From Jesus to Paul: Verbal Ministry about the Kingdom of God and about Jesus

November 2, 2011

Observing how a book begins and ends is an important part of discovering what a writer desires to communicate. When both the beginning and the ending of a book stress the same ideas, we can have confidence that those are key ideas to which the author is seeking to direct attention.

The book of Acts begins with Luke’s teaching about Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry:

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (1:1-3).

Following this introduction, Luke records how Jesus commissioned His apostles with teaching concerning their future testifying to Him throughout the world (1:4-8). By beginning the book this way, Luke emphasized that Jesus’ ministry to the apostles focused on instruction about the kingdom of God and about Himself.

Luke concludes Acts with two noteworthy accounts of Pauline ministry in Rome:

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified concerning the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. . . . And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (28:23; 30-31).

He thus could hardly have stressed more emphatically than he did that Paul’s ministry for two entire years was to minister the same things in the same way to everybody that he interacted with: preaching the kingdom of God and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.

Based on how Luke begins and ends the book of Acts, it is certain that he intends to stress that from Jesus to Paul, the emphasis was on verbal ministry about the kingdom of God and about Jesus. We, therefore, should have the same dual emphases in our evangelistic and discipleship ministries.

Rajesh

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