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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

4. JOHN - a supporting apostle

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon" (Acts 3:1).

John's name is quite often linked with Peter's in the Acts. They obviously had a joint ministry. This kind of relationship only works with grace and understanding.

Consider the person
John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, was one of Jesus' twelve apostles (Mk.1:16-20). With Peter and James he was close to the Lord and witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter, the Lord's transfiguration and his prayer in Gethsemane (Mk.5:37; 9:2; 14:33). Traditionally he is identified with the author of the Fourth Gospel – 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' (Jn.13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:20). John is a marvellous example of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. John and his brother had a reputation as 'Sons of Thunder' (Mk.3:17; Lk.9:51-56) - but the man with a temper became 'the apostle of love' (Jn.20:2; 1 Jn.3:11). Jesus also dealt with his selfish ambitions to leadership (Mk.10:35-45).

Study the Scriptures
Focus your study on John's relationship with Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. They are seen praying together (Acts 1:13), ministering the gospel together (3:1-26), witnessing and suffering together (4:1-23), and ministering the Spirit together (8:14-25). Galatians informs us that they served in the Jerusalem church as elders (Gal.2:9). Further thoughts may be suggested by these passages.

Ask questions

1. It is interesting to see John ministering to Samaritans - after he had strongly condemned them (Lk.9:51-56; Acts 8:14-17). Paul's teaching on the new person in Christ is dynamic (2 Cor.5:17). Do we believe in a life-transforming, attitude-changing, gospel?

2. John's ambition for position (Mk.10:35-37) was challenged, changed, then channelled by the Lord as he become a pillar in the church (Gal.2:9). Did this involve learning to be subservient to Peter? And what of James? See Acts 15:13.

3. What do the following descriptions teach about joint ministry? Fellow-worker (Rom.16:9,13,21), fellow-citizen (Eph.2:19), fellow-soldier (Phil.2:25), fellow-servant (Col.1:7), fellow-prisoner (Col.4:10), and fellow-elder (1 Pet.5:1).

Apply some thoughts

1. John emphasises the practical nature of God's love (e.g., Jn.3:16). Discuss how this love should be seen in believer's lives . See John's First Epistle.

2. Is it helpful to recognise and acknowledge our different gifts and temperaments in our local church? How can this help us to work together? 1 Cor.3:9 will be meaningful here.

3. Discuss the meaningfulness of prayer partners.

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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