June 30, 2016

Teaching, Fellowship, Bread, and Prayers

Category: Bible - NT - Acts,Theology - Ecclesiology,Theology - Liturgical :: Permalink

In Acts 2, we are told of the early church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers. And they sold their possessions and goods and distributed to all, as any had need.”

Richard Paquier comments on the interrelationship here between the church’s adherence to the apostles’ teaching, the church’s common prayers and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and the church’s care for the poor:

These three aspects of the common life of the first believers, even if clearly distinguished from each other, are nevertheless very intimately connected.

The breaking of bread and the prayers, therefore, include necessarily the teaching of the faith and the declaration of the word; worship is done in a brotherly agape [love] and includes perhaps already an offering for the poor (cf. I Cor. 16:1-2).

It is in prayer and in the fraternal and sacramental communion that the congregation nourishes its life in Christ and draws its strength in order to witness to the outside: it is there as well that the impetus is given to those charged with the dedication of themselves to their less fortunate brethren.

When worship is neglected or degenerates, witness to the faith and charitable works dry up; and inversely, a church that is no longer missionary within its environment and gives only parsimoniously to help the poor, proves that the worship it celebrates is merely an empty formality (Dynamics of Worship, xviii-xix).

Posted by John Barach @ 8:18 pm | Discuss (0)

Superstitious? (Matthew 9)

Category: Bible - NT - Matthew :: Permalink

The woman with the flow of blood who thought that she would be healed if she could only touch the tassel on the hem of Jesus’ garment was, according to D. A. Carson’s commentary, “superstitious,” though Jesus heals her anyway. Granted, she was in fact healed when she touched that tassel. But, says Carson, Jesus “said that it was her faith that was effective, not the superstition mingled with it” (Carson, Matthew, 230).

But … what was superstitious about her belief? What definition of “superstition” can Carson be working with?

How much better to say with Gibbs:

With regard to the woman with the hemorrhage, Jesus flatly declares that she had faith to be made well, and he in no way criticizes her for being superstitious. It is just as easy to interpret her desire to touch the hem or tassel of Jesus’ robe (the datum that leads Carson to accuse her for “superstition”) as a sign of her remarkable faith; she knows that she only needs the slightest¬†contact with Jesus to be healed and saved (Matthew 1-11,¬†484).

Posted by John Barach @ 8:13 pm | Discuss (0)