Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Acts 9:31

This evening I studied part of Acts 9 with a group of friends. Verse 31 was very interesting to me. After Paul was taken to Tarsus, Luke writes "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being build up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."

A couple of things grabbed my attention:

1. The verb for increase in an imperfect passive. So the increase was brought about not by the church, but by God. (see Mt. 16:18)

2. The church experienced growth during a time of peace. This made me think of the current peace that many Christians experience, especially in the U.S. However, we are not seeing the kind of increase that the book of Acts speaks of here. The difference, I think, is that these believers were "going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." Even though they enjoyed peace, they continued to trust and rely on God instead of themselves.

This seems to fly in the face of many church growth and church planting strategies out there. I we sometimes try to produce what only God can bring about?


Alan Knox said...


You ask, "do we sometimes try to produce what only God can bring about?" From some of the church planting and church growth books that I've read, it seems that we are trying to produce something that God has already brought about. In other words, God does a work somewhere, so we copy it.


Alan Knox said...


My quick translation (using the NA27 text, i.e. singular "church"):

Therefore, the church through all Judea and Galilee and Samaria was having peace while being built up, and was being multiplied while going ("continuing"?) in the fear of God and the exhortation of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:31)

This is an interesting verse. You are correct that "being built up" and "was being multiplied" are passive... i.e. God is doing this for the church. What is also interesting is that "having peace" and "was being multiplied" are imperfect. So, we have to decide if these should be translated "continuous past" (as I have done here) or possibly inceptive imperfects (i.e. "began to have peace" and "began to be multiplied"). I'm not sure the inceptive sense works in the context of Acts though.

Thanks for bringing this verse to our attention. I hope you get plenty of discussion concerning this.

- Alan

Theron said...


I did not look at the textual variation at this verse yet. When I get my hands on a Greek Bible I will take a look at it and see how I think it falls out.

Thanks for the comment.