St. Edmund's Church,
Introducing the Book -
Peter and Friends:
their Story and their Writings
"I used to be indecisive but now I'm not sure". In what ways have you changed through the course of your life? Has being a Christian made any difference? Have there been any changes while you've been a Christian.
Acts 1 - 8, 10 - 12
Peter - fisherman turned apostle
James - there are no less than five different people in the New Testament who were called James. Can you list them? The letter of James in the NT is traditionally associated with James the brother of Jesus (se Mark 6:3).
Jude - a brother of Jesus and James.
The Writer to the Hebrews - the identity of this person is unknown but he (?) was writing to Jews who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah and so he had the necessary grounding in the Old Testament scriptures and in Jewish thought.
While Peter is traditionally believed to have been the first Bishop of Rome, all the New Testament stories about him take place in the Holy Land.
- The central character in the early part of Acts is the apostle Peter the following readings trace the ups and downs of his career.
- Mathew 4:18-20
- What do you think Jesus meant by "fishers of men"?
- Does this still represent part of the church's work?
- Mathew 16:13 - 28
- Why is this both a highlight and a trough in Peter's story?
- What was so important about the declaration Peter made?
- Why was what Jesus said about the cross so upsetting to Peter?
- Is what he said about us taking up the cross upsetting to you?
- Mathew 26:57, 58 and 69 - 75
- Peter was risking his life by being in the courtyard, why do you think he then failed to confess his allegiance to Jesus
- Do you think you would have done any better? Do you do any better?
- Acts 2:1 - 14
- What made such a difference to Peter that he was now prepared to stand up as spokesman for the followers of Jesus.
- No-one knows who wrote the letter to the Hebrews but it has much to teach us both about Jesus and how to follow him.
Read Hebrews 12:1 - 17.
- What does it mean that Jesus is the "author and perfecter" of our faith?
- Does the description of the beneficial effects of discipline ring true in your experience?
- What other practical guidance is provided for individual Christians and the Church in these verses?
- Through a large part of the history of the church there were many who were critical of James' letter because it seemed to them to emphasise works at the expense of faith. James 2: 14 - 24 is the key passage.
- Is verse 17 a contradiction of, for example, Ephesians 2: 8 & 9?
- Does the example of Abraham help to clarify the relationship between faith and works?
- How can we keep the balance btween faith and works in our own lives and the life of our church?
- Much of the experience of Peter is distilled into the two letters that bear his name.
Read 1 Peter 2:1 - 17.
- Think about verses 4-8 in the light of Matthew 16:18 that you read earlier. Is the use of the image of a rock a coincidence? What light do the two passages shed on one another?
- Verses 9 & 10 describe our new status in Christ Jesus. Is this how we think of ourselves as Christians? If not, why not?
- Verses 11 to 17 describe some of the principles of behaviour that stem from our new status. What are they? How can we put them into practice today?
- The very short letter written by Jude has more than its share of difficult verses, but it has the most beautiful of all endings. Read verse 24 & 25 aloud together to conclude the study.
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
[Joel 2:28 & 29]
Thank God for the gift of his Holy Spirit. Thank him for the difference his Spirit made to Peter. Be open to the fact that the Holy Spirit wants to make a major difference in our lives.