5 Wild Facts about the Early Church

Margaret —  April 2, 2014 — 51 Comments

5 Wild Facts about the Early Church

Like a rollercoaster, our #LentChallenge has led us up a steep climb the past three weeks. Clicking us to the top, we’re about to take a whirlwind, spiraling adventure through the remaining books of the New Testament—all of which have one thing in common: the early church.

Beginning with Acts and winding through the epistles, we are about to catch a snapshot of church history, witness the power of the Holy Spirit, and fall even more in love with God along the way.

Are you in?

I hope so.

Even if you’ve fallen a wee-bit behind, that’s okay! Keep reading. You’ve got this.

Here are 5 wild facts about the early church that you should read before you buckle your seatbelt:

1. Bridges the gap.

The book of Acts bridges the Gospels and Epistles, combining both history with faith. As a sequel to the Gospel of Luke, Acts serves as a historical account of the early church. In the Gospels, Jesus teaches. In the Epistles, the message of Jesus is being taught. [Tweet this]

2. A new name may be in order.

The book of Acts is traditionally called “Acts of the Apostles,” but a better name might be “A Few Acts of Peter and Paul” or “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit plays a pivotal role in this book and is mentioned 55 times. Each time you notice the Holy Spirit at work, put a star by the passage.

3. Stories of transformation.

In Acts and throughout the Epistles, we catch a glimpse of the transformation of Peter, a follower of Jesus who went from denying him three times to boldly proclaiming the Gospel. We also watch as Saul, a persecutor of Christians becomes Paul, a father of our faith and other of the majority of the New Testament. Through the lives of these followers of Jesus, we’re reminded that God can use anyone—even you and me—as tools for his redemptive plan.

4. Prepare to be encouraged and challenged.

Resisting the government’s authority. Sexual immorality. Conflicts between believers. Disunity among followers of Jesus. You name it, the early church probably wrestled with it. Reading about the history of the early church in that particular city using a study Bible can help decipher tricky passages, allowing us to fully understand the context to which it was written.

5. Where in the world?

It’s best to read Acts and the Epistles that follow with a map nearby to notice where the adventures of Peter and Paul take them, as well as where each church is located. Each time a city is mentioned, find it on the map.

Click here to open and print a map of locations of early churches.

As we dive even deeper into God’s big story, may we find ourselves wonderstruck by his grace again and again.

***

5 Wild Facts about the Early ChurchThis week I'm giving away THREE copies of my friend, Jonathan Merritt's new book: Jesus Is Better than You Imagined.

I don’t say this lightly, but this is the BEST BOOK YOU’LL READ THIS SPRING! It’s remarkable in 1000 ways. Beautifully written. Scripturally insightful. Delightfully provocative. Jonathan takes a huge risk in sharing from his own struggles with faith and sexuality. His stories are compelling and will haunt you—in a very good way.

Through a 60-hour vow of silence in a desert monastery, he experiences Jesus in silence. When a friend dies of a rare disease, he sees Jesus in tragedy. Through confronting childhood sexual abuse, Jonathan discovers Jesus in honesty. In an anti-Christian-themed bar, he finds Jesus in sacrilege. And when he's almost kidnapped in Haiti by armed bandits, he experiences Jesus in the impossible.

Jesus is Better than You Imagined. This is a book you don’t want to miss. Pick up a copy of Jesus is Better, here.

To win ONE of THREE copies of Jesus is Better, enter a comment on the original post at MargaretFeinberg.com. Winners will be selected and announced next Wednesday.

Congratulations to the winners: Jason, Christina, Gina Miller

How is Jesus better than you imagined?

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51 responses to 5 Wild Facts about the Early Church

  1. Love your blog! Been reading since I heard you speak last weekend!

  2. Sheila Colwell April 2, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for the challenge, Margaret. To further challenge myself and to perhaps gain additional insight, I decided to read the NT aloud in Spanish. I’m loving it! I trust all is well with you, Leif, and Hershey.

