July 2015 Letter
On July the 12th we celebrate the martyrdom of saints Peter and Paul (Apostles feast). This is a good opportunity to read the Book of Acts, so herewith we present a quick introduction to help us study this book:
- The Book of Acts is the only historical book in the New Testament.
- Author: Luke who also wrote one of the gospels.
- To whom did he write it: Luke wrote both books (the gospel and Book of Acts) to one person: Theophilus (= who loves God).
- Theophilus was a noble Roman man, as St. Luke addresses him as “most excellent Theophilus”.
- Name of the book: the Greek name is “Acts”, and many name it “Acts of Apostles”.
- But the more correct name should be “the book of acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles”.
- Background: the Book of Acts is considered the link between the life of Christ and that of the church; that is, between the gospels and the epistles.
- The establishment of the church, until the martyrdom of St. Stephen (chapters 1-5).
- The trial of St. Stephen and his stoning (chapters 6-7).
- The Jewish persecution against Christianity, and the conversion of St Paul (chapters 8-12).
- We see after that the spread of Christianity in the whole world (chapters 13-28).
- We would like to point that the early church distinguished between preaching and teaching:
- Preaching (Kerygma) is evangelizing Christ the Savior.
- While teaching (Didache) is directing the believers to live according to the faith.
- Most of the Book of Acts is preaching, while the epistles and the oral messages of the apostles were different.
- The Book of Acts contains 4 speeches directed to the believers, 4 to the gentiles, and 10 to the Jews. By analyzing these speeches we find them focused on one thing: God came down and saved man. This is the Christian message in its essence & simplicity.
May the blessing of Saint Mary, the holy apostles, and Saint Mercurius be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, July 1, 2015