Intensive with N. T. Wright Recap
Last week, I had an incredible opportunity to learn in person from one of my heroes in biblical studies, N. T. Wright. I have been reading him, listening to his podcast, and watching his video devotionals for 10 years. When I learned he would be in the United States for an intensive of the book of Acts, my wife insisted and ensured I took the opportunity to go and see him. I am very grateful for her insistence because it was an incredible experience!
The event was put on by Truett Theological Seminary and N. T. Wright Online. We were hosted by South Main Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. They were gracious host who shared with us their beautiful sanctuary and wonderful city. (I have to say, Houston food is distinctly underrated). Over the course of 4-days, N. T. Wright walked us through the entire book of Acts in 9 lectures and 5 Q&A sessions. Most of the lectures covered four chapters at a time while ch. 1 and 17 each got their own lecture. Going at the book with such speed highlighted the narrative flow of the book. I found layers to Acts I didn't realize were there before, not only in literary beauty, but also theologically.
The main takeaway, for me, was the theological message of Acts. Acts 1 begins the story with the ascension of Jesus, which presents Jesus returning to the right hand of the Father to reign over all. In the body of Jesus, heaven and earth are now united. That union continues through the Holy Spirit indwelling the Church. Throughout the rest of the book, the early Christians get into trouble from all directions as they announce to the old world that Christ is King, not the old powers. The book of Acts shows the earliest Christians wrestling with the reality that Jesus fulfilled Torah and the Temple in ways they had not anticipated. Faithfulness to Israel's God now means seeing the way He kept His promises in Jesus. They also wrestle with the reality that, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, Gentiles who formerly worshiped false gods are now purified and part of God's family. I have heard Prof. Wright unpack these themes in other parts of the New Testament, but had never seen before how clearly these themes arise from the book of Acts. I am grateful all they recorded all of these lectures so I can work through them and the text of Acts slowly to deeply grasp this key message to the book of Acts.
Thank you, Prof. Wright, for allowing me to glean from your many years immersed in the Scriptures. Every time I learn from you, I find I understand Scripture more deeply and see Jesus more clearly. I hope to keep learning from your own studies and hope to have another opportunity to learn from you in person. It was a pleasure meeting you, albeit briefly, and I hope our paths cross again.