Dispatch One Hundred Fifty-Four

Posted: May 13, 2015 in Thirty-Sixth Bundle
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ACTS 10:44-48

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said,47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

In the story of the early Church, the Holy Spirit is clearly the primary character. Whatever is done or said by the apostles, the miracles of healing, conversion, and growth are humbly attributed to the activity and blessing of the Holy Spirit, with the apostles serving only as its agents or brokers.

As far as strategy was concerned, these early Christians watched for clues and invitations in what God was doing in the world around them. When the Holy Spirit had already moved upon the Gentiles, inspiring them each to praise and profess God in his or her native tongue, the only thing Peter and the other apostles could do was try to catch up to what God was doing.

Peter’s exhortation that these Spirit-filled Gentiles be baptized was in its day a revolutionary idea, for it transgressed on a boundary-line between “insiders” and “outsiders” (circumcised and uncircumcised). His boldness has not been a consistent mark of the Church through the centuries, however, where definitions of piety and Christian orthodoxy have frequently (and ironically) condemned the activity of the Holy Spirit outside its jurisdiction as scandalous and heretical.


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