by Mason Puckett

by Mason Puckett

Contemplation and Action

By Acts 6, the Jerusalem church so far has become known primarily for two things: proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus, and being a source of radical generosity. As we’ve already seen, people like Barnabas are selling everything they own, liquidating all their assets, and bringing it to the church, trusting that that money will end up exactly where God wants it. And until chapter 6, it’s kind of looked like this was being done perfectly.    But now, a new…

Secrets and Half-Truths

What a strange story we find in Acts 5. The church is sharing life together in the most radical and generous ways, when suddenly two people, Ananias and Sapphira, are dead, apparently struck down for their sin. Unfortunately, the story is a bit vague. Luke doesn’t actually tell us that God killed Ananias and Sapphira, or that Peter did, but only that they die when they hear Peter speak. The ancient readers of this story probably didn’t tie themselves into…

Unflinching

When Peter and John go up to the Jerusalem temple one afternoon, they meet a man who’s been unable to walk his whole life. Every day he would have someone carry him to the temple gate so that he could ask for whatever generosity some passerby might feel like offering. As Peter and John walk by, he asks them for the same alms he asks of everyone. “I have no silver or gold,” Peter tells him, “but what I have…

Before Any Sign or Seal

“We say, ‘Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’ How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the…

In the Heavenly Places

There’s a phrase that pops up five times in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, but nowhere else in his other letters (or in the whole New Testament for that matter).  The phrase is, “in the heavenly places.” Of course Paul has something to say about heaven elsewhere in his letters, but this exact phrase belongs only to Ephesians. Why only Ephesians? We can’t really answer that, but we can at least see what Paul is doing with the phrase here…