JAM 5:2 (2003), pp. 153-174                    FROM DOING TO BEING:        A MISSIOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF ACTS 4:23-31 ...
154                  Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)interpreted in its grammatical historical sense; second, the scrip...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                        155of Luke describing Jesus’ earthly ministry may be divided into ...
156                    Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)2.3 Context of the Scene     Moving from the structure and purpo...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                      157     A crowd gathered in the Gentile court as the healed man jump...
158                    Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)as a reminder of their twisted ploys to silence the truth.16 The...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                         159     The church’s prayer began with a quotation from Exodus 20...
160                     Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)members living in the era of the new covenant, 22 the age of th...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                         161     In this correlation between David’s psalm and their prese...
162                Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)3.3 Sovereignty over the Present Situation     Not only did the disc...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                         163here was a request for a supernatural impartation of the Spiri...
164                 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)speaking to the Council who were “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                         165     The church referred to these miracles as “signs and wonde...
166                  Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)     Furthermore, the believers recognized that the Trinity wassim...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                        167the Seed (3:25). The speech is enveloped by the messianic title...
168                     Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)     God then granted their prayer in three direct ways: First,...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                        169believed were together, and had all things in common; and they ...
170                     Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)     Further, God’s affirmation of Jesus was composed of two se...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                        171                         4. Application of Acts 4:23-31     It ...
172                 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)     Furthermore, I asked myself the question: What is “Christian”s...
Gallagher, “From Doing to Being”                      173     Yet the life of Jesus in mission is not one of striving or s...
174                Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)Jesus’ paradigm of mission flowing from being. They prayed to theirs...
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From doing to being: A missiological interpretation of acts 4:23-31

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From doing to being: A missiological interpretation of acts 4:23-31

  1. 1. JAM 5:2 (2003), pp. 153-174 FROM DOING TO BEING: A MISSIOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF ACTS 4:23-31 Robert L. Gallagher* 1. Introduction Zeal for the church’s mission nearly cost me my marriage. Ten yearsafter being filled with the Holy Spirit, I entered full-time ministry in anAustralian Pentecostal church. In less than five years, full of youthfulenergy and vision, I helped create numerous church programs: aChristian elementary school, a national magazine, a radio program, twoBible schools, leadership training seminars, and various evangelisticoutreaches. In a hurricane of activity, my young family was swept asideby my all-consuming zeal for the local church to grow. This paper chronicles some of the journey that brought correction tothis distorted picture of God’s mission. Over a period of two years, Godgraciously brought the scripture, people and literature into my life thatcaused a paradigm shift in my thinking towards mission and ministry1—that accomplishing God’s mission does not come from doing a host ofactivities, but from a prayerful relationship with him through theempowering of his Spirit. In simpler terms, mission flows from beingrather than doing. In particular, this paper will examine Acts 4:23-31, one of the keyscriptures that God used to cause this paradigm shift in my thinkingabout his mission. In doing so, the paper will endeavor to approach thepassage with three guide rails in mind: first, the scripture should be * Robert L. GALLAGHER (Ph.D., Robert.L.Gallagher@wheaton.edu,College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187-5593), an Australian missiologist, is AssistantProfessor of Missions and Intercultural Studies, Wheaton College GraduateSchool, Wheaton, Illinois, USA. 1 This paper uses the words “mission” and “ministry” interchangeably torefer to God’s work in this world.
  2. 2. 154 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)interpreted in its grammatical historical sense; second, the scripture mustinterpret the scripture, and cannot contradict itself; and third, theguidance of the Holy Spirit is needed to interpret the scripture.Furthermore, the paper is divided into three sections: first, the context ofActs 4:23-31; second, the interpretation of the passage; and third, theapplication of the findings. 2. Context of Acts 4:23-31 Before we look at the passage in Acts 4, it is important to obtain anunderstanding of the author’s wider intent through the structure andpurpose of the book as a whole. Luke wrote the Book of Acts as thesecond part of a unified work that included the Gospel of Luke.2 Hence,major themes form a tapestry throughout Luke-Acts. The structures ofthe two parts are also important to the overall purpose, and should beconsidered as such when exegeting any pericope. The following sectionof the paper will consider the passage in its wider contexts by looking atthe structure of Luke-Acts, then the Book of Acts, and finally the scenein which the passage to be interpreted is found.32.1 Context of Luke-Acts The discourse analysis of Luke-Acts may be shown to have sixnarrative parts with summary statements providing most of the boundarymarkers. 4 The first three parts tell the history of the mission of Jesuslargely in Palestine, and the remaining three parts show the continuingmovement of Jesus’ mission through the Spirit-filled believers fromJerusalem to Rome.5 According to Acts 1:1-2, the narrative of the Gospel 2 This paper assumes that the author is Luke, the friend and companion ofPaul. See Col 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11; and Philemon 24. 3 The discourse analysis of narrative theology may be subdivided into: parts,acts, scenes, episodes, paragraph clusters, paragraphs, sentences and words. Thispaper will only consider those parts and acts that are relevant to the scene in Acts4:23-31. 4 The summary boundary markers for the three parts in the Gospel of Lukeare Luke 9:51 and 19:28 while those for the three parts of the Book of Acts areActs 6:7 and 9:31. 5 Also, within this structure, one of the major purposes of the author is toshow the mission movement of Jesus from heaven to earth (Luke 1:1-9:50), backto heaven (Luke 9:51-Acts 2:33-36), and then the continuing mission of Jesus on
  3. 3. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 155of Luke describing Jesus’ earthly ministry may be divided into threeparts. The first part takes place in Galilee and focuses on Jesus’ miracles(Luke 1:1-9:50).6 The second part records the journey from Galilee toJerusalem. In this section, Luke concentrates on the teachings of Jesus(Luke 9:51-19:44).7 Finally, the third part narrates the passion of Jesuswith emphasis on the ascension (Luke 19:45-24:53). Similarly, from Acts1:8, Luke’s second volume may also be divided into three parts. In thefirst part of Acts, the narrator describes the witness to the risen Messiahby the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 1:1-6:7). Next, Luke describes theSpirit-filled witness to the Messiah that continued in Judea and Samaria(Acts 6:8-9:31). Finally, Luke records the witness that was carried to “theend of the earth” (Acts 9:32-28:31).2.2 Context of the Book of Acts Based on the six-part structure described above, the passage underconsideration may be shown to be within part four of Luke-Acts (Acts1:1-6:7). This part focuses on the witness of the church in Jerusalemthrough the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Within part four are a numberof separate acts: the disciples waiting for the coming of the Spirit aspromised by Jesus (Acts 1:1-26); the Spirit coming at Pentecost after theexaltation of Jesus as God and Messiah (Acts 2:1-47); the firstpersecution, coming from the healing of the physically challenged personat the Gate Beautiful (Acts 3:1-4:31); a picture of early church life, asBarnabas was contrasted to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 4:32-5:16); thesecond persecution of the church coming from the Sanhedrin Council(Acts 5:17-42); and another example of church life that highlights theconflict between the Hebraic and Hellenistic Jewish Christians (Acts 6:1-7). All these acts are recorded to depict the significant events surroundingthe proclamation of the gospel in Jerusalem.earth through his Spirit (Acts 2:37-28:31). 6 In the first part of the Gospel of Luke, Luke records nine miracles out of atotal of twelve in his Gospel. Altogether, there are twenty separate miraclesrecorded in the four Gospels. 7 In the second part of the Gospel of Luke, Luke places thirteen out offourteen of Jesus’ parables. There are a total of twenty-two parables recorded inthe Synoptic Gospels.
