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«_ A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the School of Theology Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas _ In Partial ...»

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The ethic of the apostolic community produces cavrin pro;~ o{lon to;n laovn (Acts 2:47).267 “As a result of this, the young community grew day by day, as more and more Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah and were thus saved.”268 Indeed, a commendable community which embraces the ethic of the apostolic community enhances the evangelistic effectiveness in a postmodern world.269 An apostolic approach calls for the community of faith to demonstrate the love of Christ toward one another.

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Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), ejmegavlunen auJtou;~ oJ laov~ (Acts 5:13b).270 The apostolic community had “favor with all the people.” Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, trans. R. McL. Wilson, et al. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1971), 193; W. Neil, Acts of the Apostles, 82.

Neil suggests that the “splendid quality of their common life” produced a favorable view.

W. Neil, Acts of the Apostles, 82.

George G. Hunter III, How to Reach Secular People (Nashville: Abingdon, 1992), 137-40.

“The people praised them.” The setting of this verse appears “anti-evangelistic.”271 The judgment of Ananias and Sapphira creates an atmosphere in which tw`n de; loipw`n oujdei;~ eJtovlma kolla`sqai aujtoi`~ (Acts 5:13a).272 D. R. Schwartz proposes that the tension between the admiration of the people and their fear kept prospective converts from union with the apostolic community through the contribution of personal property.273 Bruce also indicates that these deaths dissuaded all but the totally committed from joining the community.274 C. C. Torrey, however, considers loipw`n to refer to the Jewish religious leaders and kalla`sqai to the arrest of the Christians.275 This writer

follows Marshall who proposes the intent of the verse is:

“unbelieving Jews kept away from the Christians.”276 H. Conzelmann, Commentary on the Acts, 39.

Conzelmann suggests that it is “mere clumsiness” by the author.

“But no one of the rest had courage to unite with them.” D. R. Schwartz, “Non-Joining Sympathizers (Acts 5,13-14),” Biblica 64 (1983): 550-55.

F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, 109.

C. C. Torrey, “The ‘Rest’ in Acts v. 13,” Expository Times 46 (1934-1935): 428-29. He takes kolla`sqai as “to seize.” The religious leaders did not dare arrest the members of the apostolic community because of their favor and high-esteem by oJ laov~.

I. H. Marshall, Acts of the Apostles, 115. He suggests that loipw`n is a technical idiom for unbelievers and the meaning of kolla`sqai means “to come near.” The fear of “half-hearted” allegiance to the apostolic community provides a corrective to the social

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ei\cen most likely attracted a large following in Jerusalem.

The incident with Ananias and Sapphira, however, caused those who were looking for physical needs to evaluate their true commitment to Christ. Unless they were willing to submit to the Spirit’s power, they kept their distance.277 Nevertheless, even those who feared participation in the apostolic community “could not help praising them as they were impressed by what they did.”278 In fact, the ethic of the commendable community, especially when joined with the powerful demonstrations of God’s presence and power, led to the growth of the community (Acts 5:14). Vaughan proposes that the purity of the community and the obvious presence of the Lord promotes the growth of the church.279

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postmodern world must utilize specific ministry to those who are in need as she evangelizes of postmodern individuals.280 Polhill, Acts, 164.

I. H. Marshall, Acts of the Apostles, 115.

Curtis Vaughan, Acts: A Study Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 38.

R. Daniel Shaw, “In Search of Post-modern Salvation,” Evangelical Review of Theology 22 (1998): 57.

An apostolic approach seeks such an holistic approach. An apostolic community responds to the practical as well as spiritual needs of its members (Acts 4:32, 34-35; 6:1-6).

Evangelism and social action join together as a powerful witness to the postmodern world. Trites writes: “Such an unselfish, caring fellowship was undeniably attractive to the pagan world, and it still is.”281

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“makes true” the gospel. Hauerwas appears to present such a conclusion when he suggests that “the truthfulness” of a story “is known by the kind of community [it] should form.”282 Dennis Hollinger rightly proposes that the church, as “a visible, corporate expression” of the gospel, serves as a witness in the postmodern world.283 Unlike Hauerwas, this writer proposes that the truthfulness of the gospel is inherent in its nature as divine revelation and witness.

