Sabbath School

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If you have been the victim of a fake news story, you can sympathize with Paul’s dilemma in Acts 21. He has risked his life to preach the Gospel in Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus, but when he arrives in Jerusalem with a substantial offering he has collected for Jewish church members, James and the church elders confront Paul with a rumor spreading among their church members:

So what really new can we say about Paul’s third missionary journey?

At some point in your life you probably had to memorize the stops on each of his trips around the Mediterranean. You may have played a board game about the details of those trips to while away the Sabbath hours when you were young.

Paul intellectualized the Gospel in Athens and failed. He de-intellectualized it in Corinth and succeeded. Beware of “higher education.” This is how many tell the story.

Drawing upon a variety of sources including her inspiration, Ellen White and those who helped her put together the book Acts of the Apostles, are among are among those who narrate it this way. Here are this book’s words:

Recently there have been debates, nationally and internationally. about culture and inclusivity.  Within the church itself there has been a push for unity and understanding.  In order to navigate the differing views and opinions, we search for templates, models of how things should be done.  Similarly, the early Christian church looked for templates and searched for rules of conduct. They found that template in the life of Christ and in His word.

Acts 10:34, NRSV: Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who does what is right is acceptable to him.”

I. Paul the Jew

The history of the early church recounts and weaves into its narrative stories of sustained and extraordinary church growth. In fact, the first part of Acts 6:1 affirms this, “now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number.”

The ancient world was not known for transparency; secret plots on other people, intrigue, scheming, and deceptions formed much of the fabric of ancient judicial courts, penal proceedings, and political structures. Not surprisingly, ancient gods reflected the human realm. In ancient Mesopotamia, secrecy formed a bond between religion and the state for the king had a retinue of advisors and protectors who alone held the secrets of the divine sphere. The Assyro-Babylonians believed that the gods held information secret from all but a very elite few.

The Pentecost of Acts 2 is a packed event that looks back on its past, clearly begins a new spiritual community, and focuses forward to the future, indeed to the end of time.

The title of Theodore N. (“Ted”) Levterov’s latest book is Accepting Ellen White: Early Seventh-day Adventists and the Gift of Prophecy Dilemma (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2016).

The most important word in this title is “dilemma.”*

Two-thirds of those whom we recall as the “founders” of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination initially accepted her and one-third did not. James White and Ellen White comprised the majority and Joseph Bates made up the minority.