Porky Party (Transcript)
Chris Sims: "Look you scoffers, marvel and vanish away, because I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe, even if someone were to explain it to you." Acts 13:41.
Hello friends and neighbors, and welcome to Apocrypals. It's the podcast where two non-believers read through the Bible, but we're not, you know, a-holes about it. My name is Chris Sims and with me as always is the other set of footprints, Benito Cereno. Benito, how are you today?
Benito Cereno: Chris, I'm excellent. How are you this very good holy week?
C: I'm very excited because this is our first episode of Apocrypals, and I am very much looking forward to talking about the Book of Acts, which is pretty amazing.
B: It is pretty good. I feel like we made a good choice for our first book, but I did want to ask, do you know what today is, the day that we're recording here during Holy Week? Do you know what today's name is?
C: Let's see. It's not Ash Wednesday because that already happened.
B: That's the one at the beginning of Lent, yeah.
C: And it's not Palm Sunday.
B: That was this past Sunday, yeah.
C: Yeah. And it's not Good Friday because it's Wednesday.
C: So no, what is today?
B: Today is called Spy Wednesday. It's Spy Wednesday.
C: I'm sorry?
B: Yeah, it's Spy Wednesday. S-P-Y, Spy. And it is traditionally the day on which Judas Iscariot turns Jesus over to the Romans. So the word spy in this case indicates an ambush or a betrayal. So today is Spy Wednesday. Tomorrow, do you know what tomorrow is called?
C: Tomorrow's Thursday. Yep. So that would be, is it Maundy Thursday?
B: It is Maundy Thursday. Yeah. Uh which is the the perfect like church sanctioned day to go get your petty is tomorrow because it's the day that you celebrate Jesus washing his disciples feet. So, go get your petty on tomorrow.
C: Then we got Good Friday. Yeah. Then. Bad Saturday.
B: Bad Saturday. Uh usually Holy Saturday is uh but yeah, bad Saturday. Huddle House Saturday. We used to call it in my teens because it was the day in which all the apostles went in huddled in a house because they were afraid because Jesus was dead and they didn't know what was gonna happen.
C: I am pretty sure from reading the menu at the Huddle House restaurant, which is like a third-rate Waffle House, that that is not the inspiration for the name Huddle House. B: No, I think not. Here take this waffle that I've given unto you, take and eat all of it? No, I don't think so.
C: Look, I don't I don't need a special occasion to take all of a waffle and eat of it. And then of course there's Easter Sunday, which is not today, and it's probably not today when you're listening to this, but it is it is time for us to talk about the Bible a little bit.
B: It is.
C: And this, it's good that you bring all this up, because today as I mentioned we are talking about the book of Acts which takes place immediately after Easter Sunday?
B: Pretty much. It's a couple, yeah, it's in the aftermath of that. It's within a month of Easter, yeah.
C: Now if you want to hear about why we chose the Book of Acts, we do go through it in detail on our Zero episode where we also talk about our history with the church and with religion in general and we kind of lay out our plan and talk about the version of the Bible we're using, but for anyone who just skipped ahead and wanted to get to get to the good, good Bible discussion, this book study that we're doing. Benito, this was your choice. Why did you choose to start us off with the book of Acts instead of a Genesis or even a Matthew?
B: When we first started this, I didn't realize we were gonna be doing it as a podcast, but I picked this one because...
C: Don't put that on me.
B: No, no, no. It was your idea. It was my idea. It was, it was, yeah, the podcast was also my idea. Yeah, that's true. But it was one of those things where once we got into it, I was like, oh, this is a podcast, right? This is a podcast. But I picked it because I thought we should start with the New Testament. It's just a little bit more familiar, a little bit easier to read. Also, most of the New Testament books are shorter than many Old Testament books. It would feature a cast of characters you would mostly be familiar with, but also, like I said, it's got action right there in the title. We've got not one but two evil wizards, and there are a number of other things that I thought would appeal to your particular sensibility so I thought this would be a good one to start with even though it is an explicit sequel which is maybe a little bit weird for the very first thing let's like to start with part two but we did it.
C: Odds are pretty good that if you are listening to a podcast about the Bible you are at least passingly familiar with the story of Jesus Christ and how and look I, you probably know what happens on Good Friday you probably know what happens on Easter Sunday. Those are the big ones. Those are the big ones.
B: Those are the big ones, yeah.
C: Probably know what happens on Christmas. Not a lot between those, honestly. There's some stuff. There's comb of the thieves. There's walking on water. There's feeding the masses. He does all that.
B: Yep. And you know, we will get there eventually. We'll get to read, well, four traditional versions of that and then multiple ones for people who are like, "Why doesn't anyone talk about what he did when he was a toddler. We can get to those too, but we'll have plenty of time to talk about the life of Jesus.
C:Let me introduce you to Thomas.
B:Yes, indeed. Indeed. But for now I thought we would start with these guys.
C:Right, so let's talk about Acts. Let's get into the book of Acts. This was a surprising one for me because, you know, like most people who have a more passing familiarity with the Bible, and I'm including myself in this, you kind of feel like, oh, right. Like, you know, Jesus is crucified, resurrects from the dead ascends to heaven. And then the rest of the New Testament is just letters, right? It's epistolary books. It's Romans, it's Corinthians, it's all that. And then you get to Revelation, which gets wild. I didn't realize there was going to be a lot of activity in the post Jesus pre-letters section of the Bible that would also involve other people doing miracles. That was the most surprising thing about Acts for me.
B: All right, yeah. I mean, it's the transition book, right? It's the transition from like, well, Jesus is gone from the earth physically. What happens now? Right? And also, you know, it has its own thesis to it, right? There's why is the book of Acts written? And because it stands for a question. And that question is, if Christianity is a Jewish religion in origin, why are most Christians Gentiles? That's the question that this book basically sets out to answer. It's an origin story for why most Christians were not actually Jewish. And you can see that in the structure of the book where all the action starts centered in Jerusalem and then it kind of spirals outward. You go from Jerusalem to Samaria to Syria, out into Asia Minor and then into Europe. And then finally, the book ends with the most influential Christian at the time literally sitting in the seat of the pagan empire, continuing his mission without hindrance. that's the end of the book. So you see the growth that literally follows a pattern. Like, if you look at a map, you can see the way that it's like concentric circles spreading outward. And that's kind of what the book is about.
So yeah, like I said, this book is an explicit sequel. One way we know that is because it literally starts with, "I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up after he had given orders to the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen." So, it literally starts with him saying, "Remember what I did in my first book." And one way that we know
C:It's a recap. It's like, it plays under the credits. Yeah. It's like a recap.
B:Previously in the Bible, yeah. So, like, yeah, so this is one way that we know that the author of the Book of Acts is the same guy as the author of the Gospel According to Luke, right?
C: Wait, wait, wait. Question. Why is it Luke and not Matthew? Or, sorry, or John? Because John's the last one. John's the one that comes immediately.
B: John is the last one, yeah. I don't exactly know why the Gospels get ordered the way that they are. It's not chronological. Mark is the earliest of the Gospels, for sure. Matthew and Luke would have been roughly contemporary. John would have have been the latest, but we know Luke and Acts are the same author. Through things like textual analysis we can see they use the same kind of vocabulary and phraseology, that kind of stuff. But also they're both addressed to this guy Theophilus, right? They're both written basically as, not quite a letter, but they're written to this guy. They say, "Hey Theophilus, here's a book I wrote for you." Who is Theophilus we do not know? I know, Chris, you don't speak Greek, but you might be able to put together.
C: Oh, but I can guess this one. Theo, meaning religion, and Phileas, or God, and Phileas meaning a lover of. So is Theophilus a specific person, or is he just saying, "Hey fans, I'm back. What's going on?"
