First Century C.E./A.D. Messianic Jewish Believers in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) turned the world upside down. This is so potently portrayed in author Luke's 18,374 words that the book has come to be kwn as The Acts of the Apostles (Emissaries). Luke was a physician, a careful historian, and showed a deep kwledge about Jewish laws and customs in the land of Israel and the Temple. His recording of the Spirit-filled birth and explosive growth of Messianic Judaism is divided in half: chapters 1-12 focus on Kefa (Peter) in Jewish regions, while chapters 13-28 concern themselves with Sha'ul (Paul) in largely Gentile regions. The kwn world of the First Century was t turned upside down because Yeshua-followers all believed the same thing. The inclusion of Gentiles in the plan of God and how both Jewish and Gentile Believers were to work out questions of their identity and relationship to one ather in a pagan world - with opposing claims from both Jewish and Roman leadership - sparked much debate, conflict, and controversy about faith and practice. Even amidst imprisonments, rioting and personality conflicts, Dr. Luke details the influence of Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit) in all of this. In short, the faith of these early Yeshua-followers was demonstrated daily in tangible, practical ways. They fed the hungry, healed the sick, clothed the naked, invited strangers into their homes, visited prisoners, etc... Truly, when the world around them looked closely at those who said they believed the claims to deity and of messiahship from an obscure Jewish teacher from a backwater of the empire, their lives were different. The declaration of their faith wasn't solely with words but with actions. The Good News was something which could be seen, felt and experienced ... and the world had never seen anything like it. So radically different were those who followed this Yeshua, this Messiah ( Christ, ) that they were called the Christ-like Ones, or Christians. In the First Century, this word was understood in a biblical/Jewish context. Thus, for a Jew or Gentile to be called a Christian was connecting oneself very specifically to an active Jewish faith which recognized Yeshua as the promised/prophesied Messiah and Savior/Redeemer for Israel and the nations. Unfortunately, by the Third Century, the word Christian had completely lost its original Jewish understanding or context. Even today, the word Christian, though an endearing title to many, carries a hugely negative contation for those of Hebrew descent and longer effectively defines Jewish followers of Yeshua, who much prefer to be regarded as Messianic Jews. For over 40 years, Believers of Jewish descent in the Messiah have been congregating in hundreds of communities worldwide in response to the call of Ruach Hakodesh, believing it's time to set the record straight concerning the Jewish Messiah. This book consists of a collection of my Shabbat (Sabbath) sermons based on the Book of Acts prepared and delivered to my faith community, Tree of Life, a Messianic Jewish congregation in San Diego, California several years ago. I do t consider this work by any means to be a complete exegetical commentary or a comprehensive academic analysis. Instead, this is a compilation of practical messages whose intended audience is Messianic Believers (Jewish or otherwise), and anyone curious about a Messianic Jewish perspective on Acts.
Joel Liberman is the Messianic Rabbi of Tree of Life, a Messianic Jewish congregation in San Diego, CA. He has earned degrees from San Diego State University (B.S., Accounting), and Luther Rice University (M.Div.). Joel holds both a California CPA(inactive) and real estate broker's license, having worked in both fields for over twenty years. Rabbi Liberman is ordained through the synagogual arm of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS), and has served on the Executive Committees of the MJAA and IAMCS continually since 2001. He and his wife Darcie reside in San Diego with their two teenage children.