  4. 4. 156 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)2.3 Context of the Scene Moving from the structure and purpose in the fourth part of Luke-Acts, we may now consider the context of the passage within act three(Acts 3:1-4:31). The act has three scenes: the healing of the man throughfaith in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:1-4:4); the witness of Peter and John beforethe Sanhedrin Council (Acts 4:5-22); and the disciples’ prayer and fillingof the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:23-31). This act is enveloped between twoscenes that give a summary of early church life. In Acts 2:42-47, theunified community proclaimed Christ with signs and wonders. Anothersummary of community life is repeated in Acts 4:32-35. Hence, from thedescription of community life in Acts 2 that tells of the many miracleswhich took place during the Jerusalem witness, Luke moves to aparticular miracle in Acts 3, and the subsequent events that led to thebelievers’ prayer. There were many miracles happening in the city, butonly this one is recorded. Perhaps the reason for this is that the miracleinvolved the two apostles Peter and John, and also led to the firstpersecution of the church. The Lukan narrative unfolds as follows: After the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter and Johncontinued in the Jewish ritual of daily prayers in the temple.8 On one oftheir afternoon pilgrimages they came upon a physically disadvantagedperson seated in the Gentile court in front of the Beautiful Gate. Sincepeople had to pass this gate to enter the temple, it is reasonable to assumethat the two apostles (as well as Jesus and the other disciples) had passedthis spot, and possibly this man, many times before. Why God chose thisoccasion to heal the man is not known. As with other supernaturalmanifestations of the Spirit that seem so particular, like the man healed atthe Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18), one can only assume that theguidance of the Spirit was paramount in the selection of whom to heal.Peter stopped in front of the disabled man, and fixed his gaze upon him,and knew immediately that Jesus was going to heal him.9 Instantly, thedisabled man was able to walk. 8 See Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46; 5:12, 20-21. 9 Here we could draw on the categories of the spiritual gifts recorded in 1Cor 12:1-9 to help analyze what happened. Perhaps Peter first received a word ofknowledge that this man was to be healed; then a word of wisdom as he grabbedhim by the right hand and without prayer lifted him up in the name of the LordJesus; then a gift of faith for Peter and the disabled person; followed by a gift ofphysical healing, as the over forty year old man who had been crippled from birth,had his ligaments, muscles, bones and balancing mechanisms instantly madewhole.
  5. 5. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 157 A crowd gathered in the Gentile court as the healed man jumped andleaped about, elated that he could now walk after a life-time ofdependence on others. Addressing the amazement of the Jewish crowd,Peter spoke of the Messiah in whose name the lame man was healed. AsPeter addressed the audience, the Sanhedrin Council, the most powerfulreligious, social and civil body in contemporary Judaism, gave orders tothe temple guard to arrest Peter, John and the healed man.10 Their reasonsfor doing this were two-fold. First, they were jealous of the apostles,since the people were again following the teaching of the disciples ofJesus and not their own teaching. 11 Second, since the Council, largelycomposed of the Sadducees,12 did not believe in the resurrection of thedead, 13 they sharply disagreed with Peter’s theology. This is the samegroup of seventy scribes, elders and leaders who, along with the highpriest Caiaphas, unlawfully tried Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem onlyseveral months earlier.14 After spending the night in jail, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,spoke boldly before the Council about the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth.Peter declared that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no othername under heaven that has been given among men, by which we mustbe saved.”15 The silence of the Council concerning the resurrection ofJesus is stunning. Here was a prime opportunity for them to eradicatewhat they believed was false teaching; yet not a word of denial camefrom anyone’s lips. The empty tomb, only hundreds of feet away, served 10 Acts 4:14 states that the healed man was present at the Council’s trial thenext morning, which would suggest that he had spent the night in jail with Peterand John. 11 See John 11:47-53 and Acts 5:17. 12 See Acts 4:1; 5:17. 13 Acts 23:6-8 14 This same Sanhedrin Council tried Jesus (Luke 22:66-23:2), Peter andJohn (Acts 4:5-7a), the Twelve (Acts 5:17-18), Stephen (Acts 6:12-15; 7:51-60),and sent Saul to Damascus to persecute any Christians he found there (Acts 9:1-2). Led by Caiaphas, with his father-in-law Annas, the power behind the scenes(Luke 3:2; John 18:12-13; Acts 4:6), the Council had a number of opportunitiesto repent to God (Luke 22:69-70; Acts 3:17-20; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 6:15; 7:51-53;9:28-29), but chose repeatedly not to change their mind because of the desire toprotect the Roman/Judaistic power they possessed (John 11:47-48). 15 Acts 4:12. All scriptural quotations are from the New American StandardBible.
