Chapter 8 – A Promise
Questions to Think About and Discuss
1. Why do you think Nathan says, “I’ve never seen a cloud as bright as that one”?
(After talking about your ideas, read the author’s notes below about the cloud.)
2. Were you surprised to read about the coming of the Holy Spirit taking place in the temple courtyard? Why? From the story, can you think of any reasons why this makes sense? (After talking about it, read the Author’s Notes below to see why it was set in the temple in this book.)
1. The Feast of Weeks is also called Pentecost or Shavu’ot. Find out what faithful Jewish worshippers did at the temple for this feast day. It was one of the feast days when faithful Israelites traveled to the temple. Be sure to find out where the term “Pentecost” comes from. (There is a clue in this chapter!)
2. Read page 72 in the Rose Guide to the Temple (referenced in activities for Ch. 3 & 5.)
Answer these questions:
1. About how much did one of the huge stone that were cut to build the temple weigh? (Do the math.)
2. Why didn’t the builders need to use cement of plaster to hold the building blocks together?
3. How did the stone cutters cut such huge stones?
4. How did the builders move the huge stones into place? What kind of power was involved because they had no electricity, natural gas or gasoline?
Nathan’s family and Ben’s family were estranged from each other when Nathan’s family accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah. Imagine the conversations of the family as they walk home from the temple together after Ben's family has believed and been baptized. Write a conversation for Nathan and Ben, Rachel and Abigail, Eli and Simon, or Sarah and Ben’s mother. (Ben’s mother is not named in the book, but you know from the book that she is Eli’s sister. You should give her a name for the dialogue you write.) You might get a friend and dramatize the conversation for your class.
Draw a picture of the mass baptism in the ceremonial baths outside the temple. To help you visualize what they looked like, Google: “ceremonial baths at the Jerusalem temple” for photos of ritual baths that archaeologists have discovered there.
1. There is a reason why the brightness of the cloud is emphasized when Nathan comments that he never saw such a bright cloud. F.F. Bruce in his commentary on Acts compares it to the brightness that the disciples saw when Jesus was transfigured (see Matt. 17:1-8). The same Greek word is used in each case. The brightness indicates the presence of God. At Jesus’ ascension, he was enveloped in a cloud of God’s presence.
2. F. F. Bruce in his commentary on Acts (and other scholars concur) that the word “house” in Acts can (in the original Greek) be interpreted as the temple (God’s house). Here are some other reasons I chose to portray Pentecost at the temple instead of in an upper room as some pictures show it.
a. Those who had believed in Jesus as the Messiah met daily in the temple to praise God.
b. These new believers continued to practice their religious customs and celebrate their festivals. For the Feast of Weeks, they would be going to the temple.
c. The temple courtyard is huge—one reference says that it was the equivalent of 16 football fields. It seems easier to imagine thousands gathered to hear Peter’s sermon when it is set in the temple courtyard. (And I do realize that the illustration does not show the vast numbers of people listening to Peter. The artist did not want to draw thousands of people, which I can understand, so you will have to use your imagination.)
d. 3,000 believed and were baptized after Peter’s sermon. Archaeologists have uncovered dozens of pools outside the south entrance of the Jerusalem temple. This would answer the question of how so many were baptized!