Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Eutychus, part II

So what's the point? Why would Luke tell us this strange little story about Paul's killer sermon (Acts 20:7-12)? Is it supposed to be a warning against sleeping during church? Or against preaching too long? or is it supposed to be a note of comfort to boring preachers that the Spirit will come to the rescue if you kill one of your flock? Somehow we suspect that Luke was just a little more sophisticated than that.

One of the keys to understanding any scene in Scripture is to re-entangle the scene in its book. Luke, like all the authors of the Bible, wrote with purpose. He chose stories and told them intending to make a difference, not just get the facts straight. Luke was not only a historian, but a pastor and a master story-teller.

Luke wrote the book of Acts to describe the success of the Holy Spirit in spreading the church from Jerusalem to Rome, from the capital of Israel to the capital of the world (as the Romans saw it). Acts is designed to show us how the church was and can be. Gordon Fee reminds us that Acts is about "our roots, not our fruits," but that was only a warning that we should not treat Acts too simplistically as a how-to manual for the church. It's true that church discipline should not usually include death pronouncements (Acts 5:1-11) and that believers should not expect to use their heads as Bunsen burners (Acts 2:3). Once we get away from that sort of silly over-simplification, it becomes obvious that Luke has some ideas about what the church ought to do and be.

Near the beginning of Acts, Luke gives a description of the church at Jerusalem that serves as a picture of the ideal church for the rest of the book. I'll let you look up the passage (Acts 2:42-47), but here are the qualities of that model church:
  • devoted to learning from the apostles
  • genuine and generous community
  • the visible power of the Holy Spirit
  • spontaneous worship and prayer
  • respect from non-believers and constant conversions
  • glad and sincere hearts

Luke's list illustrates some of the key themes of Acts. Luke is telling us that church should be characterized by learning, relationships, power, worship, prayer, evangelism, and a different temperament. He doesn't tell us that only in Acts 2; it shows up in scene after scene in the whole book.

OK, now here's where you come in. Look back at the story of Eutychus in Acts 20:7-12. Why did Luke include this story?

10 comments:

  1. I dunno ... you're the Bible scholar ... you tell me! :)

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  2. And if you share your Bible knowledge with me, I'll tell you how to get your kid to stop an annoying habit; how to make a delicious chicken dish using only 3 ingredients (that even the pickiest of eaters will like), and the neatest trick I just learned on Microsoft Word! Deal?

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  3. OOoooo, I want to know those things too!

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  4. OK, I definitely want to hear how to stop annoying habits in kids. Actually, my wife probably wants to hear how to stop annoying habits in me!

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  5. I've been so used to everything from the Word being fed to me. So I want to figure it out before I'm told. Based on the hints from "Euty," I figured it out.
    1. "After the Days of Unleavened Bread" refers to Passover. The Christians had most likely gathered to celebrate Christ's death and resurrection which happened after Passover, right? They are together like in Acts 2:4.
    2.Paul is teaching them and, realizing he is leaving, has hours of "last words" to impart. They are all attentive to the apostle's doctrine (Acts 2:42) except poor Eutychus who is probably tired after a long day's work ("first day" was not the Sabbath)
    3. He is taken up dead, but Paul says, "Do not trouble yourselves for his life is in him." like Jesus said before bringing Jairius's daughter back to life. Miracles were happening in the church like Acts 2:43 said.
    4. Then they "broke bread" just like Acts 2:46 says.
    5. They were "comforted" after Eutychus was alive, just like the church in Acts 2:46-7 with "gladness...simplicity of heart...praising God...."

    SO I believe the strange story of Eutychus NEAR THE END of Acts was put in here to show how the church was continuing to behave just like the church AT THE BEGINNING of Acts in chapter 2 had been.

    How's that professor?
    'course I am the teacher's pet :)

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  6. It’s been my experience that annoying habits like thumb sucking, facial tics, and nail biting are ways kids cope with stress or boredom or fatigue. And calling attention to it will probably make them keep doing it. Chances are, your kid won’t stop until he or she wants to and that’s when you offer to help. Until then, IGNORE IT and your child will probably grow out of it. Believe me, I did just about everything under the sun with my kids and I strongly recommend the “Ignore it and it will go away” strategy. (However, if the habit should become excessive and a health or safety issue, then it’s time to consult your pediatrician.)

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  7. Does the chicken dish have as one of its ingredients "blue pineapple"?

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  8. "Blue Pineapple"???!!! OMG, I fell for that one many moons ago when Gary and Richie were still in high school.

    But no, my chicken dish has equal portions of RED tomato sauce, WHITE sugar, and BROWN shoyu. Put it all in a pot with 5 to 8 lbs of chicken thighs, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour. Mmm, mmm, good!

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  9. OK, now we know how to beat a habit and the great chicken recipe. (I remember eating it, btw... very yummy!) How about the Microsoft Word trick?

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  10. When reading this story I thought about myself...

    Ok Well first let's look at Eutychus. He was trying to be obedient and listen to God's word spoken by Paul. But in his weaker human capacity was too tired to stay awake. So because of his humanly limits he fell asleep, and ultimatley fell to his death. But Paul comes and throws himself on him and puts his arms around him and claims "he is alive." They then go back upstairs and continue on with what they were doing. They do not dwell on what just happened. They continue on their journey to complete the works God called them to do.

    Ok in my own walk, I tried many times to be obedient but came across trials that left me feeling discouraged, weak, too tired, or dead to the word. I have learned that the Holy Spirit is there to breath life into me once again. He is my second wind, there to pick me up when I fall, dust me off, and sends me on my way...
    When i feel like I can not keep on,He renews my spirit; thereby giving me "new life" and asks me to continue on my journey.

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