  6. 6. 158 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)as a reminder of their twisted ploys to silence the truth.16 The Sanhedrinmembers were unable to refute the miracle of the healed man, and merelythreatened the two apostles not to teach about Jesus again. The apostlesthen returned to the other disciples and reported what had taken place. Itis in this context that Acts 4:23-31 must be interpreted and understood. 3. Interpretation of Acts 4:23-31 The narrator does not record the location where Peter and John wentto report “all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them (4:23),”nor does Luke state specifically to whom they reported. Also, Luke doesnot clarify how the prayer was executed. In other words, did Peter andJohn pray, all the apostles, or all the disciples? In harmony with the restof Luke-Acts, the author emphasizes the unity of the group,17 and that theprayer is addressed to the Father.18 Luke’s interest does not lie in thedetails of the performance, but in the content that showed the mindset ofthe early church. What follows is a study of this psyche, which played asignificant role in my cognitive paradigm shift towards mission.19 The prayer has three sections each of which acknowledges thesovereignty of God: first, over creation (4:24); second, over humanity(4:25-28); and third, over the present situation (4:29-30). Each of thesesections will be discussed, followed by an analysis of the results of theprayer.3.1 Sovereignty over Creation 16 See Matthew 28:11-15. 17 See the following for examples of Luke’s emphasis on the unity of theearly church: Acts 1:14; 2:44-46; 4:32; 5:12a, 15:25. 18 This is clear from the repetition of the phrase, “your holy servant Jesus”(Acts 4:27, 30). 19 J. Robert Clinton, The Paradigm Shift—God’s Way of Opening NewVistas to Leaders (Altadena: Barnabas Publishers, 1993) suggests that there arethree main types of paradigm shifts: cognitive, volitional and experiential.
  7. 7. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 159 The church’s prayer began with a quotation from Exodus 20:11.20 “OLord, it is you who did make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and allthat is in them (4:24).” The context of the quotation is the covenantceremony between the nation of Israel and Yahweh at Mount Sinaifollowing their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. After God had giventhe invitation to come into covenant (Exod 19:4-6), and the nation hadagreed to its terms, the ceremony began with the appearance of Godbefore Israel, followed by the covenantal conditions, which aresummarized in the Ten Commandments (Exod 20:2-17). The fourth termconcerned remembering and keeping the Sabbath holy. No work was tobe done on the seventh day of the week by the people. To reinforce theimportance of this command, God’s creation week was used as anexample (Gen 2:2-3): “For in six days the LORD made the heavens andthe earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day;therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath and made it holy” (Exod 20:11). In quoting this excerpt from the Sinaitic covenant, the disciples arehighlighting the sovereignty of God over all creation and his covenantpeople. After being threatened by such an authoritative group as theSanhedrin Council, the believers place God on his throne in the broadestterms. Since God is the Creator, he is also in control of the Sanhedrin andthe present circumstances. Moreover, God made a covenant agreementwith Israel that they would be his possession among all the peoples.Israel would be to God “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod19:5-6). In Exodus 19:5, this covenantal possession of God’s people islinked with his sovereignty over the earth.21 Thus, for the early church 20 F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introductionand Commentary (Chicago: Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, 1952), p. 126states that the words reflect such Old Testament passages as Exod 20:11, Neh 9:6,Ps 146:6 and Isa 42:5. Furthermore, he suggests, “The invocation of God asCreator here and elsewhere has been considered liturgical, from the stereotypedcharacter of the wording.” I. Howard Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles: AnIntroduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 106 expandsthis idea by stating, “The prayer itself reflects the use of the Old Testament, notmerely Psalm 2, which is explicitly quoted, but also the prayer of Hezekiah inIsaiah 37:16-20 which has supplied the general pattern and suggested somephraseology.” However, Marshall does not elaborate on this suggestedconnection with Isaiah. 21 Exodus 19:5 states: “Now then, if you will indeed obey my voice andkeep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples,for all the earth is mine.”
  8. 8. 160 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)members living in the era of the new covenant, 22 the age of the HolySpirit,23 their lives were in the hands of their sovereign God and not theCouncil. They were now heirs to God’s new covenant promise and hadnothing to fear.3.2 Sovereignty over Humanity Having emphasized God’s sovereignty over all creation, thebelievers’ prayer now focused on God’s sovereignty over humanity.Again, the prayer quoted another section of the Hebraic scriptures, thistime from Psalm 2:1-2. Before the quotation, the early church affirmedthat the Holy Spirit empowered the prophets and writers of Scripture tospeak God’s words.24 Then, the prayer quoted David, who by the HolySpirit said, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futilethings? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers gatheredtogether against the Lord, and against his Messiah.” In writing these first two verses of Psalm 2, David, whencontemplating the powerful nations of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon,thought of their rebellion against the Lord. Like high-strung horses, thesenations were against God and his anointed king saying, “Let us tear theirfetters apart, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps 2:3). However, byanalogy, the psalmist also foreshadowed another occasion one thousandyears in the future, when the nations would be against God and hisMessiah. This is what the disciples were aware of in their situation whenthey said, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against yourholy servant Jesus, whom you did anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate,along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever yourhand and your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28). Only weeksearlier, the disciples had witnessed the fulfillment of this prophecy, whenthey watched the passion of Jesus unfold before their eyes.25 22 See Jer 31:31-34 and Ezek 36:24-28. 23 See Acts 2:17-18 and 1 Pet 2:9-10. 24 See the following instances of this Lukan motif in Luke 1:67; 4:18; Acts2:3-4; 10:44-46; 11:27-28; 19:6; 20:23; 21:4, 11. 25 To clarify this point, the apostles saw that the “Gentiles” who ragedagainst the Messiah were the Romans; the “peoples” who devised futile plotswere his Jewish adversaries; the “kings” who took their stand were representedby Herod Antipas; and, the “rulers” against the Lord and his Messiah wererepresented by Pontius Pilate. See F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts:The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1986), p. 106. It is interesting to note that Marshall, The Acts of the