B: You have literally hit on a question that people have been arguing for like 2,000 years. The question is, Is Theophilus a real person? Is it a nickname? Is it a code name? Is it just a name for like, "What's up, squad fam?" Yeah, basically, like, "Is that what's going on here at the beginning?" We don't know. Yeah, it just means a lover of God. And it could have been a real person's name that is lost to history. It could be a code name because he's a secret Christian. It could be a nickname. Yeah, we don't know. But it is one of those things that ties the two books together.
C: So it's either, it's either what's up squad or it's like when Bruno Mars tells Julio to get the stretch.
B: Yes. It's like that.
C: It's just a character that we don't know a lot about.
B: Exactly. Exactly. A character that we otherwise know nothing about. Yeah. As a result, both of these books since very, very, very early days have been attributed to Luke. the question is, "Who is Luke?" He is a name that we see appear a couple of times throughout Paul's letters. For example, Colossians 4:14 refers to Luke, the dearly loved physician, which is the only place we learn Luke's day job, right? He's not an evangelist by day. He is a physician. He began in 2 Timothy 4:11, where he says, "Only Luke is with me." This is Paul talking. "Bring Mark with you," which is believed to be the mark of Mark the Evangelist. And then in the book of Philemon, one you don't hear a lot about, verse 24, which doesn't even have chapters, it's so short. He says, "Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers." So he's mentioned a couple times in Paul's letters, so we...
B: Yes, indeed, as he refers to them. Yeah. So we see Luke in a couple of those places. So the question is, why do we assume that these books are written by a guy that was friends with Paul. I don't know if you know I don't know if you noticed this when you were reading Chris there are five five different sections in the in the book of Acts where it's suddenly just like low-key slips into first person where there's places where it's like Paul gets on the ship and then we sailed to here and then we went here and then we were put in prison and you know that kind of stuff. There's five there's five sections where that happens did you notice?
C: I did not.
B: Yeah, well those first-person passages are what have led people to assume that these books must be more or less first-person accounts or at least, you know, worst case, secondhand accounts of things that happened to a friend and companion of Paul. Luke becomes the good candidate because as a physician he would have been literate for one thing, which was not a guarantee at that time. Also Luke has a Greco-Roman name, right? The name Luke is derived ultimately from the Latin name Lucius. The fact that he has a Greco-Roman name is a good sign because the Book of Luke and also the Book of Acts are largely concerned with and targeted towards Gentile audiences. And so the fact and his phraseology, his terminology, those kind of things within the text point to the idea that this is a Greek guy, not a Jewish guy, who's writing these things.
C: Okay, well here's my question.
C: Why wouldn't it be Paul? Is it because there's discussion of Paul in this? And the reason I ask is this. Not to get too far afield right here at the beginning before we've even gotten past chapter one, verse one of this book, but we know in the Apocryphal Acts where the homie Simon Magus comes back, that Peter and Paul in that book are the ones who go see Nero and have an encounter with Simon Magus. So like it is not mentioned I believe that Paul goes with Peter on the boat in this one, so it would seem like he would be a likely candidate for the companion.
B: Yeah, no. No?
C: Okay, okay. That's just a flat no.
B: Yeah, for one thing, yeah, the acts of Peter and Paul, which we'll get into later, are considerably later than this, right? Like, one of the reasons--
C: I mean, I'm not surprised.
B: Yeah, I mean, one of the reasons that they're apocryphal is that they were written like a full three centuries after this, probably, like around the time that canon was being established, basically. But--
C: Well, here, I don't know what you want to do with this podcast, but I'm planning on solving everything that has been asked for two thousand years.
B: Sure, sure, yeah. I feel like that's a good thing we should set up front. We should say, "Hey guys, I know everyone's been talking about this for 2,000 years or more, if we include the Hebrew Scriptures we're talking, we're going back 4,000 years maybe. Suddenly, we're going to solve everything and also we're going to cover everything. So definitely, if you hear this and we don't hit your favorite story, please angrily hit us up on Twitter, because we intend to be as exhaustive as possible in an hour to 90 minute a week podcast or whatever. We're gonna cover everything." We're gonna make--
C: Who's just gonna solve it all is a guy who's read the Bible a lot and his friend, The College Dropout.
B: Yeah, man, we're gonna make Tertullian look like a straight fool. We're gonna be like, get out of here, Augustan of Hippo, get with your mind trash. We're gonna come in here and we're gonna solve it all once a week on Apple Podcasts. Support our Patreon.
C: Which we do not have yet.
B: Which we do not have yet.
C: If we do, we are going to call it a collection Patreon.
B: Yes, the collection, and let me say, obviously I was being sarcastic, there's no way we're gonna cover everything, and if we do miss your favorite story, why don't you write it on the outside of an offering envelope, slip it in the old plate, and then maybe we'll think about getting to it and addressing your concerns. All right.
C: You know, I believe this book directly speaks against that kind of tactic.
B: You're exactly right. Anyway, in terms of dating this book, when does it come out? There's a range, we know the earliest possible date for it is around 65 to 67 CE. Why do we know that? Well, because it describes things that happened in those years, right? Like the bit with Paul at the end, we know that was happening around the mid 60s because when it mentions actual like historical figures that we can verify those things, we know obviously if it's describing an action has to have come out after that. So the absolute earliest we're looking at mid-60s CE.
However, many scholars think that the tone represents kind of a maturity of thought that would have required time for someone to think about this for a little bit and then reflect on the early church history. And so most modern mainstream scholars are going to date the Book of Acts somewhere between the 80s and the 90s CE.
C: Only 90s kids will remember the Book of Acts.
B: Only 90s kids remember Simon Magus. But like another way that we can create a range for books is yeah, we look at the actions and we can say obviously it came out after the things that it's describing. And then we can look and see when do other people start talking about the book, right? When do we find another text that refers to this book and we know that puts a floor on it, right? Like it obviously came out before someone else was talking about it in their book. And that helps create a range. So in this case we're looking at probably 80s or 90s CE, so not too far a field from the life of Jesus and that kind of stuff. I should say like the rest of the New Testament, this book is written in Greek, a style of Greek known as Koine Greek, which would have been common throughout the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which would have included Judea, which is where all these characters and people are from.
C: So when I compared the book of Acts to the movie Star Wars The Force Awakens, you're saying it was way better a comparison than I thought it was 'cause Luke's here. It's about 40 years after the original. The good guys have won, but uh oh, things are getting a little hairy again.
B: Yeah, it was a very apt comparison. And the Holy Spirit is way more like the Force than you could ever imagine, I think. That's the other thing.
C: Boy is it, which also surprised me. So let's get into the events of the book. 'Cause we've got the little intro. What's up fam? It's your boy Luke here to tell you all the story about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I went to Rome with Peter.
B: With Paul.
C: Or Paul.
B: Yeah. Continue.
C: Yeah, look, it's tough. (laughing) Again, if you missed the zero episode, the entire reason that we're doing this is that I could name more Supreme Court justices than I can apostles?
B: You could probably also name more members of the Supremes than you could apostles, so speaking of that.
C: Yeah, probably.
C: Fortunately, we get a rundown right up front. We get a dramatis personae.
C: Real quick. So here's our boys. We got Peter, The Rock.
B: Indeed. Peter The Rock, Simon.
C: You called him Simon The Rock Peter, which I liked a lot.
B: I mean The Rock Peter.
C: We've got John. No, is that John the Evangelist?
B: Arguably, traditionally it is, yeah.
C: Okay, we've got James.
B: That's their brothers, the Sons of Thunder, they are called, James and John.
C: We've got, wait, is that not James the brother of Jesus?
B: No, we're gonna get back to that. This is James the brother of John. This is James the Great, as he is called.