  3. I’m can’t determine where I’m supposed to make a comment about regarding the book “Jesus is Better because I don’t know if this is the original post. Anyway, I’d love to read this book. Jonathan Merritt sounds very sincere. I KNOW that Jesus is better than I imagined because He is always with me and fills me with the Holy Spirit!

  4. Wow. Would love to win this book.
    Jesus is better than I imagined in the way that He pursues me.

  5. Jesus is Better….. YES He is and has shown me and my husband that in so many ways and we have walked a journey of grace side by side with Him. My husband is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and has experienced healing in ways that I never thought possible. The grace we have experienced inspires me daily to walk closer to my savior and to let the Holy Spirit have His way in my life. I would love to read this book!!

  6. Jesus is way better than anyone I could’ve hoped or imagined! Thank you Margaret, for your faithfulness to be the voice of our times and for bringing us into the space of a better understanding of our Beloved Lord and Saviour!

  7. Jesus is Better then I imagined because I grew up to fear my relationship with him. If I did something wrong it was over. I had built my very foundation with him out of fear and we all know where fear comes from. It has been so freeing to drop religion and find relationship. Its not methods and programs, do’s and don’ts its about loving Him and experiencing his great love for me. He is way better then I had every imagined. He is my closest friend.

  8. I’ve been reading Hebrews and the title of this book sounds like the message of Hebrews. I can’t wait to read it – it is sure to ignite a fire in every reader!

  9. Thank you, Margaret. I have always loved Acts, although I feel convicted every time I read it. And thank you for giving away copies of Jesus is Better. Jonathan is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading the book, even if I don’t win.

    Keep sharing the Word of God and inspiring others to dig deeper.

    • Just realized I was so excited that I didn’t answer the question. LOL

      Jesus is better than I imagined because in spite of my faults and follies, He loves me unconditionally and His grace is sufficient to heal my wounds, drown my fears, and conquer my demons. Jesus is better than I imagined because when I am down, He picks me up and dusts me off and says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

      Thank you. And may the book be a blessing to anyone who reads it.

    • Congratulations, Jason! You’ve been selected as a winner! Please send your mailing address to carrie@margaretfeinberg.com.

  10. I have heard so many good things about Jonathan’s book!

  11. I have this book on my list. Would love to win it. Thanks!

  12. I would really like to know if Jesus is better than I have ever imagined. I want to really know this Jesus!

  13. Your giveaways are always spot on… whether for me or someone I love! Would love to read this book.

  14. He is stronger in me than I ever thought or wanted to discover.

    My ladies’ Bible study just finished a course on Acts and the life of Paul today, so your post is aptly timed.

  15. His love for me is unending and unchanging. I can’t imagine love like that!

  16. Kristine Drumm April 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I finally have a true friend who is always here for me.

  17. mongupp (@mongupp) April 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Jesus is my best friend, my constant encourager, and the One Who gives me purpose and hope!

  18. Enjoying the challenge Margaret! !!! Would love to win Jesus is better than you imagined. Thanks again for putting this Lent challenge together!

  19. I am excited about our next readings. I have been following along and thinking a lot about Peter and how he has changed and continues to change. It will be interesting. My husbands favorite book of the Bible is Acts. I don’t lean towards it because it’s history. I plan on reading with fresh eyes and an open heart.

  20. I hit enter to soon! Jesus is so much better than imagined because he loves me more than I deserve. He pursued me at all cost over and over and over until I finally saw the truth of who He was and what His sacrifice meant. I am so grateful for a Jesus like that!

  21. Carrie Schmidt April 2, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Intrigued by this book – would love to win a copy!

  22. Thank you for your timely encouragement and synopsis of the Epistles and Early Church. I’m finding myself challenged while reading that the current Church is not much different from the Early Church. I’m looking forward to reading with fresh eyes how Peter changed from the man we read about in the Gospels to the man he became empowered with the Holy Spirit. And, I’m praying that my time spent in the Word is going to change me more into the masterpiece God intends for me to be.