  9. 9. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 161 In this correlation between David’s psalm and their presentcircumstances, the disciples underlined the fact that the Messiah of Psalm2 was Jesus of Nazareth. They did this by the following means: usingthree messianic titles for their Lord Jesus—the Holy One, the Servant ofGod, and the Anointed One; and emphasizing the foreknowledge of Godin the events of his death and resurrection (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23-25;3:18), which was an echo of section two of the psalm (Ps 2:4-6). As we have seen from the Exodus quotation, the early church doesnot take passages from the scriptures out of context in order to support itsclaims. With purposeful intent, the believers built their arguments on thescripture as understood within its original literary and historical setting.26The meaning and use of the Old Testament passages cited in the NewTestament must therefore be decided in view of the original contextsurrounding the quotation. Therefore, this section from Psalm 2 recallsthe whole of the messianic psalm. Evidence for this claim may be seen inthe request of the church and the results of their prayer. The main point of Psalm 2 is this: David prophesied the rejectionand death of Jesus the Messiah, and the early believers had witnessedthose very events. The defiance of the nations was a part of God’sforeordained plan, that God would give his Son kingly authority over thenations of the world; then there would be people from the nations thatwould willingly obey and worship God’s King and Judge. In all this,God’s sovereignty over humanity was foremost in the minds of theprayers of Acts 4 when they quoted Psalm 2.27Apostles, p. 106 states concerning the peoples of Israel: “The inclusion of Israelamong the foes of the Messiah marks the beginning of the Christianunderstanding that insofar as the people of Israel reject the Messiah they cease tobe the Lord’s people and can be ranked with unbelieving Gentiles.” Thisstatement needs to be carefully weighed against Paul’s comments in Romans 9-11. Furthermore, in Luke 23:7-12 is the only reference to Jesus appearing beforeHerod. See Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 127-28 for further details onHerod Antipas who was involved in the imprisonment and beheading of John theBaptist, and had the prophet/teacher Manaen, from the church of Antioch in Syria,as his foster brother (Acts 13:1). 26 See Scott J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel (Tübingen:J. C. B. Mohr, 1995). 27 David’s Psalm 2 may be divided into four sections: first, the rebellion ofthe nations (Psalm 2:1-3); second, God’s sovereignty over the nations (Psalm 2:4-6); third, the Messiah’s coronation and inheritance of the nations; and, fourth, theworship of the nations.
  10. 10. 162 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)3.3 Sovereignty over the Present Situation Not only did the disciples of Acts 4 recognize the sovereignty ofGod over creation and humanity, but they also fulfilled Psalm 2 by theirprayer and worship. In acknowledging God’s hand in what they wereexperiencing, the church also embraced God’s promise to his Son that thenations of the earth would be his inheritance. They did this by requestingit come to pass through them. They understood that they were joined tothe risen Messiah through the Holy Spirit, and that when they prayed, theMessiah himself was praying. The early believers understood that Jesusactually had a spiritual union with his church. Without regard to their own discomfort or acknowledgement ofspiritual warfare, the believers made three requests in their prayer: “Andnow, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that your bond-servantsmay speak your word with all confidence, while you extend your hand toheal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of your holyservant Jesus” (Acts 2:29-30). First, the believers asked to surrender toGod’s sovereignty; second, for boldness of speech; and, third, formiracles of healing to be manifested through them in Jesus’ name. Thesethree requests will now be discussed in turn.3.3.1 Surrender to God’s Sovereignty In the first request, it is important to note the yielding nature of thedisciples. Rather than hold resentment, or anger, or fear, the churchsurrendered their feelings and the outcome to the Judge of all the earth.They simply asked God to take note of the threats of the SanhedrinCouncil and trusted in him for the results. Peter and John, faced withsubmission to the Council’s authority, decided that they should obey thehigher authority of God. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to giveheed to you rather than to God, you be the judge” (Acts 4:9). Hence, thebelievers’ prayer was reminding everyone that God was the sovereignJudge.3.3.2 Boldness of Speech Second, having been commanded by the Council “not to speak orteach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18), and knowing that theycould not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20),the company of believers prayed to the Lord Jesus that he would givethem boldness to speak his word. In the phrase “your bond-servants,” thenotion of submission to the sovereign God, who is over all including thehighest religious and civil authority in Judaism, is evident. In addition,
  11. 11. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 163here was a request for a supernatural impartation of the Spirit to enable afreedom of utterance that was beyond their natural abilities. Again, wesee the interrelationship between the Spirit and human proclamation thatis such a strong mission motif in Luke-Acts. When the Holy Spirit cameupon the followers of Jesus they spoke his words with authority andGod’s mission was accomplished. This was a fulfillment of what Jesushad promised them. When Jesus was teaching on prayer he had promised the disciplesthat the Holy Spirit would be available to them if they asked theirheavenly Father for help (Luke 11:13). “And, when they bring youbefore the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not becomeanxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or whatyou should say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour whatyou ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12). Then in Luke 21:12-15 this samepromise of inspired speech in the midst of persecution is repeated withassurance from Jesus, “I will give you utterance and wisdom which noneof your opponents will be able to resist or refute.” By comparing thesetwo passages, it may be shown that Jesus equated the work of the HolySpirit as his work. The Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are working as onewithin the church of the Messiah.28 Indeed, this happened with Peter before the Council when “Peter,filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of thepeople’” (Acts 4:8). Peter received an impartation of the Spirit29 and wasempowered to speak to the leaders with such authority and wisdom that“as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood thatthey were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, andbegan to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Eventhe Sanhedrin recognized the connection between the apostles’ wordsand the presence of Jesus, except they understood it in the past tense. YetJesus was still with Peter and John through his Spirit, and was still 28 Luke views the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. The mission ofJesus in the Gospel of Luke is continued in the Book of Acts through the powerof the Holy Spirit. Hence, during the second mission journey of Paul, the HolySpirit forbids the mission team of Paul, Silas and Timothy to go into the region ofAsia to speak the word; and in the very next verse, Luke records that the Spirit ofJesus forbids the group to go into Bithynia. In both instances, Luke is talkingabout the same Person of the Trinity yet uses different terminology to underscorehis theological belief that the Spirit, as the guiding Lord of the mission of thechurch, is Jesus himself. See Acts 16:6-7. 29 Note the occasions that Peter was filled with the Spirit: John 20:22; Acts2:1-4; 4:8, 31.