C: Oh, that's a dope name.
B: Yeah, so Peter, James, and John are like, in the Gospels, they're the three big ones. They're the big three, right? So that's why they're listed first.
C: Okay, so we've got those three. Andrew.
B: Yep, which is Peter's brother.
C: Thomas, oh, he's the one who doubts, I know him.
B: That's the one, yep.
C: Now, is that the Thomas of the Infancy Gospels, allegedly?
B: Allegedly, yeah.
C: We've got Bartholomew. Anything I need to know about him going forward?
B: Not really. No, he's not a major player.
C: We got Matthew.
B: Right, this is Matthew the Evangelist, allegedly.
C: Right, the first guy in the NT.
B: Yeah, also known as Levi, that's his other name.
C: All right, we had a conversation about this, we'll get to it in a minute.
C: We've got James the son of Alphaeus.
B: Right, so this is, he's known as James the Less, right? To compare with James the Great. So just in term, which yeah, which is a really sucky thing, nickname to get. But it's really just to contrast the importance of their roles in the gospels. There's a lot of questions about James the son of Alphaeus and we'll come back to him, we'll come back to him.
C: All right, and our last two, we've got Simon the Zealot.
C: Who I guess was just really into it.
B: Yes, and zealots were, they were like a religious sect/ political party at the time. So it's not just that he's really into it, but it's a specific thing.
C: And then our last guy, the unfortunately named Judas, the son of James.
B: Right, and this is not Judas Iscariot. This is Judas Thaddeus, as he's known, and so he is frequently also known as Saint Jude, right? So if you know the Saint Jude Children's Hospital, that's this guy.
Yeah, obviously that's 11 because we're missing Judas Iscariot at this point.
C: Yeah, and we should also say they are also hanging out with Mary, who is not in the title page lineup, but she is mentioned as being there continually united in prayer. But yes, we have 11 of these boys because the 12th, as you may have heard, is currently being eaten by Satan, according to Dante Alguieri.
B: Yeah, getting chewed up.
C: So what happened to him according to, according to Acts 1:15.
B: Yeah, according to Acts, your boy blew up.
B: He blew up.
C: If you're familiar with the Bible story, it's usually depicted as Judas committing suicide by hanging himself. That's what's in your Jesus Christ superstars.
B: It's what's in Matthew 27:5. Matthew 27:5 says, "He threw the silver into the sanctuary and departed, then he went and hanged himself." That's your, that's the gospel version.
C: Acts, Book One, chapters 8 and 19 say, "Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages. He fell head first and burst open in the middle and all his insides spilled out. This became note to all the residents of Jerusalem so that in their own language, the field is called Hakeldama, that is, field of blood."
B: Yeah, man, we're starting off.
C: What do you like better? Judas going and like being wracked with guilt and hanging himself, or Judas exploding and all the blood of his body shooting out like it's Evil Dead 2?
B: Yeah man, I don't think, I don't think, that's obviously a rhetorical question. You don't need me to answer that. Luke is coming out the gate hot. We know, we know this book is something special because it starts with a man exploding and his blood spraying all across the field.
C: This is the first page in my copy of the Bible, which is the HCSB. Yep. So you can read along in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Or, you know, it's also in, I'm guessing this is in most Bibles.
C: But yeah, page one is, hey, we're back. What's up everybody, we're back. Here's who I'm hanging out with. Also remember that dude? He exploded and all the blood came out of his body. All the blood and guts. It's literally blood and guts on page one. That's the first page.
B: Yeah, man.
C: Here's what's wild though. The HCSB has little chapter headings. So you know what's going on in each little section. Those are not in every Bible. Like I don't believe traditionally they're in the King James version.
B: It depends on the edition.
C: But the little headline for the section where Judas explodes is "Methias is chosen."
C: Because this book is like, "Hey, this guy exploded and now everybody calls that place the Field of Blood," which is a dope name, by the way. "Also, let's get into some parliamentary procedure, "because we wanna get some new apostles in here."
C: And then they devote the next couple of pages to being like, "Well, we gotta pray about it, "we gotta have elections, we gotta see who's nominated." And they wind up on Matthias.
[Audio: "And Stephen!"]
C: So yeah, those are our guys. Just like, "Hey, Matthias and Stephen are here."
B: Yeah, I mean, yeah, Stephen is not, he's not one of the 12, he's not one of the big 12, but he is among the new early church disciples. Yeah, and so, but yeah, that's pretty much at the end there, and they call this section of Matthias chosen, which really feels like burying the lead. If this were my edition of the Bible, that header would, one hundo p, say Judas explodes, right? That's the header.
C: Yeah, and I feel like this is another example of you knowing me, and when I'm like, hey man, I wanna read the Bible, and brush up and learn some things, You're like, start here, a dude explodes.
B: Yeah, you know.
C: We get a lot of parliamentary procedure. And this is what's weird about the early part of the Book of Acts. Dude explodes, we had an election, and then it goes back to, oh, by the way, Peter can do miracles.
C: Which I was actually very surprised about because I was under the impression, and I don't know if this is a thing from being raised Protestant, that we are not, we as in Protestants, which I don't really consider myself anymore, but it's how I was raised. Protestants do not generally concern themselves with saints, right? Like there are a few sects of Protestantism, I believe the Episcopalian church and the Anglican church still recognize saints. But Southern Baptist sure doesn't.
B: No, absolutely not. Many Protestant denominations, their idea is the sainthood of all believers. The idea is that if you become a Christian, you're a saint, you did it, good job. And there's no difference between you, not you, you, but you know what I mean? And say Saint Christopher, right? Except that he's also a werewolf, but you know, whatever.
C: He got kicked out too, I know that.
C: 'Cause I have a vested interest in knowing that. He got kicked out and then reinstated.
B: Because they were like, "Wait, we gave a sainthood to a werewolf? That's messed up." Anyway, but like their idea is there's no significant difference between you two. And also that the veneration of saints, the idea that you would pray to a saint is a little redolent of idolatry for many evangelical denominations. They don't like the idea of praying to someone who's not God, basically.
C: I had grown up kind of assuming that you hear about the Jesus miracles, right? Like you hear about the Saint stories, but those are obviously much later. I think if you are not raised Catholic, are presented to you as kind of dubious, you know, they're presented to you almost like, like fairy tales, honestly. Like, I mean, a dude fights a dragon.
B: And more than one and way more than one.
C: A dude fights the last dragon in one of them. That's right. Tiamat shows up in St. George's story, but I had always kind of assumed, and I don't know if this is just me assuming it, or if this is something that was taught to me that miracles like resurrecting the dead, healing the sick were the provenance of Jesus. He was the guy who could do it. That's why, you know, faith healing is bad. It's Jesus had that power. That's one of the reasons, you know, he's the son of God roll up into act and Pentecost rolls around. And then Peter's like B.T.Dubs, uh, I can heal the sick. I can resurrect the dead, which is kind of a big one. That's just really kind of like, like by the way, uh, somebody fell off a building and died and Peter was like, Hey, it's okay. Wake up. And she did.
B: Yeah. Uh, we also see, uh, later we see Paul, uh, resurrecting someone from the dead as well. They each get to do one.
C: And he's not even in the original crew.
B: Yeah. He's not even a founder. Um, but, uh, yeah, I mean, uh, we do see in the Gospels, we see some of the apostles having the ability to heal the sick and that kind of stuff, but their powers definitely get amped up following Pentecost. And I feel we should probably talk about what like what is Pentecost? What does that mean? Why is it important? So yeah, Pentecost comes from a Greek word that just means 50th because it's the 50th day after Passover or now within. So within the context of the apostles, they would have been looking at 50 days after Passover. It's seven weeks, seven... and now Christian Pentecost is... it's the seventh Sunday after Easter. So that comes to 49, but in ancient times they counted inclusively, so you count including the day that you're on, so it would equal 50.