  23. This book would be such a blessing to win. I already know Jesus is wonderful, but to be reminded and given insight to angles that we haven’t thought of before would be a wonderful way to grow in Christ!

  24. I am proud to say that I have been faithful with the 40 day challenge and I have learned so much. I have never read any book in its entirety except for James, and to read it this way has been amazing! I can honestly say that I had no idea how many miracles Jesus performed, I had no clue how far Paul traveled, I didn’t know the apostles did so much healing and teaching. I am loving this challenge, I look forward to finishing it and am encouraged to now dive in to the Old Testament!

  25. I love Jonathan’s writing and I’m so looking forward to his book. And I love The Gospel of the Holy Spirit as an alternate title for Acts

  26. I’d really like to read that book!

  27. Thank you for telling us about Jonathan’s book. He truly walks the walk and encourages us to do the same. I would love a copy of his book.

  28. Yay! I found a new blog to read. I’m very excited. I’d also thoroughly enjoy winning a copy of Jonathan’s book.

  29. Shealeigh Funni April 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I am reading through Acts right now and would love to win Jonathan’s book! He spoke at my university chapel last week and his message was the perfect blend of conviction and hope. I greatly look forward to reading his latest book!

  30. Sounds like a wonderful book. I’d love to read it.

  31. I’ve been hearing a lot about Jonathan’s book and would love to read it!

  32. I finished reading Acts last night, which means that I’m almost caught up on the #LentChallenge. I’m excited to read the epistles with Acts fresh in my mind – they’re so much better understood with Acts in the background. Thanks for these tips to keep in mind!

  33. Would love to win this book!

  34. I would LOVE this book! I’ve read several articles by Jonathan and he is always spot on!

  35. I would LOVE a copy of this book! Jesus is better than I imagined in so many ways. I recently published my book I Saw That to express just how many ways He blows my mind and leaves me “slack-jawed.”

  36. Margaret, Thank you for the image of the map to magnify this wonderful adventure through the New Testament. The Lent Challenge is a turning point in my life. Focusing on daily worship and discovering a new gift each day. It’s quite delightful and refreshing! The book you offer to give away sounds like my life, in some ways, specifically seeing a friend die has truly caused me to see Jesus in tragedy. Thank you for your ministry to others. More Grace to you!

  37. I would appreciate being included in the drawing for Jonathan’s book. Life is a trust walk with our Lord Jesus Christ and for all who take this walk, I wish you peace!

  38. My small group and I have really enjoyed Scouting the Divine. We have had so much fun learning about how much like sheep and bees we are. I have discovered that I am a Mortuary Bee. LOL. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. I’d love to read Jesus is Better.
    :) Carol

  39. Thank you Margaret for your faithfulness in sharing God’s Word with us all. I would love to read ‘Jesus Is Better.’

  40. Julie Talbott April 4, 2014 at 4:53 am

    I also have been reading your blog since hearing you (Margaret) speak at the EW Conference in Highland Heigts, Ky. It was an awesome weekend! Thank you for coming out!

  41. How is Jesus better than I imagined?
    So far this year has brought many challenges in our lives (my husband got laid off, grandma got sick, bills hard to pay, etc.) yet, I/ we have witnessed his consistent faithfulness thru it all in ways I couldn’t & wouldn’t have imagined: I’ve had strangers come up to me and blessed me/ us with wonderful gifts that have lifted my spirit. So, I have seen and experienced Jesus as so much better than I ever thought possible and I am humbled and grateful for his love and goodness he displays in all the little and big things.

  42. Sherilyn Leath April 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you for helping us stay passionate about reading the Bible and for recommending such wonderful books! You touch so many lives in so many ways! Thanking God for you today!

  43. Jesus is Better sounds like it will be one of those books to buy ever more copies of to give to others so that they too can experience that Jesus surpasses all we could ever imagine.!!! I’ll lend it out as soon as I finish reading the copy that win ;)

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