  12. 12. 164 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)speaking to the Council who were “stiff-necked and uncircumcised inheart and ears...always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51a).303.3.3 Miracles of Healing The final request of the disciples’ prayer is their desire to see thepower of God continue in miraculous wonders and signs. After thebelievers were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, “many wondersand signs were taking place through the apostles” in Jerusalem (Acts2:43). This was evidence that Jesus was alive and continuing his workthrough his followers. Thus, at Pentecost, Peter stated: “Jesus theNazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders andsigns which God performed through him in your midst” (Acts 2:22) and“God has made him both Lord and Messiah—this Jesus whom youcrucified” (Acts 2:36). In fact, the situation the believers in Acts 4addressed was due to a miracle of healing that even the Council could notdeny. “For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place throughthem [Peter and John] is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we[the Council] cannot deny it” (Acts 4:16). Yet, the disciples prayed thatGod would continue to extend his hand to heal, and that more signs andwonders would take place through the name of Jesus. They did not takefor granted the power of God being manifested in their midst, butearnestly asked God for more miracles.31 30 The same members of the Council here in Acts 4 are still hardened in theirhearts to the gospel in Acts 7:51a. Jesus’ prophecy to the high priest Caiaphas inMatthew 26:64 came to pass whenever the Sanhedrin Council had the believersin judgment before them (Acts 4, 5 and 7). “And the high priest said to him[Jesus] ‘I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are theMessiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself;nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you [Caiaphas] shall see the Son of Man sittingat the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Jesus wasquoting two Messianic passages from Ps 2:6 and 110:1; and Dan 7:13. The proofthat Jesus was the Messiah that was seated at the throne of authority in heavenand had come back in power, were the followers of Jesus witnessing to hisresurrection with such boldness accompanied by miracles. In fact, Stephen beforethe Council (Acts 6:10, 15) was further proof of the resurrection of Jesus theMessiah; and then finally “being full of the Holy Spirit” during his martyrdom,he quoted the same verse from Daniel (Acts 7:56). 31 Perhaps they were reminded of Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Luke 11:1-13that highlighted the importance of continued persistent prayer. In this passage,the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus recited the Lord’sprayer followed by a parable about a friend at midnight demanding three loavesof bread for his guest. Not because of his friendship will the man get out of bed
  13. 13. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 165 The church referred to these miracles as “signs and wonders.” Signspoint towards the destination of the journey. Travelers do not stop toadmire the sign pointing down the road since that is its purpose. The signis to guide the travelers to their journey’s end. And so it was for themission of God in Jerusalem. The miracles pointed to the risen Messiahand were evidence that what God had predetermined had come to pass.“And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them [Peter andJohn], they [the Council] had nothing to say in reply” (Acts 4:14). Thesign of the healing pointed to the risen Lord, but the Council continued torefuse to acknowledge the truth about Jesus because of their jealousy andlust for power.32 In addition, because of their miraculous nature, wonders 33 are acatalyst to make people think about their meaning. As the Jewish peoplewondered over the supernatural happenings that had taken place, theearly church desired that they would “repent therefore and return, thatyour sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may comefrom the presence of the Lord; and that he may send Jesus, the Messiahappointed for you” (Acts 3:19-20). Also, in this request in ch. 4 forcontinued signs and wonders, the believers asked for God’s hand of graceand mercy to be extended to the people through Jesus the Anointed. Thisis a continuation of the Hebraic concept of God’s right hand of blessingupon his covenant people bringing physical well-being.34and give him the bread, but “because of his persistence he will get up and givehim as much as he needs” (Luke 11:8). Then Jesus went on to say: “And I say toyou, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shallbe opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; andto him who knocks, it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). Jesus by referring to theheavenly Father’s intense desire to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”then climaxed these teachings on prayer (Luke 11:13). This same desire forGod’s continuing power and presence is seen in the Acts 4 request for miracles tocontinue. 32 Luke 20:20; John 11:47-53. 33 Wonder and amazement are a work of the Holy Spirit that is a repeatedmission motif in Luke-Acts. See Luke 5:9; Acts 2:7, 12, 43; 3:10; 4:13. 34 Culturally, the Hebraic father’s blessing was normally passed onto theeldest son via the right hand (Gen 48:13-20). Now Jesus is seated at God’s righthand. Further, the left hand of God is one of judgment, as in the case of thePhilistines who captured the ark (1 Sam 5:6-7, 9, 11; 6:3, 5). Also, since Israelwas in covenant with God, a part of the covenant’s blessings was the promise fordivine prosperity (Deut 28:1-14).