Allison A. Trites, “Church Growth in the Book of Acts,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (April 1988): 172.

Hauerwas, A Community of Character, 52-55, 95-97.

Dennis Hollinger, “The Church as Apologetic: A Sociology of Knowledge Perspective,” in Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, eds. Timothy R.

Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1995), 182-93. He proposes that the “plausibility structure” for the gospel is a “holy, loving, just, forgiving, life-giving community” which reflects the principle of love and the pattern of Christ (Ibid., 190).





“Plausibility structure” is a “social structure which manifests the worldview of a people” (Ibid., 186).

The Spirit of truth bridges the truth of the gospel to postmodern people. Yet, in evangelism, the community’s actions join with the Spirit’s witness to Christ. Berger proposes that the “reality of the gospel is mediated” through the faith-community modeling the apostolic ethic.284 As such, an apostolic approach presents a model for life within community which postmodern people seek.285 An apostolic approach for the evangelization of postmodern people exalts the principle of love for one another and follows the pattern of Christ in the community.

In this way, the community of faith “incarnates” intimacy, and the postmodern desire for intimacy finds fulfillment in the commendable community, which shows love and practical concern for a[n ti~ creivan ei\cen.

Kevin Graham Ford calls for a commendable community in the evangelization of postmodern people. He suggests that the “intellectual dimension” of the gospel is vital for discipleship (th`/ didach`/ tw`n ajpostovlwn), but not evangelism.286 Ibid., 187.

William C. Placher, Unapologetic Theology: A

Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation (Louisville:

Westminster John Knox, 1989), 167.

For a contrary view, see, James W. Sire, “On Being a Fool for Christ and an Idiot for Nobody: Logocentricity and Postmodernity,” in Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, eds. Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L.

Okholm (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1995), 101-27.

Although this writer does not concur completely with Ford’s conclusions about apologetics in the evangelization of postmodern people, his emphasis on community is insightful.

The commendable community in which the church is a “safe and nurturing haven of relational stability” presents the most effective tool for the evangelization of postmodern people.287 Obstacles to Community: Deception and Division When deceit and division mark the community of faith, these obstacles encumber the “truthful telling” of the gospel.288 The apostolic ethic, which exegetes the love of God through Christ to others, becomes the target of Satan’s attack against the faith-community.289 The deception of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)290 and the division between the Hellenists and the Hebrews (Acts 6:1-6) demonstrate an approach to overcome these obstacles.291

Kevin Graham Ford, Jesus for a New Generation:

Putting the Gospel in the Language of Xers (Downers Grove:

InterVarsity, 1995), 136-37.

Hauerwas, A Community of Character, 52.

C. E. Autrey, Evangelism in the Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964), 43.

F. Scheidweiler, “Zu Act. 5:4,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 49 (1958): 133-37.

I. Howard Marshall, “Palestinian and Hellenistic Christianity,” New Testament Studies 19 (1972-1973): 271-87.

Accordingly, this writer will seek to demonstrate how the apostolic church responded to these threats.292

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Ananias and Sapphira informs the approach involved in the resolution of the problem in the community. Capper provides an extensive analysis of the community of goods in its Palestinian context. He concludes that the violation of the couple finds a parallel in the Essene community.293 In drawing this comparison, Capper connects membership in the community with the transfer of personal property.294 Bruce, however, rightly indicates that such a conclusion outweighs the evidence.295 Furthermore, the demand of the surrender of personal property to join the community finds no parallel in the NT. Indeed, Peter’s questions in verse 4 demonstrate the voluntary nature of the community of goods.296 Trites, “Church Growth in the Book of Acts,” 172.

Brian Capper, “The Interpretation of Acts 5.4,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 19 (1983): 117Capper shows that the candidates for membership in the Essene community went through a probation period in which all personal property was given, but ownership was not transferred. To deceive the community demonstrated a lack of trust in the community.

