Saints: A Study in Honor of Mother Teresa

Other Apostles, Evangelists and Deacons

Acts 4:36-37, 9:26-28, 11:22-26, St. Barnabas: Encourage others
Acts 9:1-9, 18-22, St. Paul: Get saved and change your ways
Acts 9:10-18, St. Ananias: Take your courage in both hands
Acts 12:16-17, Acts 15:13-29, St. James the Just, brother of the Lord: Step up
Acts 15:35-40; 2 Timothy 4:11; Mark 1:1, St. Mark: Don’t be afraid to go first
Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2, St. Luke: Present the facts
Acts 6:1-5a, 6:9 – 7:3, 7:51-60, St. Stephen: Speak out fearlessly
Acts 6:2-5b, 8:1-8, 8:26-40, 21:8, St. Philip the Evangelist: Talk to strangers

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Acts 4:36-37, 9:26-28, 11:22-26, St. Barnabas: Encourage others (9/27/16)

I’d be willing to bet that you have heard of St. Paul, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you aren’t familiar with St. Barnabas. The irony is that without Barnabas, we might never have heard of Paul! Barnabas was an encourager. By his example, he encouraged his fellow Christians to be generous to each other. He encouraged the disciples not to fear Paul, and he encouraged Paul in his spiritual growth. Later he traveled extensively with Paul on missionary trips. He encouraged seekers and new believers in Antioch.

When you say a kind word, give a complement, thank someone for their work, or give encouragement to someone who needs it, you are following the holy example of St. Barnabas.

And P.S., believe me when I say that I would not have continued doing this study for ten years without your encouragement! Thanks!

Acts 9:1-9, 18-22, St. Paul: Get saved and change your ways (9/28/16)

All of us are sinners in need of daily repentance, but Paul called himself “chief among sinners” for his persecution of the Church. After his dramatic conversion, he became chief among those who spread the Gospel and chief among those who wrote the New Testament. St. Paul’s example shows that no matter how sinful we are, God wants us back, and when we turn back, he has work for us to do in the kingdom.

Acts 9:10-18, St. Ananias: Take your courage in both hands (9/29/16)

We read yesterday about Paul’s persecution of the early Church. After Paul is blinded on the road to Damascus, the Lord speaks to a man named Ananias, telling him to go to this same Paul! Ananias says, “Lord, are you sure? Are we talking about the same Paul??” But he goes, even though he can see the danger. My late Greek teacher taught in places where his hosts would not allow him outside for the entire time he was there because of the danger from the government. He taught in places that he had to walk for miles at high altitudes to reach. He taught in places with unsanitary food and no plumbing. All these places presented dangers to him, but he went. My teacher followed the courageous example of St. Ananias.

Acts 12:16-17, Acts 15:13-29, St. James the Just, brother of the Lord: Step up (9/30/16)

Several men in the New Testament are named James. We’ve already read about the disciples Sts. James the Greater (brother of John) and James the Lesser (son of Alpheus). St. James the Just, so called because he was a man of immense personal integrity, was also known as “James, the brother of the Lord.” He is the author of the book of James. We hear very little about him in the Gospels, but shortly after the death of Jesus, he became prominent in the Church (see 12:16-17), and later he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

To see how influential he was, remember that a great debate was taking place in the Church about the admission of Gentiles, culminating in the Council of Jerusalem, around 50 A.D. (The details are interesting but don’t concern us here.) Compare James’s judgment (15:19-21) with the decision of the Council (15:28-29). Even though the wrangling had gone on for hours or days at the Council, and had been going on everywhere for years, when James said, “This is my judgment...,” it was a done deal.

St. James stepped up. The tiny early Church needed him, and he was there. The Council needed leadership, and he was there. The church in Jerusalem needed a bishop, and he was there. Follow his holy example: step up.

Acts 15:35-40; 2 Timothy 4:11; Mark 1:1, St. Mark: Don’t be afraid to go first (10/3/16)

John Mark is often considered to be a younger kinsman of Barnabas. Although in his initial travels with Barnabas and Paul he got off to a rocky start with Paul (easy to do, by the way), Paul later relied on him. Ancient tradition says that he was close to Peter and traveled with him, and that the Gospel of Mark is really the gospel as preached by Peter.

A boss of mine and I had a saying: “The paper was blank when I started.” That meant that we really were starting from scratch on a new project, without other printed works to guide us. We were creating something new or at least new-ish. John Mark wrote the first Gospel, Mark. It was really a new literary form as well as the first narrative of Jesus’ ministry. When Mark says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” that’s exactly what he meant! The paper was blank when he started. Whenever we break new ground in building the kingdom, we follow the example of St. Mark.

Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2, St. Luke: Present the facts (10/4/16)

St. Luke wrote his gospel and Acts “late,” after St. Mark wrote the first gospel and after someone or some group had made a collection of the sayings of Jesus. He tells us this himself, in Luke 1:1: “many have undertaken to compile a narrative.” Some of Luke's material, such as the “we passages” in Acts, are widely accepted as his own record of events that he participated in (e.g., Acts 16:10-17). Other parts also seem to me to be original with Luke, especially the parts that can only rely on interviews with the chief actors, such as Mary (e.g., Luke 2:19-35).

All that said, Luke was especially careful to use the earlier material available to him to present “an orderly account” so that the reader “may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” He treats these earlier materials with such great care that a reader of Greek can usually distinguish when he is writing from scratch and when he is using the earlier sources. St. Luke investigated, he thought, and he presented things in order. Follow his example the next time you are presented with material that is new to you, so that you may try to pull some certainty out of what people are trying to sell you.

Acts 6:1-5a, 6:9 – 7:3, 7:51-60, St. Stephen: Speak out fearlessly (10/5/16)

The early Church appointed seven men to be deacons, or servers, to ensure that the needs of a certain segment of the congregation – Greek widows – were being met. All seven were “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” but Stephen especially was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He was apparently more outspoken than some of the others, because he fell into a dispute with the members of a particular synagogue. Accused of blasphemy, he gave a prolonged testimony to the Sanhedrin, first reciting the history of Israel and then accusing the leaders of continuing in the sins of their ancestors. When he has a vision of Jesus at the right hand of God, the members of Sanhedrin stone him to death. He was the first Christian martyr. Sometimes it is very difficult to speak out about our faith. When we do, we follow the holy example of St. Stephen.

Acts 6:2-5b, 8:1-8, 8:26-40, 21:8, St. Philip the Evangelist: Talk to strangers (10/6/16)

There are two important Philips in the New Testament, and until a few years ago I thought they were the same person. One is Philip the apostle, one of the Twelve, who as we saw earlier specialized in bringing people to Jesus. The other is Philip the Evangelist, who also specialized in bringing people to Jesus. Part of my confusion arose from this similarity in personality, but most of it arose from not reading carefully. Eventually one of my classmates in a Greek class showed me the error of my ways.

Philip the Evangelist was one of the seven deacons, along with Stephen. When the church in Jerusalem came under heavy persecution after the death of Stephen, many of the members – including this Philip – scattered into the countryside and smaller towns. There he blossomed, preaching and teaching and just generally evangelizing everyone he came in contact with. He ended up in Caesarea, and if I had read Acts 21:8 along with Acts 8:1, “... except the apostles,” I would have realized sooner that Philip and Philip are two different guys. So today we have a two-part lesson from St. Philip the Evangelist. First, read carefully! Second, tell strangers about Jesus.

More of Saints of the Bible
The Holy Family, Friends and Twelve Apostles
Other Apostles, Evangelists and Deacons
Miscellaneous Saints

Copyright 2016, 2017 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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