  14. 14. 166 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003) Furthermore, the believers recognized that the Trinity wassimultaneously working to bring about the witness in Jerusalem of themessianic fulfillment of Jesus being raised from the dead and sending theSpirit to the earth. Luke reinforced this significance by repeating thereference to Jesus as Messiah found in Acts 4:27, with the same twocombined messianic titles: Holy One and Servant of God. The believersrequested that God would do miracles in the name of the Messiah, God’sholy servant Jesus. This was the same name that had healed the lame man(Acts 3:16). The phrase “in the name of” relates to the Old Testamentsignificance of naming.35 In the Hebraic scriptures, names often revealedeither the psychological condition of the circumstances at the birth of achild,36 the character of the person,37 or a change in spiritual status, as inthe case of Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah (Gen 17:5, 15), andJacob wrestling with God and being renamed Israel (Gen 32:24-32).Thus, the request for the continuance of miracles through the name ofJesus the Messiah indicated that the believers knew their prayer would beanswered according to the will of the holy servant Jesus.38 In Peter’s sermon in Acts 3, Luke noted a number of messianic titlesfrom the Hebraic scriptures that are given to Jesus of Nazareth: God’sServant (3:13, 26), the Holy One (3:14), the Righteous One (3:14), thePrince of Life (3:15), the Messiah (3:18, 20),39 the Prophet (3:22-23) and 35 Names of places in the Hebraic scriptures also are helpful in revealingGod’s purposes and events. For example, Hagar, the Egyptian servant of Sarai,encountered God in the desert and named the place after the revelation of God(Gen 16:13), as did Jacob with his experience at Bethel (Gen 28:19). 36 For example, Joseph named his sons Manasseh and Ephraim (Gen 41:50-52), Phinehas’ wife named her son Ichabod in 1 Sam 4:21, and Hosea hischildren to indicate the circumstances of their lives (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9). 37 In John 1:42, Jesus renamed Simon, the son of John, and called himCephas (Peter). Also, see Matt 16:17-18 and Luke 5:1-11. 38 This meant that the authority for such a request to be answered came fromthe finished work of the cross and the authority given to Jesus by God; but also,that the answer needed to be within the divine purpose of the Messiah. Thisfollows the invitation of Jesus to the disciples throughout the Gospels that “if youshall ask the Father for anything, he will give it to you in my name.... In that dayyou will ask in my name.” See John 14:12-14; 15:7, 16; 16:23-24, 26-27. 39 In the Hebraic scriptures, when the prophet, priest, or king were dedicatedto the service of God, they had a ram’s horn full of olive oil poured over theirhead to symbolize the power and presence of the Spirit of God upon them toserve God and his people. So in Psalm 2:2 David speaks of the Anointed of God,the redeemer of humankind that will usher in God’s kingdom of peace,
  15. 15. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 167the Seed (3:25). The speech is enveloped by the messianic title, God’sServant (vv. 13, 26). This title, along with the Holy One, is again referredto in the believers’ prayer in Acts 4.40 In summary, the prayer of the disciples within the larger prayer ofActs 4 consists of three requests: first, they surrendered to thesovereignty of God and asked him, and not themselves, to judge thecommand of the Sanhedrin Council for “them not to speak or teach at allin the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18); second, as God’s sovereign servantsthey asked that he would grant them the supernatural ability to continueto speak the word of God with boldness. This was an echo of the promiseof Jesus in the Gospels that the inspiring wisdom of the Holy Spiritwould be available to them in their hour of trial; and, third, they calledfor God to continue to heal through the work of his holy servant Jesus.These messianic titles of the “Holy One” and “the Servant” werereferences to the Isaianic Servant who would invite the nations to be apart of God’s new Kingdom of peace, righteousness and justice. Thepeople of the Way41 were aware that they were now living in this age ofthe new covenant of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of thesemessianic promises (Acts 2:16-21).3.4 Results of the Prayer The answer to the prayer seemed to be immediate. Acts 4:31 states:“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered togetherwas shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began tospeak the word of God with boldness.” After they had “lifted their voicesto God with one accord” (Acts 4:24a) there was a physical demonstrationof God’s affirmation by having the building shake.42righteousness and justice (Isa 61:1-3). Thus, the word anointed in Hebrew istranslated “Messiah” and the Greek equivalent is the word “Christ.” 40 The title of the Servant of God occurs in a number of passages in Isaiah,but this paper will briefly explore only four: Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 52:13-53:3;53:10-54:3. At times the title may refer to the nation of Israel as God’s Servant,and at other times to the person of the Messiah; but for the church, the titlealways pointed to the coming Redeemer of all the nations. 41 The early name for the followers of Jesus was “people of the Way” (Acts9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). It was not until Gentiles began to follow theJewish Messiah in Antioch of Syria that they were called by the derogatory term,“Christians” (Acts 11:26). 42 Compare the following scriptures as signs of divine affirmation: Acts 2:2-3, Exod 19:18 and Isa 6:4. Other examples of God’s power upon objects are
  16. 16. 168 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003) God then granted their prayer in three direct ways: First, theirsurrender to the justice of God was answered as “the congregation ofthose who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of themclaimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things werecommon property to them” (Acts 4:32). There was unity in the church.The Holy Spirit enabled them to be more concerned about others thanthemselves. The threats of the Council did not cause a division amongthe ranks of the believers, but being filled with the Spirit, they unitedaround the purpose of their King. Second, the Spirit gave them boldness to speak about Jesus as theresurrected Messiah. They had prayed for confidence to speak God’sword and they then went out into the streets of Jerusalem, and did justthat with “great power.” God also gave them abundant favor with thepeople of Jerusalem to proclaim with power the resurrection of the LordJesus, the Messiah. Third, the refilling of the believers with the Holy Spirit broughthealing to the city and miracles.43 No physical healings are noted as adirect result of the prayer in Acts 4, though in Acts 5:12-16 “many signsand wonders were taking place among the people” because of theapostles. Also in Acts 5, Luke mentions the growth of the church alongside the healing of the sick and deliverance from demons. The witnesshad now gone beyond the walls of the city to include “people from thecities in the vicinity of Jerusalem” (Acts 5:16a).44 The mission to Judeaand Samaria had begun (Acts 1:8). At this stage of the witness, therewere even extraordinary miracles taking place, such as Peter’s shadowfalling on people, “and they were all being healed” (Acts 5:16). So, eventhough no healings were mentioned immediately after the prayer, itmight be assumed from the record in Acts 5 that there was a continuationof signs and wonders from Acts 2:43. Further, there were miracles of a social and economic nature thatcould only be the work of the Holy Spirit. The situation in Acts 4:32-34recalls the conditions after Pentecost in Acts 2:44-45, “all those whofound in Luke 8:22-25 (the stilled storm), Luke 9:10-17 (the multiplied bread),Matth 21:18-22 (the withered fig tree), and John 2:1-11 (the water turned towine). 43 Note that the early church received refillings of the Holy Spirit. Such wasthe situation with the apostle Peter. It could be argued that he first received theSpirit in the upper room (John 20:22), filled again at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), thenbefore the Council (Acts 4:8), and again after the prayer in Acts 4:31. 44 Compare the extraordinary miracles of Paul in Acts 19:11-12.
