Acts in my paraphrase (extended translation) is published is now available in digital editions
‘You will receive power from heaven when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Only when you’re brimming over with the energy of the Holy Spirit will you be equipped to take the initiative and be effective witnesses for me. The Holy Spirit will mobilise you to boldly declare the good news. You will go out in ever-widening circles, first to Jerusalem, next to all of Judea and Samaria and then eventually to the furthest corners of the earth.’
Suddenly, something absolutely unexpected and extraordinary happened. They heard a loud roar like the noise of a gale-force wind that came from heaven and spread throughout the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what appeared to be bright flames of fire over them all. The flames divided above them, so that a single flame came to rest on each of them, but without burning them. They were all filled, brimming over, with the Holy Spirit. The promise of Jesus was fulfilled as the Holy Spirit came on them all. Each of them experienced an overwhelming sense of the presence and power of God. They began to speak in other languages that they did not know, as the Spirit equipped them.
They all committed themselves actively and wholeheartedly to:
- the apostles’ teaching and training, and
- fellowship, meeting with, sharing with and supporting one another;
- the breaking of bread, including as Jesus did at the Last Supper, to remember his death and
- different kinds of prayer, showing their constant dependence on God.
The time has now come therefore: have a complete change of mind and heart; make a decisive U-turn in your lives. Turn back to God and trust only in him so that all traces of your sins will be wiped out. You will then enjoy the gentle breezes of the Lord’s presence. He will then send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time comes for the restoration of all things, when everything that has been spoilt by sin will be completely renewed in the world to come, which God declared through his holy prophets a long time ago.
‘You must respond to Jesus, because salvation is not found in anyone else. There is no other name given under heaven to humanity by which we must be saved. God has provided Jesus as the unique way of salvation for the whole world.’
Moses was then trained in all the great wisdom of an Egyptian education and he became a force to be reckoned with in both his words and actions. God was preparing him for his future leadership role.
So the followers of Jesus who had been driven out of Jerusalem took every opportunity wherever they went to talk naturally about Jesus in their normal everyday conversations.
Peter said to them, ‘You yourselves are very much aware that it is against our law for a Jewish man to associate with, or even visit, a Gentile. If we do so, we become defiled, ceremonially unclean. However, God showed me in the vision I saw that I could eat any food and not become defiled. I realise now that I am therefore allowed to associate with Gentiles because I should not write off anyone as impure or unclean.’
Following the angel, Peter left the prison cell. He didn’t know whether what the angel was doing was real. In fact, he thought he was dreaming or experiencing a vision; everything seemed surreal.
As they went, they strengthened the hearts of the believers, encouraging them to continue to trust in the Lord. Their message was realistic: ‘As you follow Jesus, you will definitely experience difficulties. We have to go through many troubles to enter the kingdom of God.’
Then Paul stood up in the meeting of the city senate and said, ‘People of Athens, I notice that you have a great sense of God in every aspect of your lives. You realise there must be more to life than what you see and experience…’
However, I don’t regard my life as valuable to myself. My aim is to complete the race – and it’s a marathon not a sprint – and fulfil the service that I received from the Lord Jesus. I simply want to tell the truth about the good news of God’s extravagant love.
He continued to declare the good news of God’s reign breaking into the world in Jesus. Full of boldness, he taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing and no one could stop him from faithfully making Jesus known … so the good news of Jesus would eventually reach the furthest corners of the earth.