Chapter 8: The Birth of the Church UNDERSTANDING THE SCRIPTURES
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) ANTICIPATORY SET Read silently the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which narrates the Ascension of Christ and the election of St. Matthias.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) BASIC QUESTIONS What final preparation did Christ give his disciples before his Ascension? What was the effect of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles? How did St. Peter exercise his office in the Church? Why was St. Stephen martyred? KEY IDEAS Christ taught his disciples about the Kingdom of God during the forty days after his Resurrection. On Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit; St. Peter preached to pilgrims in Jerusalem, converting some 3000 to Christ. St. Peter showed his primacy by calling for a replacement for Judas, preaching at Pentecost, and representing the Church. The deacon St. Stephen delivered a courageous summary of Jewish history before the Sanhedrin and, accused of blasphemy, became the first martyr; the Pharisee Saul led a persecution of early Christians across Israel.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) FOCUS QUESTIONS For what ministry did the Apostles spend forty days preparing? Their mission was to restore the Kingdom of David. Why did the Apostles remain in Jerusalem? Jerusalem was David’s capital city and the place the prophets promised would be the capital of the new Davidic kingdom. What was Christ’s answer to the Apostles when asked when he would restore the kingdom to Israel? Christ said it was not for them to know, but they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit and take Christ’s message to the whole world, beginning in Jerusalem.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) What does it mean to sit at the right hand of God? The right hand side of a king is a place of honor. It is the place promised to the Anointed One (cf. Ps 110). What is the order of the restoration of David’s kingdom? First it would be restored in Israel, then Samaria, and then the rest of the world.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) GRAPHIC ORGANIZER Complete the following table according to the map “Judaism at the Time of Christ” (p. 261).
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) GUIDED EXERCISE Complete a focused reading of the paragraph “In Greek, the word...” (p. 262) using the following question: In the Church, what is the connection between the words office and bishop?
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) FOCUS QUESTIONS What was the criterion for choosing the successor of Judas? Judas’s replacement had to be someone who had been with Christ from his Baptism until the Ascension so he could have been an eyewitness to the Resurrection. What does Pentecost mean, and what did this Jewish festival celebrate? Pentecost comes from the Greek for fifty. Fifty days after Passover, the Jews celebrated the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. What two similes did St. Luke use to describe the descent of the Holy Spirit? There was a sound like the rush of a mighty wind and an appearance of tongues as of fire.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) How did Jews from the various nations react to the Apostles’ speaking in various languages? Some were amazed; others said they were drunk. What did St. Peter inherit from Christ? He inherited Christ’s teaching authority. What powers did St. Peter and the Apostles also inherit? They inherited the powers to heal and to forgive sins. Who represented the Apostles before the Sanhedrin? St. Peter spoke for the Church.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) GUIDED EXERCISE Complete a focused reading of the two paragraphs “When the people ask...” and “Already, less than two...” (p. 264) using the following question: How did the apostolic Church conduct herself?
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) FOCUS QUESTIONS Who was St. Stephen? St. Stephen was a Greek and a convert to Christianity, one of the seven deacons appointed to do charitable works in the Church, and the first martyr of the Church. Why was St. Stephen accused of blasphemy? St. Stephen told of his vision of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. Extension: This was blasphemous to Jews because St. Stephen was saying Jesus, whom the Sanhedrin had condemned to death, was God’s Messiah, or Christ. What was the effect of Saul’s persecution? It helped the Church to spread all over Judea and Samaria and as far as Damascus.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to summarize the Catechism, no. 553 (p. 314). Identify two examples of St. Peter exercising his ministry during this time.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) FOCUS QUESTIONS How did the earliest Christians view themselves with respect to Judaism? They considered themselves Jews who had been entrusted with a special mission to spread the Good News of the Messiah. How did the earliest Christians worship? They worshiped at the synagogue every Sabbath and then celebrated the Eucharist privately in their homes on the Lord’s Day. What does it mean to say the synagogue and Temple are united in the Mass? The first part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, is similar in structure and content to synagogue worship; the second part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, is derived from the Temple Liturgy of the thank‑offering and the Passover.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 1–16 (p. 309) Practical Exercises 1–3 (p. 311) Workbook Questions 1–25 Read “Philip Baptizes the Ethiopian” through “The Council of Jerusalem” (pp. 267–273)
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) CLOSURE Write a paragraph summarizing Christ’s formation of the Apostles from the time of their calling until the descent of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Early Church (pp. 260–267) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Use a missal and the Catechism, no. 1345, to write a well‑organized paragraph comparing the present‑day Mass to the Liturgy described by St. Justin Martyr.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) ANTICIPATORY SET Think/Pair/Share using the Catechism, no. 3 (p. 313), and the following question: Why do you possess the Faith today, and how can you best hand it on?