  17. 17. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 169believed were together, and had all things in common; and they beganselling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, asanyone might have need.” In subjection to the lordship of the Messiah,the members of the congregation “who were owners of land or houseswould sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at theapostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need”(Acts 4:34b-35). This resulted in a miracle—a sign and wonder to theJerusalem community—that nobody could deny: that the followers ofJesus conducted a voluntary social service program whereby “there wasnot a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34a). This was a powerfultestimony that supported their spoken message, even more so after thedebacle of the hypocrites Ananias and Sapphira.45 Hence, the results of the prayer were three-fold relating directly tothe apostles three requests: God took note of the threats of the Council bycausing the church to have unity of mind and purpose under hissovereignty; they immediately continued in witnessing “to theresurrection of the Lord Jesus” with boldness, and the healing of the sickand demonized, together with signs of socio-economic equality wereperformed in the city of Jerusalem. In Acts 4:31 Luke also links prayer, the Holy Spirit, and speakingthe word of God as a mission paradigm for the church to follow. Thistripartite model of ministry is first mentioned in Luke 3:21-23 at theinstallation of Jesus’ mission. It was during the water baptism of Jesus byJohn the Baptist: …while he [Jesus] was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are my beloved Son, and in you I am well pleased.” And when he began his ministry, Jesus himself was about thirty years old.Here the narrator observes that it was while Jesus was praying that theHoly Spirit came upon him enabling his ministry to begin. In Luke-Actsthe prayer motif is connected with the accomplishment of God’s salvificpurposes. God’s people in prayer allowed the Spirit of God to bring forthhis mission.46 45 Luke compares the encouragement of Barnabas (Acts the Christiancommunity (Acts 4:36-37) with the scheming hypocrisy of Ananias and his wifeSapphira (Acts 5:1-11). See also Acts 5:13-14. 46 There are prayer parallels in Luke-Acts. Through prayer, the Holy Spiritequips and transforms God’s people “on their way” towards accomplishing God’s
  18. 18. 170 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003) Further, God’s affirmation of Jesus was composed of two separatequotations joined together. “You are my beloved Son” comes from Psalm2:7a; 47 and, “in you I am well pleased” from Isaiah 42:1a. Bothquotations are from mission contexts. We have already seen that the nextverse in Psalm 2 says, “Ask of me, and I will surely give the nations asyour inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession;” while thecontext of the Isaiah quote says, “Behold, my Servant, whom I uphold;my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon him;He will bring forth justice to the nations.” Thus, as prayer and the filling of the Spirit accompanied thebeginning of Jesus’ mission, so they accompanied the beginning of thechurch’s mission in Jerusalem. Before the feast of Pentecost there was agathering of about one hundred and twenty persons who “with one mindwere continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 2:14). Then as thefeast of Pentecost was being fulfilled they were immersed in the HolySpirit and began calling people to repent, be water baptized and toreceive the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38). And now as the mission movedbeyond the borders of the city to witness next in Judea and Samaria, theprayerful church once again was filled with the Holy Spirit to accomplishtheir task.48 This pattern of the people of God praying, and the filling ofthe Holy Spirit propelling people into mission is a Lukan motif thatbegins at the baptism of Jesus and continues throughout Luke-Acts.49mission in the world. This is evident in the anointing of the Spirit at the baptismof Jesus and the church (cf. Luke 3:21 and Acts 1:14; 2:1-4; 10:1, 9, 44; 11:15-17); the appointment of Christ’s and the church’s apostles (cf. Luke 6:12 andActs 6:5-6; 13:1-4); the approval of God through extraordinary miracles (cf. Luke9:28 and Acts 4:31; 19:6, 11); and the anguish of the suffering Savior and hissaints (cf. Luke 22:41 and Acts 7:59, 9:15). 47 Marshall, The Book of Acts, p. 106 states that “the words ‘Thou art mySon’ (Ps 2:7), spoken to Jesus at His baptism by the heavenly voice, actuallyhailed him as this Messiah.” 48 In Palestine during New Testament times there were many groupsinvolved in mission of one kind or another. For instance, in Matth 23:15 Jesusspoke of the scribes and Pharisees who would “travel about on sea and land tomake one proselyte;” that is, a Gentile convert to Judaism, as in Acts 2:10, 6:5,and 13:43. Jewish revolutionaries such as Theudas and Judas of Galileementioned by Gamaliel in Acts 5:36-37, “drew away some people” after them. 49 See Luke 4:1, 14, 18.
  19. 19. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 171 4. Application of Acts 4:23-31 It was this reoccurring Lukan mission paradigm that influenced myunderstanding of ministry more than anything else. My work in thechurch was demanding more and more of my time. My family waspatiently suffering from both an absent husband and father. On top of analready overflowing church schedule of meetings, committees andpreaching, I accepted speaking invitations that took me away from myfamily for weeks at a time. And all the while I was completing graduatestudies at the local university. “This is God’s call on my life” was my continual answer to mywife’s pleas to spend more time at home. How could she respond to sucha claim? After nearly eighteen months of trying to communicate that Ineeded to slow down and devote more time to my family, my wifereverted to the only avenue of communication left—she bared her heartin a letter and showed me drawings from my two little girls that depictedhow they missed me in their lives. Both these vehicles opened my heartto feel the pain I was causing those I loved the most. But, how was I tochange? What was I to do? It was then that God graciously showed me the prayer life of Jesus inthe Gospel of Luke and the continuing importance of prayer in Acts 4.Gradually a shift in my thinking occurred as I saw that the mission ofJesus himself, as well as the ongoing mission of his church, came from arelationship with God. Though involving works, mission was not basedon works. In union with the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the first believersministered to people from a position of relationship—of being with Godrather than doing. This was the most important ingredient in mission: thatmission comes from being, not doing. So began a lifestyle change in how I did mission. Slowly I learned tosay no to good opportunities, delegated tasks that others could do,prioritized my work responsibilities, and sought for balance in theintellectual, spiritual, physical and social dimensions of my life. 50 Ialtered my weekly planner to include healthy blocks of time with myfamily and one-day retreats with God each week, away from telephonesand people. This change of focus aroused some concern from my churchleaders, yet I knew that if I was to have a healthy relationship with myGod, wife and children, in the midst of an effective ministry, I needed tofollow the Lukan pattern of prayer, Spirit and mission. 50 See Jesus’ development in Luke 2:40, 52 for these four dimensions.
