) The Apostle Matthias received the martyr's crown of glory in the year 63. (from OCA website)

Barsabas (Justus): January 4 St Justus, called Barsaba, a son of St Joseph the Betrothed, was chosen in place of Judas, together with Matthias. He was a bishop and died a martyr's death at Eleutheropolis. He is also commemorated on October 30 (from OCA)

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