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) BASIC QUESTIONS What was the significance of the Baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch? What is St. Paul’s conversion story? How did God show St. Peter the Gentile Cornelius and his household should be baptized? Why was the Council of Jerusalem convened, and what did it decide? KEY IDEAS Led by the Holy Spirit, St. Philip showed the Ethiopian eunuch Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and, when the man asked for Baptism, the Apostle complied. The Ethiopian, who was barred from becoming a Jew, was the first Gentile baptized into the Church. Saul was dramatically converted to the Faith and became an Apostle. St. Peter’s vision and the giving of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius’s household convinced him Gentiles do not have to become Jews. Because some Jewish Christians insisted Gentile converts had to follow the Law, the Council of Jerusalem settled the question; St. Peter’s decision was endorsed by the Apostles and promulgated by St. James.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) GUIDED EXERCISE Discuss the following question: How were both St. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch wise men?
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) FOCUS QUESTIONS Why could the Ethiopian eunuch not have become a Jew? According to the Book of Deuteronomy, a eunuch could never be part of the Jewish community (cf. 23:1). What was the most effective argument the early Christians used to gain converts? They showed how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Scriptures. What was the significance of the Baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch? The Ethiopian eunuch was the first Gentile to be baptized a Christian. He was—from the Roman point of view—from the farthest part of the known world, so his Baptism was a sign the Gospel was for the entire world.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) GUIDED EXERCISE Complete a paragraph shrink on the Catechism, no. 781.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) FOCUS QUESTIONS Where was Saul educated? He received an excellent training in Greek literature and philosophy in Tarsus and mastered the Scriptures under the most famous of the Pharisees, Gamaliel. What was Saul’s means of support during his adult life? He was a tent maker. Why was Saul dreaded by the Christians of Jerusalem? Saul led squads of Temple guards during the first widespread persecution of Christians in Jerusalem.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to identify those qualities St. Paul possessed that gave him the potential to become a great Apostle.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) FOCUS QUESTIONS What did Christ mean when he said to Saul, “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4)? Saul was persecuting the Church, the Body of Christ. Therefore, he was persecuting Christ. Why did St. Ananias argue with Christ? He was afraid to go to Saul because he was a dangerous man. Why did St. Paul receive death threats? After his conversion, his zeal for Christ made him the enemy of his former allies.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to analyze in writing the points St. Peter makes in the Acts of the Apostles 15:7–11.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) FOCUS QUESTIONS What did the Jewish Christians who came to Antioch claim? They told the Gentile converts they could not be saved unless they were circumcised and followed the Law of Moses. How did St. Paul correct St. Peter? When some Jewish Christians appeared, St. Peter withdrew from eating with the Gentile Christians. St. Paul confronted St. Peter publicly and said, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:14).
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) FOCUS QUESTIONS Why did things look bad for St. Paul in the debate about whether Gentiles had to follow the Old Law to be saved? St. James the Just was the Head of the Church of Jerusalem and a zealous follower of the Law. Why is it remarkable St. James the Just supported St. Peter? Someone who loved and followed the Law so perfectly was not expected to be detached enough not to impose it on others.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) Who was St. Cornelius? He was a Roman commander and a proselyte of the Gate. What did the voice in the kill and eat vision mean when it said, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean” (Acts 10:15)? First, all foods are clean, that is, may be eaten despite dietary regulations of the Law. Second, if a man has been cleaned in Baptism, he is acceptable. How did St. Peter know St. Cornelius and his household should be baptized? They received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this convinced him they had the right to be baptized, too. Extension: St. Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) What was the importance of Antioch in the early Church? It was the greatest center of Christianity outside Jerusalem and where St. Peter was first bishop. What was the first name used by the followers of Christ, and what name did they receive in Antioch? Christ’s followers called their practice The Way. In Antioch they were called Christians.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 17–33 (p. 309) Practical Exercises 5, 10 (p. 311–312) Workbook Questions 26–46 Read “Apostle to the Gentiles” through “St. Paul’s Travels” (pp. 274–279)
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) CLOSURE Free write for five minutes about the remarkable conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.
2. Saul’s Conversion (pp. 267–273) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Work with a partner, using the following question, to understand the Catechism, no. 856 (p. 316): Why should Christians try to convert non‑Christians to the Faith?
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) ANTICIPATORY SET Lead a class discussion about what the students read as homework (Acts 21:27—22:29), using the following question: How does St. Paul’s experience parallel the martyrdom of St. Stephen?
