The Roman Empire ruled most of the Western
world during the earthly life of Jesus, as well as during the early
life of the movements, communities, congregations and institutions that
sprang up in his name. Like all empires, Rome developed mechanisms for
maintaining multifaceted inequality within its societies. Consequently,
a majority of the people of the empire lived in deep poverty.
Those who gathered at the place that had come to be known as the House of the Holy Spirit were a microcosm of the empire. They came from many geographic places and all walks of life. But most lived in systemic poverty, at subsistence level or below, with little to no chance of escaping their economic situation. Acts 2:44 tells us that all the believers were together and had everything in common.
The most important thing they all had in common, however, was a belief in—or at least a curiosity about—a man named Jesus.
Most hadn’t heard about Jesus before they arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Many got caught up in the events surrounding his crucifixion but didn’t quite know what to make of it. Most would have forgotten Jesus by the time they returned to their homelands after the Pentecost celebration, 50 days after Passover.
But when the day of Pentecost came, some of the people whose lives had been changed by Jesus decided to go public. They went into the streets and began to tell the incredible story of Jesus of Nazareth—of his life, his death, his resurrection.
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers