The book, “The Acts of the Apostles,” was written by the author of the Gospel According to Luke around 85 to 90 CE.
Today’s reading is a description of the early Jesus Follower community (they were not called “Christians” until 85 CE or so). It follows the long speech given by Peter after the Pentecost Event and shows that Jesus Followers saw their religious practices as a part of Judaism. Verse 46 states: “They spent much time together in the temple.” The Temple was active until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE in response to the Jewish/Zealot Revolt in 66.
The Jesus Followers’ devotion to “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (v. 42) is imported word for word into the Baptismal Covenant used by The Episcopal Church. In Acts, “the breaking of bread” refers both to common meals and to the Lord’s Supper.
Common ownership of goods was understood by the Jesus Follower community as consistent with Jesus’ teachings, such as those found in Chapter 12 of the Gospel according to Luke. Common ownership was also practiced in the Essene community at Qumran (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), a religious community that had subtle (but discernable) influences on the Jesus Follower Movement in the First Century.
1 Peter 2:19-25
In the First Century, it was not uncommon to write something in another person’s name so that the writing would have extra “authority” – particularly when the writer believed he knew what the “authority” (in this case, Peter) would have said.
The First Letter of Peter was likely written in the last quarter of the First Century, long after Peter’s death. It was written in sophisticated Greek and resembles the form of Paul’s letters. Its focus is not on the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth, but on the Resurrection and the affirmation that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Today’s reading holds up Jesus the Christ as an example to Jesus Followers of one who endured unjust suffering, based largely on the model of the “Suffering Servant” described in Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12.