Week 6 (Feb. 12 – 18): John 12 – Acts 7

Reading Plan for Days 36 to 42:

Sunday, 2/12: Jn. 12-14
Monday, 2/13: Jn. 15-17
Tuesday, 2/14: Jn. 18-19
Wednesday, 2/15: Jn. 20-21
Thursday, 2/16: Acts 1-2
Friday, 2/17: Acts 3-4
Saturday, 2/18: Acts 5-7

Some Introductory Comments:

The “glory” of Jesus in John & the crux of the Gospel message

I’m sure that you’ve noticed, as we’ve been reading through the Gospel of John, the repeated references to “glory” and to the coming “hour” or “time.” In some of my earliest readings of John, these references struck me as a bit odd, and I’ve come to find that is because they are unique to John (and thus not as emphasized and repeated as other phrases from the synoptic gospels). In reading and studying this week’s passages, I was struck by the fact that the root for both phrases – the “glory” or “glorification” of God/Jesus and the “hour” or “time” Jesus refers to – is the same, and is, in fact, the very crux of all four gospel accounts.

The Greek form for glory, doxa, is a translation of a Hebrew word/concept that can literally be read as “to lift up.” When we glorify God, then, we are lifting up God. In the Gospel of John, the hour of glory that is being referred to is the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. (Indeed, in John 3 Jesus connects the dots: he compares the lifting up of the bronze serpent in Moses’ day to the coming hour of glory, when he [the Messiah] would be lifted up on the cross.)

All four gospel accounts give the greatest weight to the last week, and indeed the last 24 hours, of Jesus’ life. For all of the gospel writers, the great mystery of the crucifixion and resurrection is at the core of Jesus’ life and identity, thus they spend more time focusing on these final events. (Starting on Sunday, we will read through what are referred to as the Farewell Discourses (chapters 13 through 17) that occur just as Jesus is preparing for the passion.)

In John, this is referred to as “glory” because it illuminates the presence of God with us in a way that no other event can.

Introduction to the Acts of the Apostles

The Acts of the Apostles – written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke – tells about Jesus’ continuing ministry in and through the disciples and emerging church. Although it tells stories of many disciples, Acts ends up primarily focusing on two key individuals: the Apostle Peter (the “rock” on whom Jesus promised to build His Church), and Saul of Tarsus (who we generally know as Paul).

For centuries, many scholars have identified the structure of the Book of Acts to be the fulfillment of the missional statement that Jesus gives the disciples in Acts 1:8: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes… and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Thus, the Book of Acts can be seen in these primary parts:

  • Part 1: The disciples receive the Holy Spirit and are witnesses to Jesus in Jerusalem (Acts 1:1 – 6:7)
  • Part 2: Jesus’ Spirit-empowered disciples spread (in part because of persecution), and bear witness throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 6:8 – 12:24)
  • Part 3: Jesus’ witnesses (particularly Paul) carry his witness to Rome, the capital of the Gentiles and the “end of the earth” (Acts 12:25 – 28:31).

Blessed reading to you this week! Please post any comments, insights, or questions you might have in the comments section below.

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