Anyway, but within Jewish tradition, Pentecost is celebrated as traditionally the day that the law was given, like Moses coming down and such. And so it's just, yes, 50 days, 50 days after Passover. I feel like we, in America, it's not as big a thing. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Or maybe it's just within evangelical churches it's not as big a thing. I know in Europe they celebrate it more. In England it's also known as Whitsunday, White Sunday. It's the last day of the Easter season if you're in a church that recognizes liturgical seasons, right? Like the Easter season obviously starts with Easter. It would end 50 days later at Pentecost. Also, Pentecost, relevant to your interest, would have been the day on which King Arthur gathered the round table and gave them all a quest. So most big stories of the round table start at Pentecost.
C: But not Sir Gawain, though. That's Christmas.
B: They did tend to-- Pentecost and Christmas were the big Christian holidays where they would assemble and discuss their feats and then usually get some kind of quest. But that makes sense.
C: If it's 50 days after Passover, that's like an every-six-months sort of thing, right? You know, check in.
B: But yeah, so Pentecost becomes a big deal here because it's the day on which the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles. And that's really why. That's where you get the big transition from the very afraid and sometimes goofy and incompetent apostles of the Gospels, right? Like, when you think of Peter, like when we were first starting, you just assumed Peter was always going to be like the lovable doofus, right, who's always like hecking up, right? Because that's kind of what you get in the Gospels, right? Like, he's like, "Hey, Jesus, I'm gonna walk on water too. Whoa, I fell," right? Or "I'm gonna deny you three times," or, you know, whatever.
But yeah, like at this point, the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of flame appears above their heads, descends upon them, gives them superpowers and also the power of super competency, which they were lacking before. They're not hiding anymore. And in fact, they begin, this is the point at which they begin to be fearlessly killed, right? Like we start to see the apostles getting killed off, not all in here, but this is where it starts because they stop being afraid. They're no longer huddling in the house. They're going out.
C: Yeah, I know at least two of those dudes in our opening crawl were pretty famously to the point where we still refer to things as St. Peter's Crosses and St. Andrew's Crosses.
B: Yeah, of course the St. Peter's Cross is not within the Bible, but we're gonna get to that. But yeah, so the tongues of flame you can see reflected in if you ever see a Methodist church, right? If you ever see a Methodist church, their sign, if they're part of the United Methodists, their logo on their sign is going to be a cross with a tongue of flame next to it. It's not like a Klan thing. It's not a burning cross. It's the tongues of flame that represent the Holy Spirit, right? And then of course, the Pentecostal church is so-called because their denomination focuses on connection through the Holy Spirit and the movement of the Holy Spirit within people, and it makes you shake in the floor and whatever.
So yeah, so Pentecost, bigger deal for some denominations than others, I guess is what I'm getting at, but it's a very significant day for the history of the apostles.
C: Right, so they get the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit returns to them to hang out, I guess, in their – and is very much presented like the force. Like, they can use it for things.
B: Yeah. It's not just a thing where every Christian suddenly has it and can do all these things, because we see some of the other believers try to do it. It is specifically the apostles and then their closest followers who actually have the powers associated with the Holy Spirit.
C: So the first thing they decide to use with the Holy Spirit is to create communism. It says in, again, this is the HCSB translation, Acts 4:34-35, "For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of things that were sold and laid them at the apostles' feet. This was then distributed for each person's basic needs." That's literally the definition of communism.
C: From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.
B: Yeah, that's, um, yeah. And it follows what Jesus says in the Gospels. Jesus says, "Go sell all your stuff, give the money to the poor. You don't need anything, leave it. Just follow me. Your needs will be taken care of. You don't need to own property." Like, that's... That's legit, that's the early church, right? To the point where we see here in chapter five, right? The story of Ananias and Sapphira, right? We've got--
C: Oh, I was excited about this story. It's pretty dope.
B: We got the story, we got this guy Ananias and his wife Sapphira, they are followers, they are members of the church. They have a piece of property, they sell it, and as it says, he kept back part of the proceeds with his wife's knowledge and brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles feet. You know, he goes about it halfway, right? I'm going to partially do what you said. I'm gonna be a partial Communist, gonna keep a few things in my own pocket 'cause you know, bootstraps, et cetera. And then yeah, Peter's like, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds from the field? And he dies.
C: He doesn't die. He is struck dead by the Holy Spirit.
B: Yeah, he heard these words, "He dropped dead and a great fear came on all who heard. Young men got up, wrapped his body, carried him out and buried him."
C: And we know that it wasn't just like, oh, he was caught in a lie and had a heart attack and dropped, 'cause then Sapphira shows up and Peter's like, hey, was this all the money from the sale of your land? And she was like, yeah, pretty sure. And he's like, well, I'm pretty sure the Holy Ghost is gonna strike you dead.
B: And it happens.
C: Which happens.
B: It happens, yeah, very good. It is wild to read that, right? God is literally murdering people for not being sufficiently socialist, and look at how far we've come. Look how far we've come.
C: Yeah, dude, that is shocking. It was very surprising to me to find out that, first of all, I feel like if the Pope could call down the Holy Spirit, 'cause Peter's the first Pope, right?
C: That's his deal?
C: Yeah. If the Pope can call down the Holy Spirit to strike down enemies of the church, I feel like the history of Western civilization takes a dramatic turn.
B: Yeah, there are definitely some Popes in the Middle Ages who, if they had that power to kill people with mind bullets, they would have, for sure. Like, literally, you have--
C: Certainly in Avignon.
B: I was gonna say, Popes and anti-Popes, that would have been wild. That would have been wild. Magic Popes versus anti-Popes just flying around, zapping each other with tongues of flame. European history, AP, take me away.
C: And I feel like we would have heard about that.
B: Yeah, I feel like we would have.
C: So Peter's full communism, like full on, sell your land, let's get it going comrades. Apostles of the world unite. And everybody's pretty into this. Stephen's pretty into it. So into it that he gets stoned.
B: Yeah, but you know, not that kind of stoned.
B: So yeah, Stephen is an interesting character in that, like, he's not a thing before this. Like, who is Stephen? I don't know. Well, suddenly he shows up. He's one of these seven deacons, basically, that are chosen by the apostles to be these other ministers. Yeah, Stephen, "a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,"" and then all these other guys. And Stephen gets accused of blasphemy. He gives a big speech. It's the longest speech in the entire book of Acts. Stephen gets more floor time than even Paul or James, who speaks later. And then, yeah, then they throw rocks at him until he is dead, which makes him, yeah, the first Christian martyr. That's what he's largely remembered for because he only appears in this, you know, basically one chapter. A chapter in some change from Acts.
C: Well, in the special edition he's gonna be a Forest Ghost.
B: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, but this is the Saint Stephen that we remember on December 26th, right? If you, Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen, that's this guy.
I do have, I did want to note, I have a somewhat personal connection to Stephen in that when I When I was 10 or 11 years, probably 10, I sang a song in church all about Stephen and it has stuck with me. It was not like a hymn or anything, not a traditional song. It was what could very easily be called a contemporary Christian song, not at all a Christian rock song, do not be confused. There's a song by a guy named Ray Bolts, who I probably-- maybe his biggest hit song was one called "Thank You," which is a weird kind of self-congratulatory song about a guy who dreams he goes to heaven. And all these people come up and were like, oh, you taught my Sunday school and you saved my life. I'm in heaven because of that. That's the premise of the song. And he also wrote a song called very excellently, "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb." Yeah, not a Carman song, actually. But this song was called "Someone Stood Up for Stephen." And so it's one of those that still pops up in my head. It does the whole story of Stephen getting stoned and the sky opens up and the clouds rolled away. Someone saw Stephen and then someone stood up for Stephen 'cause Stephen stood up for him.