B. Capper, “Palestinian Cultural Context of Earliest Christian Community of Goods,” 337-38.

F. F. Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, 105 n. 15.

B. Capper, “Palestinian Cultural Context of Earliest Christian Community of Goods,” 338-39.

Nevertheless, Ananias and Sapphira sought to deceive, which interrupts the “victorious progress of the people of God.”297 The work of oJ satana`~ against the apostolic community is the manifestation of his opposition to God and the work of

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sin.298 In an attempt to garner a reputation for generosity, Ananias and Sapphira seek yeuvsasqai (Acts 5:3). Yet, the object of this deception is to; pneu`ma and tw`/ qew`/, not merely ajnqrwvpoi~. The judgment is swift and final (Acts 5:5, 10).

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maintain purity in order to maintain effective witness. The Spirit is the agent of confirmation, power, leadership, and judgment “by which God launches the good news.”299 The “execution of Ananias is a prolepsis that the proclaimed word carries the prospect of divine retribution for any who deny its truth.”300 Thankfully, the finality and extent of this judgment does not represent the normative standard.

F. F. Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, 102.

M. Erickson, Christian Theology, 472.

Brian Rosner, “The Progress of the Word,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds. I. H.

Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 224.

Robert Wall, “Israel and the Gentile Mission in Acts and Paul: A Canonical Approach,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds. I. H. Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 444.

The narrative, however, demonstrates the powerful presence of God in the midst of His people and “zealous to defend”

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judgment serves as a blessing for the apostolic community through the Spirit’s monitor of holiness.302 This narrative highlights the judgment upon those who defile the “temple” with impurity (1 Cor 3:16-17).303 Furthermore, the ethic of community means ajpoqevmenoi to; yeu`do~ and lalei`te ajlhvqeian e{kasto~ meta; tou` plhsivon aujtou` because ejsme;n ajllhvlwn mevlh (Eph 4:25).304 An apostolic approach depends upon the Spirit “for its spiritual sustenance and sense of direction,” including judgment upon sin.305 Furthermore, an apostolic approach requires accountability within the community of faith.306 David P. Seccombe, Possessions and the Poor in Luke-Acts, Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt (Linz: Verlag F. Plochl, 1982), 199-201.

Max Turner, “The ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ as the Power of Israel’s Restoration and Witness,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds. I. H. Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 341.

F. F. Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, 104.

“Putting away deceit” and “speak truth each one with his neighbor” because “we are members of one another.” James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity, 2d ed. (London: SCM Press, 1990), 178.

M. Erickson, Christian Theology, 1057-58. This includes the necessity of discipline (1 Cor 5:11-13).

Diversity is a norm within the apostolic community.

The biblical images of the community reveal this diversity of membership. The diversity, however, is “socialized” by the unity of the Spirit and the ethics of an apostolic community, specifically in connection with ajllhvlwn. John Milbank writes that “peace no longer depends upon the reduction to the self-identical, but is the sociality of harmonic difference.”307 An apostolic approach, following the example of Acts 6:1-6, provides this “harmonic peace.” Along with the growth of the apostolic community, ejgevneto goggusmo;~ tw`n JEllhnistw`n pro;~ tou;~ JEbraivou~ (Acts 6:1).308 This conflict demonstrates the social, cultural, and linguistic differences within the growing faith-community.309 John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 5.

“Grumbling of the Hellenists originated against the Hebrews.” Most commentators identify Hellenists as Jews who spoke Greek while the Hebrews spoke primarily the Semitic language. Notable exceptions are: H. J. Cadbury, “The Hellenists,” in The Beginnings of Christianity. Part 1:

The Acts of the Apostles, vol. 4, eds. F. J. Foakes Jackon and Kirsopp Lake (London: MacMillan, 1933), 59-74; Oscar Cullmann, “The Significance of the Qumran Texts for Research into the Beginnings of Christianity,” Journal of Biblical Literature 74 (1955): 213-26. Cadbury suggests that Hellenists are Gentiles, and Cullmann proposes that Hellenists are Qumran sectarians.



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