The Book Of Acts!
Today we cross a bridge; the name of that bridge is the Book of Acts. The dictionary definition of a bridge is: “A structure carrying a road or a path across an obstacle such as a river or a ravine.” The obstacle we are crossing over is the ravine (a gulf really) that has historically separated the Old and New Testaments. The needed structure that spans that gulf is the Book of Acts.
A reasonable question would be:
“How can Acts be the bridge between the Old Testament and the New when the first book of the New Testament is the Gospel of Matthew, followed by three more Gospels”?
And the answer is that the purpose of the Gospels is to reveal the nature, life and times of Yeshua the Messiah. But the Book of Acts delves into how the followers of a Jewish Messiah, whose messianic office is derived only from a Jewish/Israelite religion and a Jewish/Israelite holy book, somehow came to purposely include the gentile world.
A valued friend of Tom Bradford who lives in Jerusalem, Messianic Rabbi Joseph Shulam, says this about the New Testament in general:
“The New Testament is a Jewish document from the 1st century A.D., reflective of the lifestyle and theology of the Jewish community of the Second Temple period. Produced mainly by Jews interested in promoting a Jewish understanding of the messianic promises made by Israel’s prophets, the New Testament texts constitute an inalienable part of Second Temple Judaism and can only properly be understood in their original Jewish cultural and religious milieu.”
There is no better NT book to help us understand 1st century, Second Temple Judaism than the Book of Acts. Yet the Book of Acts is still not sufficient in itself to help modern Western Christians truly understand the Jewish culture and religion of Yeshua’s day, and so Tom Bradford will take us on a number of detours and spend the time necessary to construct the needed context.
Tom Bradford claims that if you have not studied the Torah and the Tanach with the Seed of Abraham Torah Class, you will be at a disadvantage. The Old Testament will play a significant background role in our study of the Book of Acts. And this is because (as Tom Bradford has stated on numerous occasions) the Old Testament is the foundation for the New.
Trying to study the New Testament without first knowing the Old Testament is like walking into the third act of a three-act play after missing the first two acts. You may well get something out of it; but you will have missed the character development and the context for the plot. How the play got from here to there you don’t know, so you fill in the blanks with your imagination and suppositions. In fact, when the play ends and the curtain drops, your conclusions about the play’s meaning and purpose will be at best incomplete; at worst, it might be far off the mark.
The reason that Tom Bradford has decided to teach the New Testament Book of Acts is because Christianity, and in many cases Messianic Judaism, has indeed arrived to the play late and missed, or dismisses, the first two acts as not relevant to a modern Believer. The result has been some doctrinal conclusions that are substantially off the mark. Even worse, these dubious doctrines have fomented misunderstanding, if not hatred, between Jews and Christians, and also the alienation of Jews from their own Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
In my next blog post we are going to talk about the author of the Book of Acts.