C: That's a very good personal testimony. Here's the thing I like about the bit about Saint Stephen or Stephen the first Christian martyr. He dies. He gets, they throw rocks at him until he's dead. But I like the bit right after that 'cause it's totally like dude turning towards the camera 'cause the next sentence after the death of Stephen is "Saul agreed with putting him to death." So that's very much like, oh, hey, here's Saul. Remember him.
B: We straight up transitioned from like, here's this guy. We just introduced him and we killed him off immediately, but we really did that so that we could pan up and you could see the guy standing on the edge, like nodding approvingly. By the way, he's gonna get the character arc. He's the main character of this book, actually. We're eight chapters in, but he's the actual main character of this book, yeah.
C: Here's Darth Saul with his double-bladed lightsaber that he's gonna be using to breathe murder against the Christians. But before we get into more of Saul's story.
C: We take a little detour to Simon Magus.
B: Yeah, boy. So--
C: One paragraph. He exists in one paragraph. He exists in, I guess it's more than one paragraph, but he's in act 8:9 through Acts 8:25, and that is it.
B: Yeah, that's it. We see him, they introduce him, and they say, "Hey, there's this guy Simon. He was a sorcerer, by the way. He's a Christian now, but he was a sorcerer." And yeah, the main thing that within canonical, within the canonical Bible, there's one thing that he does, and basically he tries to bribe his way to Holy Spirit powers. He's like, how much will it cost for me to get that good, good tongue of flame? And that hasn't, and for that, his name, you know, if we're strictly following the canon, he inspires the sin that is known as simony, named after him. So it's just Simon with a Y on the end of it. Simony, and the idea is you try to pay for a higher position in the church, right? If you were like, how much is it, you know, if I slip you a 20, could I be an archbishop or whatever? Right, like that would be, that's simony.
C: Yeah, you're gonna wanna remember that if you ever study, let's just say the period between like 800 AD and about like the, like charitably, like we'll say the 20th century.
B: Yeah, there's no shortage of simony, especially among popes in the Middle Ages, yeah, 100%.
C: Probably the big one's gonna be your Alexander VI.
C: On that front.
B: Yeah, couple, yeah, couple of notable.
C: The Borgia boys.
B: Yeah, couple notable ones there. But yeah, that's what we see of him in the Bible, that's it. Like, of the canonical scriptures, that's it. However, like his name stands out to us. Like, people know the name Simon Magus, to the point where he fought the Justice League, right? Simon Magus fought the Justice League. You don't just pick a guy who tried to buy superpowers. He appears in like 16 verses, and then you're like, yeah, that's the guy I want to fight, the Justice League. No, because Simon Magus is actually a much bigger deal once you look outside of the canonical scriptures. We will come back to him. We're gonna put a little pin, We'll pin in that boy right now. We'll come back to him because we have plenty more to say about Simon Magus. But I did want to point out, like I said in the beginning when we were talking about the book, he's not the only evil wizard in the book. Like he doesn't even do wizard stuff here. He tries to do bribery, which is the worst spell I've ever seen. Like they don't even teach it at Hogwarts.
Like, I don't know. And like the cool thing is, like I was saying earlier, Simon Magus is not even the only evil wizard in the book. We get to see Peter confront Simon Magus here in chapter 8, but then later in chapter 13, we see Paul confront his own evil wizard, whose name even means evil wizard. So pretty good and convincing. From chapter 13, verse 8, "Elymas the sorcerer this is the meaning of his name, opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Saul, also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer and said, 'You son of the devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness, won't you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? Now look, the Lord's hand is against you. You're going to be blind and you will not see the sun for a time.' Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand." So, uh, he blinds a guy.
C: That sounds an awful lot like the last bit of Witches Invitation to me, minus the blinding.
B: It does, it sure does, yeah. Do you think Elymas Sorcerer had Dungeons and Dragons in his house? I don't know.
C: Probably so, and a Ouija board.
B: Probably did.
C: Now you brought something up that I was very frustrated with, even reading the HCSB, which is a modern translation, that's still being updated and gone through, which is that everybody's got two names, but there are only like eight names total.
B: Yeah, it's true. There were a number of very common names, especially Hebrew names. Like, there's so many guys named Judas. It's really weird and, like, unfortunate that Judas is also the name of, like, the biggest human villain of the New Testament, because, as we saw, it's also the name of another apostle. Like, there's 12 apostles, but there's only like six names among those 12 guys because there's two Simons, right? Our boy Simon, the rock Peter. Well, once Matthias joins, I mean, that's Matthew, right?
C: There's two Mathews.
B: Yeah, there's two Judases. And so sometimes you end up with--
C: There's two Jameses.
B: Yeah, there's two Jameses, yeah. And so, and that's part of the reason why you get so-and-so also called so-and-so, right? Part of the reason is that. But really what's going on there in most cases, Simon is an exception, or Peter is an exception. We'll come back in a second. But in most of those cases, what's going on is those people have a Hebrew name, and that name could be John or James. These are obviously, those are the anglicized versions of Hebrew names like Yochanon and Yaakov, right? But you have John or James or Simon. Those are Hebrew names, but because Judea was part of the Roman Empire at this time, many of the people also had Greco-Roman names. So they might have a Greek name like Andrew or Philip, those are Greek names, or they might have a Latin name like in the case of John Mark, right? John also called Mark. So John would be his Hebrew name, Mark is Marcus, right? So the almost quintessentially Roman name, Marcus.
And so probably the key example of that is Paul, right, who kind of takes over the book coming up here pretty soon. He's famously known as Saul when we first see him, but very soon they refer to him as Paul. And in a lot of places you might see people say that that is an indication of his transition from Pharisee, where we see him at the beginning, after his conversion he starts going by Paul, which first of all, that doesn't make any sense. Why would he do that? Why would he be like, "Well, I'm a Christian now, so I'm gonna make my name a thing that rhymes with my real name." I don't know. And it also doesn't line up with the chronology. So Saul would be a Hebrew, is a Hebrew name, right? It's the name of the first king of Israel, King Saul, right? And Paul is a Roman name, it's Latin, Paulus, right? It's the name that then gives us like Pablo, right? And so he probably, in that case, he probably chose Paulus as his Roman name, possibly because it sounds similar to Saul. But what we actually see is he starts using Paul not when he becomes a Christian, but rather when his mission turns outward to communicating to Gentiles, right? Trying to spread the message to the Greeks. And so when he's trying to effectively communicate with Greeks, he starts using his Greek name. That makes sense, right?
C: I guess we need to get to Paul now.
B: I think we do.
C: Because this is a story so important that it is told in its entirety twice in the span of about eight pages.
B: Three times, all told. Three times we get the origin recap of Paul on the Road to Damascus, which makes me ask the question, was this book edited by Jim Shooter? Every chapter could be someone's first chapter.
C: It is pretty weird, 'cause I do not think of, I don't think even though we've been at this for like an hour now, I don't feel like people usually leave off in the middle of books of the Bible and need to come back and be like, "Hey everybody, just to bring you up, Paul was on the road to Damascus and was struck blind."
B: Yeah, and it was Jesus. Jesus was the light. And then he saw the error of his ways during the time period in which he could not see anything else. Three times we see that story.
C: So this is a pretty famous story. This is every face turn, every villain giving it all up and deciding to be a hero is usually referred to as a Damascus moment. Sometimes even canonically, if you come from comics like we do, famously Emma Frost in the Grant Morrison run on X-Men refers to becoming a good guy as her "Paul on the road to Damascus moment." Now here's what's weird about Paul. It says shortly before this, in fact, it's the first part of, it's chapter nine, verse one. "Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," which is a great opening sentence for a new chapter. It's maybe the finest use of "mean-while" ever.
