Approaching Acts: Historical Perspective (Class #2)

This is the outline for class #2 in our Bible Study in Acts at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Austin, TX. For more info contact Matt. The title of the course is “A New Kind of Conquest.” For the outline of Acts we are using, see here.

Today’s Thesis: If the Gospels are about a different kind of king, then Acts is about a different kind of conquest.

I. Jerusalem to Rome (1:8)

“In the Acts of the Apostles we find a highly evocative story of the church’s beginnings that traces its dramatic growth from sacred Jerusalem to imperial Rome.”[1]

a. Jerusalem: 1:4

b. Rome: 28:16

II. A different kind of conquest (I Mac 1:1-4).

“After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) 2 He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. 3 He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. 4 He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him.

a. Canonical context: kingdom, king.

b. Historical context.

i. Imperial Hellenism

1. Philip II (d. 336 BCE)

2. Alexander (d. 323 BCE)

3. Ptolemy / Seleucid

4. Antiochus IV Epiphanes[2] (d. 164)

ii. Jewish Revolt / Independence

1. Desecration of the Temple

2. Hasmonean Dynasty

3. Judas Maccabeus[3]

iii. Roman Rule (63 BCE)

the point: feelings of exile / bondage

III. Discussion: What kind of conquest is this? A new conquest for today?



[1] Robert Wall, The Acts of the Apostles, 3.

[2] Seleucid King (not Ptolemaic).

[3] Judas took back control of the Temple in 164. His brother Simon expelled the Seleucid army in 142.

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