Scot McKnight and the earliest Christian gospel (6): gospelling in Acts

Friday and Saturday 11-12 June we had a fantastic 2010 IBI Summer Institute with Scot McKnight. Two full days, 8 sessions, a full house. Scot worked hard and was brilliant.

I’m doing a few posts on what Scot had to say. And I should say that these are just based on my notes.

Much of the content of the lectures will be the material for a new book The Earliest Christian Gospel – so we were treated to a special preview.

The last post was on ‘Jesus: Who did he think he was?’. Scot then moved on to the 7 examples in Acts of the gospel preaching of Peter and Paul.  For example take Peter:


Peter’s gospelling is of the story of Israel coming to completion in the story of Jesus. That in the death and resurrection of Jesus is forgiveness. See Acts 10:43″All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

This sermon in Acts 10-11 is important, it

– Tells the whole story of Jesus – birth, death, resurrection, exaltation

– Who is made both Lord and Messiah

Peter’s gospel is all about Jesus.  It’s a story that calls for a response  (Acts 2:38)

  • Believe in Jesus – all that God is doing in Jesus
  • Repent (from sins committed and turn to live a new way)
  • Be baptised

Peter makes promises to new believers

  1. Forgiveness of sins
  2. Receive the Holy Spirit
  3. Times of refreshing will come – the ongoing realisation of God’s redemptive work in this world
  4. Peace is a result: spiritual peace maybe, but peace between Jews and Gentiles within the one community of the church.

General themes of gospelling in Acts

1. No clear atonement theology in the book of Acts

Scot drew attention to the lack of any worked out theology of atonement in these evangelising sermons in Acts. Their engine is the story of Israel.

2. The preaching does not start with problems to be solved

There is promise of forgiveness. The prospect of peace and overcoming Jew / Gentile boundaries. The promise of empowering of the Spirit in mission. In other words, the preaching starts with the story of Jesus and moves to fulfillment and blessing. It is also interesting that no preaching in Acts starts with God’s love or God’s grace. Yes love and grace are suffused throughout those sermons, but they don’t start there.

3. Jesus is Lord Caesar is not

While this can be over-played by some today, there is an anti-imperial stance implicit in Paul’s preaching. He proclaims that Jesus is Lord of all. Paul does not attack Rome directly, but he is is not afraid of Rome either. Paul’s real concern [as in Acts 17 in Athens] is to connect his hearers with the story of Jesus and draw them into the implications that he alone is Lord.

And this raises questions for how we do gospelling in Ireland today. Of how our evangelising and preaching can tell the story of Jesus and draw people into and see the significance of that story for their lives …


4 thoughts on “Scot McKnight and the earliest Christian gospel (6): gospelling in Acts

  1. Loving your follow up posts on Scot – twas a great few days with him.

    On your last point regarding “how we do gospelling in Ireland today”, I am concerned. We now dwell within the months where — typically — we have more international friends and “missions teams” in and around our Irish churches than usual, most coming after months of training, and team meetings about championing the Gospel to Ireland. All with pure intentions, I am sure.

    The fact of the matter is that Ireland is in transit spiritually, and I’m not sure that we’ve really worked out what the Gospel really is. And I’m not talking just about the Catholic Church. Because of our current muddle here, I think the indigenous church in Ireland needs to think long and hard about our proclamation as we invite others to plug-in and join our heralding of the Messiah and His Kingdom. The onus fails squarely on us, not our visitors.

    The question is: can the indigenous evangelical church try harder to concert their “gospelling” efforts and sync their signals at one of the most crucial times in modern Irish Spirituality to do more justice to the most powerful story ever?

    How do you think the EAI could help the Irish church take some first steps Patrick?

  2. Hi Norm
    good to hear from you .. will await further news!
    I can’t speak for EAI – as an umbrella organisation they can faciliate and catalyse, but such work is really that of the local church.
    I’m coming to questions Scot touched on of how to preach the good news in contemporary [Western] culture in the final post 8.

  3. Thanks P. Nothing to report… any hour now – will let you know.

    Got your post today – great.

    The EAI’s mission ( includes “envisioning” though Patrick. I’d have to say -rightly or wrongly- that it’s a tad to limp for me for the EAI just to say they facilitate and catalyse at such a crucial time in our history. Especially after considering all these posts from Scot.

    Who better to initiate a new direction for the Irish Evangelical Church?

    I know you miss me at college.

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