B: Yeah. Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, Saul was breathing threats and murder.
C: Saul is pretty super into persecution of early Christians.
C: He gets equally into the Lord, like, in about five minutes. Or I guess it's probably like an hour. It's a long road to Damascus.
B: Yeah, he definitely is one of those guys who just moves from, like, obsession to obsession, for sure, right? Like, yeah, he is pretty hardcore into the persecution of Christians. We do learn later that he is a member of the Pharisees, the guys who, kind of, in a way, the major villains of the Gospels, who – the Pharisees were just – they were a religious sect, arguably also a political party at this time. Their main thing was strict adherence to the law, right? And so that's why they didn't like Jesus, because Jesus was like, "Hey, what's up? It's all all about faith, the law. You'll follow the law if your faith is there, right? They didn't care for that. Like, that was that was kind of their major thing.
So we see, we learned that Paul is a Pharisee, so he would have been super into strict and conservative interpretations of the Jewish religion. We also learned significantly that he is a Roman citizen, which he would have earned, he would have earned through one of his father or his grandfather or something who would have earned this citizenship through some favor of, you know, the Emperor or something like that.
C: So this leads to my favorite part of the Book of Acts. Even more favorite than Judas exploding, even more favorite than the setup of evil wizards that's going to come back in the expanded universe. Paul is super into whatever he's doing. He's like, "Yes, throw more rocks at Stephen. Thank you. I'm going to breathe some threats and murder. Let's do this." He becomes a Christian and then immediately is like, "Hey everybody, y'all need to get into Jesus," and starts like going around, basically yelling at the entire world.
B: He goes around the entire known world basically at that point. Yeah.
C: To the point where other Jews are like, Hey, you need to stop because we don't believe that Jesus was the Messiah. We like, this is like, this is wrong. You were basically spreading heresy. And he's like, well, I want to be tried by Romans. Then I'm a Roman. It's my right to be tried in a court. So if you want to take this to court, let's go to court.
C: And they do. And so we get my favorite character in the Bible thus far, which I believe is probably gonna be a recurring segment. And that is Festus.
B: Porcius Festus.
C: Festus rolls up, Festus rolls up. He's a judge and he has heard that someone has committed crimes that requires the invention intervention of a Roman judge. Now, Benito, you would be more familiar with this than I am. Is this like a rare event that like a judge would have to like sit down and hear a crime? Cause it seems like he's coming to this specifically to address this from another place. Like he doesn't know what's been going on in Judea.
B: No, he would be in Judea. He's actually a little bit more than a judge. He's, he's the full on magistrate. Like he's the, um, he's basically the governor, the Roman governor of Judea at this point. Like he's, he's the second one that Paul encounters. The first one is he's first taken to trial in front of a guy named Felix, but Felix basically gets fired because he does a terrible job. Like, his main job is to moderate disagreements between Romans and Jews, right? And he does a bad job of that, so he gets fired and he gets replaced by your boy Festus, right?
So he's actually, he's considerably higher than a judge. He's basically the governor, the Roman governor of Judea at this time. So it's a pretty big deal and the only reason he gets brought in is because of the fact that Paul has that Roman citizenship. Otherwise they would literally, if he were just a Judean, they would literally, if he were in trial, they would beat him. They'd whip him before he could give testimony, which is the thing that Romans used to do with slaves no matter what because they always assumed that a slave or a non-citizen would be a hostile witness and they would need to be tortured in order to give true testimony. So they almost do that to him and then he's like, "Hold up y'all, Roman citizen right here." And they're like, "Oh snap." And they get to take him to Festus, yeah.
C: So Festus rolls up and apparently all he's heard is that there is a crime committed by a Roman citizen that requires his intervention.
B: Yeah, and he naturally assumes, he's like, "Oh, someone is fomenting revolution, someone is...
C: Yeah, like we've got, we've got, like, revolution, we've got sedition, we've got a serial killer...
B: And that's a complete natural thing for him to think at this point in history, right? Like, if you've seen The Life of Brian, the jokes there about the United People's Front of Judea and all that stuff, that's all real, right? All of these, like, competing different factions of people who want to rebel against the Romans. Like, here we're only a few years out from, like, the real for real Jewish revolution that's ultimately overthrown by the Emperor Titus. Like that's coming up in 70 AD, right? So we're here in the early 60s, so we're not far away from that. So it's completely normal for Festus to assume that they're bringing in a revolutionary leader.
C: Festus hears the case, and then he goes to talk to some Roman friends of his, and look, as we say at the top of every show, we are non-believers. And I think because of that, I think we are at an understanding where the Bible is not necessarily the most reliable source of historical accuracy, because it's a sacred text. It's a religious text, that's what its focus is on. There is nothing that has made me, there is nothing that has seemed as accurate as what Festus says.
B: It's Agrippa. Agrippa, so that's Herod Agrippa. This is, he's the king. He's the king of Judea, basically. He's the son of Herod from the Christmas story, right?
C From the massacre of the innocence.
B: Yeah, that guy. This is his son, and then his wife is Bernice.
C: Festus goes and talks to his friends, who are some Romans named Agrippa and Bernice. So Festus is like coming through, and he stops and he talks to them. I don't, do we, I don't think we get like the actual part of Festus hearing about the, like hearing the case. We just get him talking about it.
B: I think that's right.
C: And he goes, all right, so get this. I was brought in to hear a crime, like, you know, murder and instead they were basically debating their whole religion and it seem to center on this guy Jesus, who's dead, but this guy Paul says he's alive. I don't know what to do with this. None of this is actually illegal.
B: Yeah, that's, it's the, it's the best thing because he's going in and, quick correction, sorry, Bernice is Agrippa's sister, not his wife. Okay, anyway, that one was on me, sorry. But, uh, anyway, uh, yeah, he, he comes in and he's like, I'm expecting a revolution. Instead, it's a group of guys and a guy arguing about whether a different guy is dead or alive. This guy, Jesus, his questions are, he's like, "I have two questions. One, who is Jesus? Two, why does anyone care?"
C: Here's the way it's actually phrased in the book of Acts chapter 25 verse 19. "Instead, they had some disagreements with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, a dead man Paul claimed to be alive." That is, I love this because I find early Christianity to be very fascinating. It's actually my wife has a degree in the study of early Christianity. But I love this dude who's showing up after Jesus and has never heard of it. And he just rolls up and he's like, yeah, like he's very confused by the entirety of this weird commune and dudes talking about this dead guy who may or may not be alive. This dude who was recorded to be executed by the Roman Empire, but then this other, this Paul who's I'm sure shouting at him is talking about how he is alive and probably being like, "No, you don't understand. I went blind."
B: Yeah. And he gets so mad Paul goes, "I demand to see Caesar. I gotta see Caesar. Caesar or nobody. Caesar or no one." And then later they're like, "If he had not said Caesar's name, he would be free right now, but we gotta send him to Rome, 'cause he demanded it." And that's his right.
C: Yeah, this is like he's about to hand down not guilty.
C: No crime has been committed. And instead my dude is like, "Take me to the Emperor, it's my right."
:B Like Festus is like written down. He's got "N O T G U I L T". And then he's in the middle of the "Y" and Paul's like, "Caesar, please." And he's got to crumple up the paper, toss it in the fire.
C: And this is so great because I love the fact that this is not, you know, we don't see the trial scene. This is not Festus making an announcement to the apostles. This is not Festus talking directly to Paul. This is Festus with his bros being like, you will not believe what happened at work today. And that's the most relatable thing in this, in the book of Acts is a guy going to work and somebody's yelling at him and he doesn't know why.
