Acts 1 – The Acts of the …


I have often wondered why the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. In my mind it is not the best name for the book, it is not the most accurate name. I think if I were able to change the name I would make it ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’.  The opening verses of Acts are about Jesus ascending into heaven and the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.  

For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.” …  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:5,9)

The book of Acts has no one human as its main character we see a lot of Peter in the first half and a lot of Paul in the second half.  There are many others who we hear about in the book of Acts. The one person present throughout is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is moving and working in the lives of the early church as the good news starts to spread.

Many scholars think that Luke the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, intended to write a third book, to make a trilogy but perhaps died before he was able. His first book, Luke’s Gospel, starts in Judea and in the town of Bethlehem. We see Jesus travel and preach in Galilee. Eventually, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem the capital and the heart of Israel.  Jesus dies on the cross and on the third day rises again. The Gospel of Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus in Jerusalem. The book of Acts picks up in the same place, in Jerusalem. And from there the coming of the Holy Spirit the good news spreads around the Mediterranean and ends up in the capital and centre of the known world Rome.  So we have in the Gospel of Luke the coming good news which starts in the countryside and ends in the capital of Israel a small country in the Roman empire and then in the book of Acts we have the good news spread from the capital of Israel across  much of the Roman empire ending up in the capital Rome.  The third book would see the message ripple further from Jerusalem and Rome all the way to ends of the earth. Perhaps that third book wasn’t written because we are living that book. We are spreading the Good news of Jesus to ends of the earth, we are spreading the Good news into every community.

you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)


Colossians 1 – What did Jesus look like?

question-mark-2123969_960_720‘Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation’

When we think of Jesus does an image appear in our minds?  If we look at art that depicts Jesus we see that He is presented in many different ways depending on where you are in the world.  If you are in Belgium Jesus looks like a Belgian, if you are in America, Jesus looks like an American, if you are in Ethiopia he looks like an Ethiopian.

This could be seen as a strength, It becomes easier to relate to Jesus if we imagine him like ourselves, it becomes easier to do mission to other places and present Jesus in different ways.

But what did Jesus actually look like?  Have you noticed that in the Gospels it doesn’t give a physical description of what Jesus looks like, in fact in the New Testament, there isn’t really a physical description of anyone, Jesus, Peter, Paul Pontius Pilate.  At the time people were less interested in recording that information.

We can make some educated guesses about Jesus’ physical appearance.  From skeletons dug up dating back to the time of Jesus, we can see that men would be about 5ft 4-6in.  Jesus would have course have had middle eastern features. He would have had a short beard. A lot of art show Jesus with long hair, but almost certainly He would have had fairly short hair.  The reason being is that there was a Jewish group called the Nazarites, who would take a vow not to cut there hair or beard and not drink any wine, and we see from the Gospels several different times that Jesus drank wine and so, therefore, would have cut his hair so as not look like the Nazirites.

But we know more about what Jesus wore then his physical appearance.  For example in Mark:

“Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes (stolai), and to have salutations in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets”

We can be pretty sure since Jesus makes a point of criticising the scribes in long robes that Jesus didn’t wear a long robe.  Long robes were a status symbol of the rich and powerful. Jesus would have worn tunic down to the knees like most normal people of the time.

Now I find this very interesting, for some it’s exciting to look at because they want to get to a more authentic Jesus for others its a bit more difficult because we have grown up seeing certain depictions of Jesus in art and in our churches, and we might have a particular image in our minds as we pray and read the bible.