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writing things down…

What about Nicolaus?

The falling of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his household is traditionally understood as the “Gentile Pentecost” or the first time the Spirit falls on Gentiles (10:44 and 11:15). And, in the narrative of Luke-Acts this episode is quite important, no doubt. But, I wonder if it is right to say it is the FIRST time the Spirit had fallen on a Gentile. I have no investment in this theory and I am sure there are valid rebuttals, but…

Acts 6:5 mentions last in the list of the seven deacons Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. This mention does a couple of things for the narrative—one of the clear signs that the seven deacons were Hellenists (and in Nicolaus’s case, a Gentile); a mention of Antioch, which will become a central city in the story. What rarely gets attention is the fact that at least one Gentile is among the early Christian community before the “Gentile Pentecost.” Also, we can confidently say that Nicolaus was filled with the Spirit, since this was a qualification for the deacons (6:3). And, we can wonder whether Nicolaus was among those who were filled with the Spirit after the prayer in ch. 4 (see 4:31; there is some debate about whether the gathering was of the apostles alone or several members of the community. The debate hinges on how one understands “their own” in 4:23). Or, could Nicolaus have been present at the original Pentecost event (ch. 2)?

Just a thought.

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2 Comments»

  Ben wrote @

Once he becomes a “proselyte” is he not then considered a Jew and no longer a Gentile. The only distinction is that he is not a Jew by birth.

  Chris wrote @

There is some discussion about the status of proselytes (see Witherington’s commentary where in a sidebar he discusses proselytes and god-fearers). Here in Acts, Luke seems to make some distinction, otherwise he wouldn’t have identified him as a proselyte. If he were considered a Jew, why call him a proselyte at all?


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