C: Festus is setting the mark to beat.
B: For sure. He's, he's good. Oh, I forgot. I have, I have a very good fact that I think will endear Festus to you even more that I wanted to mention. Guess what his name means?
C: Uh, well, I mean like I assume it has something to do with the word festering. Is it the same?
B:Festering, no. The word you should be thinking of is the--
B: Festival or fiesta. Those are the related words you should be thinking of.
C: Is his name Party Dude?
B: His name is Party Dude.
C: Yes, Party Dude is my favorite character in the Bible. It's like, it's gonna take a lot to beat him.
B: Yeah, he's--
C: I mean, I know we're gonna eventually be reading about the literal son of God, but Festus is pretty tight.
B: We also see, Romans at this time would have had three names. We don't know what his first name is. We see that his family name is Porcious and Festus is, well, Porcious is a clan name, Festus is the family name, and so his name is, his name is Porky Party Dude. Porky Party Dude is his name.
C: Oh, that's so very good.
B: Yeah. He's pretty good.
C: So the rest of the book, basically like Paul, is like it's his journey to Rome to go talk to Caesar.
C: And he, you know, the ship gets wrecked because there's a storm and Paul's like, "Don't worry. Look, I know we've been trapped on the Sea of Galilee for a while, but you guys go ahead and eat your food. The Lord is going to provide." And then they go to Malta and everybody's nice.
B: Right. So yeah, this is traditionally considered to be Malta because in Greek it's referred to as Melita. And so we go, "Oh, this must be Malta," except like geographically it doesn't quite work out. Whatever. It's fine. It doesn't matter. But I did want to mention something about the trip to Malta because something very interesting. We have here in chapter 28 verse 3, we're on Malta after the ship has wrecked. "As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself to his hand. When the local people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, 'This man is probably a murderer, and though he has escaped the sea, justice does not allow him to live.' However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. They expected that he would swell up or suddenly drop dead, but after they waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god."
C: These people are very quick to jump to assumptions.
B: They really are. But do you know what we have just witnessed just now in that passage, what we just saw?
C: I do. We have witnessed the first appearance and origin of snake handling.
B: That is the birth of snake church. We just saw it. Like that, that passage right there is exactly the reason that modern day, super fundy guys, they fully believe that they can handle a snake and even get bitten by a snake and they'll not be harmed because of their extreme faith in Christ, just like your boy Paul. Yeah, this is the, this passage is the birth of Snake Church.
C: So Paul ends up going to see Caesar and then we don't get that here. That's going to be, again, that's in the expanded universe. But he states, he rents a house. He stays two years, and "he proclaims the kingdom of God and the teaching of the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance." And this is after we get a, an update on the book of Isaiah, which we also see in Matthew 13:14, it's drawn from Isaiah 6:10. It comes back here in the final book of Acts, which is book 28, verse 27, where the Holy Spirit correctly spoke for the prophet Isaiah to your ancestors when he said, "Go to these people and say, 'You will listen and listen, yet never understand, and you will look and look, yet never perceive.' For the hearts of these people have grown callous, their ears hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted, and I would heal them." Which is one of those chapters like John 3:16, like the fool has said in his heart there is no God. That is one that often gets brought up in a very weaponized scripture sort of way by people attempting to convert you, which is that, you know, "Oh, well, you know, if you would just open your heart, you'd let him in." Again, as though it's your fault for not hearing it correctly.
B: Yeah, and that's essentially the message from Isaiah, right? In Isaiah, these are the words of God to Isaiah saying, like, "Look, man, I'm assigning you this message of judgment and punishment and the people are not going to like it, so you should be prepared for that. And so that's the parallel here, right? Paul's message as well is one where he's going to have some difficulty spreading it. It's going to be things that people don't want to hear.
C: Yeah, which seems, again, we're getting a pretty good picture of Paul. He's a dude who's super into it, is going to go like, he's very extra, he's going to go zero to a hundred, he's going to get himself into trouble. And then if you don't like it, well then that's, that's your problem. That's your, I'm just asking questions. That's your problem.
C: You need to open your, you need to open your eyes and your ears. Cause I'm just telling you the word that's Paul, which I kind of, I was having a conversation with somebody who was like, yeah, I don't like Paul because like the first thing we see him do is he's telling people how to worship God and telling them they're getting it wrong. He's struck blind. And then when he recovers, he's like back to telling people how to worship God and that they're wrong.
C: He's an extreme dude.
B: As we get more into modern times, I think Paul is experiencing a pretty significant critical re-evaluation, and he's not coming out the better for it, I think.
C: Paul is exactly the dude who would invite you to a pizza party.
C: To a porky party.
B: He'd be throwing the pizza party. The ending seems a little bit strange, right? Because we know that there's more that comes afterwards. So obviously, some would argue the fact that it ends here means that the book must have been written around this time, right? But on the other hand, if you think about, you know, the thesis that I was talking about of the book, the idea of the spread of Christianity from being a splinter sect of Judaism to becoming the religion of the Gentiles, it makes sense to end with Paul in Rome with full boldness and without hindrance, right? because you end up in a slight--
C: I want to talk about the dream. And so like there's a part before this actually that we skipped over a little bit. Is it Paul who has the dream or is it Peter?
B: Ah, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That's Peter, that is Peter.
C: So the reason that Paul is sent to go, basically go to Rome and start preaching to the Romans to the point where like 500 years later, Christianity will be the official state religion of Rome, is that Peter has a dream. And people don't like that Peter is taking this messianic splinter sect of Judaism and bringing it to Gentiles and trying to convert them. Because they're not in the religion, they don't have the context, they don't have the background. And Peter's like, check it, I had this dream though, and it actually was a prophecy. In his dream, he has a vision of all the animals in the world being lured on a white sheet. I imagine them parachuting.
B: Onto the roof of a building, yeah.
C: Yeah, and God shows up and he's like, "Hey, Peter, why don't you snack on these animals?" And Peter's like, "Uh, I mean, thanks, but no thanks. I don't eat anything that is unclean, because, you know, that's scripture." Which is a buck wild thing to say to God, by the way.
B: Yeah, and God does reply, he's like, "Hey, how dare you tell me what's unclean? I'm telling you to go eat that bat or whatever."
B: Go eat a bat or a frog.
C: Check out these pigs and shellfish.
B: These very sweet hippopotamus steaks I have prepared for you.
C: So God says, "What I have made cannot be unclean." Like, I made it, I'm God, like it's okay. And then Peter says that he sees this repeat three times, which I imagine as being like those bits in Dragon Ball Z, where like somebody gets hit and they show it like real quick, real quick, and then slow-mo, like the same action. So this is like the Bible anime.
B: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And so, yeah, of course, I mean, the metaphor here is the idea that the message of Christ is not just for the Jewish people. It's intended for the Greeks as well, the nations. And even though he would have shied away from that because he would have thought of those people as unclean, God is like, "No, man, I made this for everybody. I also made everybody. They're not unclean. You need to spread this message." It is also often used as the justification for why most Christians do not follow dietary laws. They are not kosher, right? Because here God lowered a big sheet full of bats and whales and whatever and told Peter to eat them, so if he's telling Peter to eat a metaphorical bat...
C: Hold the phone, my guy.
C: Are you telling me that Peter, the rock upon whom the church is built...
C: ...was like sitting there going, "What do I need to do? I've got the message, you know, but how do I, how do I bring it to the masses? What do I do? And then he saw a bat and said, yes, father.
B: Yeah. Yeah.
C: Ooh. Ooh. Peter might end up being my favorite. No, it's going to be fast. It's going to be fast. It's going to be porky.