  20. 20. 172 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003) Furthermore, I asked myself the question: What is “Christian”success? So often the church has accepted western society’s definition ofsuccess without critical evaluation. Multiple seminars and conferencespromote steps to success for a healthy church body based on the socialaxiom that bigger is better. Yet this is the secular business model, foundnowhere in the scriptures. Godly success is finding the will of God anddoing it, whether this means a life of prosperity or hardship. What isoften promoted as success in life may be illustrated by an industrialimage. We measure our success by how many cups on the conveyer beltof life are filled to overflowing. A twelve-cup life of multiple gifts ismore successful than a two-cup life. There is much pressure to perform atthe peak of our excellence and fill as many cups in pursuing life’sjourney as possible. Doing is promoted as essential to a Christian lifewell lived. This hyper-Protestant work ethic affects our Evangelical churches,mission agencies and universities. All too often our attitude to work ispropelled by workaholism and compulsivism in attempting to followthese perceived norms of operation. 51 In the process, the developmentand well being of the staff and faculty are sacrificed for the dream of thevisionaries. Stress and fatigue, causing emotional and physical burnout,are all too common amongst the leaders of our Christian institutions.There is little theology of play and practice of Sabbath rest. Tokenofferings of spirituality are submerged by the push for programproductivity.52 51 This paper does not advocate laziness or slothfulness (Pro 12:27; 15:19;19:24; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13-15). Work is a blessed opportunity from Godto express human creativity after his image (Gen 1:26-27; 2:15). Yet, withinmany institutions of contemporary western Christianity, there are unhealthyimbalances of work and play. Sadly, little space and time is devoted todeveloping life’s rhythms of rest and relationships (Exo 20:8-11; 34:21-24; Lev25:8-12). 52 Educational establishments especially continue to model this secularfalsehood. For example, concerning the student’s academic workload, everydepartment and course does what is right in their own eyes with littleconsideration to the overall balance in a student’s life. Quantity of work isstressed over quality. Little attention of the board of trustees is given to thespiraling costs for education and the burgeoning burden of paying back loans.And then there is the ever-increasing faculty pressure for publications in analready saturated information marketplace. Even the historical and contemporarymodels in Christian mission—those multi-gifted individuals who in a singlelifetime plant multiple churches, reach multitudes for Christ, work night and daywithout ceasing, sacrificing home and health for the kingdom’s sake—are placed
  21. 21. Gallagher, “From Doing to Being” 173 Yet the life of Jesus in mission is not one of striving or struggling forbigger, or better. There was a pattern of being with God that is oftenmissing in Christian circles today. A rhythm of spirituality is evident inJesus’ life whereby every major event in his earthly life is soaked inprayer. “But the news about him was spreading even farther, and greatmultitudes were gathering to hear him and to be healed of their sickness.But he himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”53 Lukerecords the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus like no other gospelwriter. Luke sees Jesus in prayer at his baptism (Luke 3:21); in selectingthe twelve (Luke 6:12); at Peter’s confession of faith (Luke 9:18); at themount of transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29); before the teaching of theLord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-2); at Gethsemane (Luke 22:41); and atCalvary (Luke 23:34, 46). Prayer surrounds every important event inJesus’ ministry. Prayer is the means whereby God directed Jesus’mission of salvation to “lost” humanity. It is the way Jesus apprehendedthe dynamic power of the Spirit for salvation history. The Messiah’sredemptive work flowed from his relationship with God in prayer, notfrom his many deeds. In the same way, Luke records in the Book of Acts the early churchhaving this pattern of prayer, Spirit and mission. The believers’ prayer inActs 4 is just one example of the church praying and seeking the powerof God before accomplishing mission.54 The prayerful disciples followedon unattainable pedestals for us to emulate. 53 Luke 5:15-16 54 Other examples of this Lukan mission paradigm are: before Pentecost thefirst church prayed (Acts 1:14), then the gift of the Spirit came upon the believersfor mission as the church was “continually devoting themselves to...prayer” (Acts2:42); Peter and John followed the Jewish custom of praying three times a day inthe temple (Acts 3:1), and consequently, Peter, filled with the Spirit spoke boldlyto the Council (Acts 4:8); the apostles devoted themselves to prayer and to theministry of the word (Acts 6:4, 6) while the Spirit was upon the seven chosenmen (Acts 6: 3, 5, 10; 7:55); Peter and John prayed for the Samaritan believersfor the Holy Spirit to come upon them (Acts 8:15-20); Cornelius, a God-fearerwho “prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2, 4, 31), received the Holy Spiritalong with his family and friends (Acts 10:24, 44-48; 11:15-18); Peter waspraying when he saw the vision (Acts 10:9; 11:5); prayer surrounded Peter’sangelic release from prison (Acts 12:5, 12) that enabled his mission to continue;the sending of Saul and Barnabas by the Holy Spirit for their first mission to theGentiles from Syrian Antioch, occurred while the team was “ministering to theLord and fasting” (Acts 13:2); and then they were sent out by the Holy Spiritafter further prayer (Acts 13:3-4); the appointment of elders amongst the Galatianchurches came through prayer and fasting (Acts 14:23); the first mission into
  22. 22. 174 Journal of Asian Mission 5:2 (2003)Jesus’ paradigm of mission flowing from being. They prayed to theirsovereign Messiah and he refilled them with his Holy Spirit. Only thendid they begin to advance to the next stage in the Christian mission ofexpansion from Jerusalem to Rome. The church today needs to re-evaluate its methods of mission. Scriptures teach that mission flows frombeing rather than doing, but secular western culture teaches that only byhard work can anything be accomplished. This attitude is summarized byBenjamin Franklin’s axiom: “God helps those that help themselves.”Like the early believers in Acts 4, contemporary Christians must chooseto follow Jesus’ model, and not the model of the world.Europe involved guidance from the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-7), a place of prayer(Acts 16:13), and suffering prayer (Acts 16:25); mission at Ephesus involvedPaul praying for twelve men to receive the Holy Spirit so that “when Paul hadlaid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they beganspeaking with tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:6); and, prayer and healingwere integrated in Paul’s mission in Malta (Acts 28:8-9).

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