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) BASIC QUESTIONS Why is St. Paul called the Apostle to the Gentiles? What is the relationship among the Law, Israel, and the Father? What is the relationship between justification and divine sonship? After his conversion, to what did St. Paul devote his life? KEY IDEAS St. Paul was uniquely qualified to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, was called to be this by Our Lord, and carried out his mission intensely, adapting his message to his specific audiences. St. Paul used the idea of a pedagogue, the son over which he has charge, and the son’s father as an analogy to explain the relationship among the Law, Israel, and God the Father; a pedagogue in charge of a youth had complete authority over him until adulthood, after which the son was subject only to his father; similarly, the Law was the custodian of Israel until Christ freed Israel, making Israel subject only to the Father. The essence of justification is human beings are made children of God. This includes a participation in the divine life and the inheritance of eternal life. St. Paul devoted his entire life to spreading the Gospel, making at least three missionary journeys and a journey from Jerusalem to Rome, where he was eventually beheaded by Nero.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) FOCUS QUESTIONS What were St. Paul’s qualifications to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles? He had a classical education, so he could speak to Greeks and Romans on their own terms. His classical training included logic, which was useful in his theological writings. He knew the Scriptures well and could refute any argument the Jewish authorities might bring against him. Finally, his Roman citizenship protected him to a great degree from anti‑Christian conspirators.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) Why was it natural the Gospel be first preached to Jews and then to Gentiles? Because the New Covenant was the fulfillment of the Old, it was natural Jews be the first audience. At the same time, the Gospel was meant for everyone, and, because so many Jews rejected the message, St. Paul turned to the Gentiles. Why did St. Paul have St. Timothy circumcised? St. Timothy had a Greek Gentile father, and St. Paul wanted to avoid scandalizing the Jews. Despite his freedom, what was St. Paul willing to do time after time? He willingly sacrificed his freedom to help preach the truth of the Gospel.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) What was the pedagogue of Israel according to St. Paul? The Mosaic Law was her pedagogue. What made Israel grow up? Israel grew up when Christ came. Extension: The New Testament refers to Christ’s coming in the fullness of time. When Israel grew up, to whom alone was she to be subject? She was to be subject to God the Father alone, no longer to the Law.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) Was the Law good or evil according to St. Paul? The Law was eminently good. What is the relationship between sin and the Law according to St. Paul? The Law, in a sense, creates sin because it teaches right from wrong. Extension: The moral law does not create sin in a strict sense; rather, it commands people to do good and avoid evil. It reveals and clarifies which deeds are sinful. What did St. Paul mean when he said a person is justified? He means that person is made right with God, clean from sin, and worthy to receive God’s promises.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) What is the relationship between the Law of sin and death and the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? The Law of sin and death refers to failed human attempts to obey the Mosaic Law; this Old Law condemns its practitioners to know their sins and fall under the punishment of death. The Law of the Spirit of Life refers to Christ—by his Passion, Death, and Resurrection—having fulfilled the punishment required by the Old Law so all people united to him can live the divine life of the Blessed Trinity in the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to say Jesus Christ is a sin offering? Under the Old Covenant, one who had broken the Law made a sin offering. Christ’s Death on the Cross is the sin offering of all those united to him. What does it mean to say the essence of justification is divine sonship? The central good received through justification, when people are made right with God through the Redemption of Christ, is to become an adopted son or daughter of God.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) GUIDED EXERCISE Read silently the paragraph “Paul explains that the Law...” (p. 275) and then write a one‑sentence definition of a Roman‑era custodian (pedagogue).
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) GUIDED EXERCISE Think/Pair/Share using the following question: Though one is not saved through obedience to the Law, why is everybody still supposed to obey the Ten Commandments and do good works?
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) FOCUS QUESTIONS How did St. Paul explain the doctrine of justification? St. Paul taught only God himself can justify anyone. He justifies people as a loving gift to them. Nobody can justify him‑ or herself through observance of the Law or by his or her good works apart from grace. What is the parallel between Adam and Christ with respect to justification? Adam’s sin dis‑graced all people, that is, removed grace from himself and all his descendants. Christ’s atonement restored them in God’s grace, making people once again children of God, as was his original intent in creation. What is the relationship among the Law, sin, and grace? The Law made sin abound. Where sin abounded, God made grace grow even more, even to the point of giving his people eternal life.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) Why can a person not earn the right to be part of God’s family? One can never deserve a place in God’s family. It can only come about as a gift. Why can simple obedience to the Law not make a person holy? The Law, like a custodian, can show what ought to be done, but it cannot give the strength to act according to it. How did St. James correct a possible misunderstanding of the doctrine of justification? He showed good works are necessary.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) How was St. Paul’s imprisonment in Rome? He was under house arrest for two years, allowed to have visits from his friends, and could send letters freely. When did St. Paul die? He died a martyr during Nero’s persecution about AD 64, and tradition holds he died the same day as St. Peter. Why was St. Paul not crucified? St. Paul was a Roman citizen from Tarsus, and Roman citizens were spared crucifixion. Instead, he was beheaded.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) What did St. Paul do in his missionary journeys? He preached the Gospel, founded new churches, and gave encouragement to the members of churches that had been founded by other Apostles. How difficult were St. Paul’s travels? They were very difficult; he suffered much, including hunger, imprisonment, shipwreck, and stoning. Why did St. Paul go to Rome? He was sent to Rome as a prisoner in keeping with one of his legal rights as a Roman citizen.
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) GRAPHIC ORGANIZER Complete the following table according to the map “Paul’s First Journey” (p. 279).
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) GRAPHIC ORGANIZER Create a Graphic Organizer, similar to the one completed on page 279, of St. Paul’s second or third journey or his journey to Rome according to the corresponding map (pp. 280–281).
3. St. Paul (pp. 274–281) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 34–44 (p. 309– 310) Practical Exercises 6–9 (p. 311– 312) Workbook Questions 47–62 Read “The New Kingdom” through “Councils of the Whole Church” (pp. 282–288)