B: Yeah. Porky party. Yeah. Very. Yeah. And so anyway, yeah, that's there. There's your, there's your call to action, right? There's your, that's the turning point in the, in the mission. And, and so, yeah, you know, the message here of the book is like, "Hey, wasn't this a Jewish thing? Why is it all Greeks and Romans now?" And the story shows like, "Uh, well, we offered it to the Jews and they were like, 'No thanks,' and they killed all our dudes. And so we were like, 'What about these Greek boys?' And that's what happened."
So yeah, I mean, like that's the message there. And it also kind of shows that you've got a foundation of anti-Semitism going all the way to the back, all the way back to the beginning.
C: I was really surprised at how often they like kind of like they go like oh yeah the Jews in this book it seemed a little like it's like oh this is where it comes from okay
B: Right, and so this actually ties into a thing I wanted to ask you about getting to the end of this book reading it from front to back as I know you did multiple times who did you--
C: I took a highlighter to it.
B':' Nice, very nice who did you take away as the main dudes of Christianity at the end of this book. If you had to whittle it down, who are the main dudes?
C: Okay, main dudes of Christianity. Obviously, it's Peter and Paul. Those are the guys.
B: Right. Those are the guys, Peter and Paul. They're the two saints, right? If you hear the phrase, two saints somewhere, even what's his name, the producer from Justice League, Joaquin Dos Santos, right? That's his name, Johnny Two Saints, right? Those are the two saints they mean. They mean Peter and Paul. If you go to Rome and you see two saints together, you know who those boys are. You know it's Peter, you know it's Paul. They're the guys. But to quote Laser Swords the movie, there is another.
There is another very significant church leader who is basically minimized in the book of Acts, and that is James. Not James the Great. We do see James the Great. He's the first of the apostles to get martyred. We see him killed back in chapter 12. But this is the one known as James the Just. And who exactly James the Just is is a matter of very hot debate. He could be James the Less, also James the son of Alphaeus that we saw one of the disciples, apostles. But more likely, James the Just is also known as James the brother of God. So potentially James the brother of Jesus himself, right? That is obviously a matter of debate because Catholics believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. They do not believe that Mary had any other children. Protestants, however, most, as far as I'm aware, do not have issue with interpreting the four brothers and multiple sisters of Jesus as being his literal full-blooded, or, you know, whatever, brothers and sisters.
C: Not whole.
B: Yeah, right, half. Yeah. There's a number of ways around this within Catholic tradition. There's not an official doctrine. It could be, it could be that James was Joseph's son from a previous marriage and thus was older than Jesus. It could be some Catholics will teach that the word brothers means cousin. It doesn't matter. That's a debate for when we get to the book of James, right? But the point is, James the Just, we see him, we do see him in the book. He shows up a number of times. He's the head of the Church of Jerusalem, right? He's the head of like the original Christian church and thus he's one of the most influential and important of the early Christians. But his role is mega downplayed in the book of Acts and one of the reasons for that is he and Paul were at theological loggerheads. James is the head of the Church of Jerusalem was a much more traditional Jewish focused guy. The book of James that we see here that's an epistle here in the New Testament that's very it's notorious, I guess, or infamous for the fact that it causes some trouble because it really focuses on the idea of works versus faith, right? So James, as a more traditional Jewish perspective, he's focused on the idea of the law and following the law and that if you love God you'll follow his commandments, right? Whereas Paul is all about, like, well, faith comes first and if you have faith then theoretically your actions will follow, right? So these guys were totally at loggerheads and the fact that James is downplayed kind of makes sense when you realize that this book was potentially written by one of Paul's best friends. So in a lot of ways this book that we've read is pro-Paul propaganda.
C: So this is the origin of Sola Fide doctrine?
B: Yeah, that's a very Pauline kind of idea that you get later with Luther. Yeah, it's a very Paul idea for sure.
C: Which makes so much sense for a guy who is defined by having a moment in which his faith is changed, that he then goes hard in the paint, getting people in on it. Maintains pretty much the same actions. He does not encourage any further stonings that we know of in the Book of Acts, but he certainly is still operating wide open, 100% at all times, no chill.
So yeah, that's the book of acts, everybody. Now there is some additional stuff that I think we're gonna have to get to in other episodes when we dive into the Expanded Universe, AKA the Apocrypha. We're gonna see these two boys come back in the acts of Peter and Paul, which is the Apocryphal book that has the return and one of the deaths of Simon Magus.
C: That's right. Your favorite minor villain is going to make his way back and believe me when I tell you, it's dope.
B: Yeah, it really is. And despite being an apocryphal book, the Acts of Peter and Paul is hugely influential on Christian belief and depictions in art. And we'll learn that as the more we look at apocryphal books, we'll see that even though these things didn't make the cut, it didn't mean that people didn't still believe in them and take a lot of things away from them.
C: Yeah. And so, so keep in mind, that's 300 years of teachings plus another couple hundred years of it to make its way around. And it's not like they just, you know, tossed them all into the fire. Those stories still existed, not to mention all the stories of saints that come after in the, uh, the early days and then, uh, in the middle ages after the collapse of the empire, the, the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, as we all know is maintained for another thousand years.
B: That's correct. Very good.
C: Like I said, look, I like history.
B: Yeah, man.
C: I'm just not great at the Bible. (laughing) Now, if we were smart, we're doing this properly, we would probably drive into the act of Peter and Paul next time, because that is a direct sequel to Acts.
C: Instead, we're not doing that. What we're gonna do in this podcast going forward is we're probably gonna alternate between New Testament books and Old Testament books, at least until we run out of New Testament books. We'll probably mix the Apocrypha in there somewhere. So next time you hear us talking about the New Testament, Maybe it'll be Romans, maybe it'll be acts of Peter and Paul. And we'll get into that stuff. But, uh, next time we are together for another service, we will be getting into a book that I picked. Uh, Benito, you picked this one, the, our second book was my pick, and we will be reading Daniel, which I picked because it has a story I know.
B: Right. And little did you know what you were really picking.
C: Yeah, it's, it's pretty good. So if you would like to read along with us once again, it's the Bible. It's available pretty much everywhere. You can check it out on Bible Gateway. If you're interested in a specific translation, again, we are using the Holman Christian Standard Bible, but if you want to read along in the New International Version, King James, those are much more easy to find, but it's all online at Bible Gateway and other websites. But before we get out of here, do you have a favorite verse from a favorite excerpt from this scripture?
B: Oh, for sure. My particular favorite story and bit from the Book of Acts comes in chapter 19 verse 13 where we see a host of itinerant professional exorcists going around who are casting out demons in the name of Jesus. They don't know who Jesus is but they're basically using his name like a magic word. And they're the Seven Sons of Sceva "and when they cast out the demon the evil spirit answered them, 'I know Jesus and I recognize Paul, but who are you?' Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded."
C: That definitely seems like Paul throwing in, "By the way, they also knew me."
B: Yeah, yeah.
C: By the way, I am like, again, I am the Captain America of this situation.
C: Not a founder, but the most important of the early days, obviously.
My reading is gonna come from the section on Simon Magus. It's chapter 8, verses 21 through 23. And I should say that I said this, if you remember a couple weeks ago, which is forever in internet time, there was that Brooklyn BBQ is taking over the world article. And as a southerner, that was anathema to me. So when my wife showed it to me, I said to her, or I said to the creators of Brooklyn BBQ, "You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God. Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that the intent of your heart may be forgiven you, for I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
C: And I think it says a lot that your favorite verse in Acts was about itinerant professional exorcists and mine is someone yelling at another one for being bound by iniquity.
C: All right, that's it for the first episode of Apocryphalos everybody. Join us next time for the Book of Daniel. We'll see you then. Until then, I have been Chris Sims with Benito Cereno. Benito, peace be with you.
B: And also with you.