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Week Four Acts of the Apostles Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge has been a popular part of the Rule of Life as together we have read and reflected on scripture. Previous challenges saw us reading Jonah, 1 Peter and the Psalms. This year the Bishop of Liverpool, Right Reverend Doctor John Perumbalath will be guiding us through the Acts of the Apostles.

Bishop John’s Commentary

Reflection on last week’s learning

In our reading of Acts chapter 15 last week, we focused on how the early church navigated the challenge of change and conflict. Church needed to change and there were differing views on how to include gentiles in the church, There are a few things that stand out about the process:

a) Recognizing the pre-history: Conflicts have a pre-history. Transition to a gentile mission started sometime ago and that story was listened to.

b) Framing the issue: The apostles find that the issue is not just about observance of a custom but about discerning what God is doing in our midst now.

c) Hearing the evidence/testimony: Paul, Peter and Barnabas are given opportunities to speak from their experience.

d) Establishing sources of authority: scripture, experience and reason. James renders a proposal, having so far been a listening facilitator in the debate.

e) Moving to discernment from democracy: Congregations that attempt to deal with change are not primarily engaged in an exercise in democracy, but an exercise in discernment; discernment doesn’t seem the will of the majority but the mind of Christ.

f) Anticipating post-history: Conflicts have a post history, requiring continuing interpretation and pastoral attention.

This week’s focus

This week, we delve into the last section of the Book of Acts: Chapters 22-28. In Willie Jennings' commentary, this part is titled "The Disciple-Citizen." Here, we witness Paul, a Roman citizen and follower of Christ, facing opposition from Roman authorities. So far Paul’s opposition was from Jews. But as his mission progressed, his message was perceived as anti-Roman (proclaiming Christ as king is denying the sovereignty of Caesar). In this section of Acts, it is the Roman authorities that arrest him and imprison him. Paul decided to use one of his rights as a Roman citizen: make an appeal to Caesar. On that ground, Paul is sent to Rome. The Books of Acts ends with Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.

Once you have read chapters 22-28, please re-read Acts 25:1-12. The question I want to you have in mind is about the relationship of Church and State. What does this passage say about Christians and the State?

Week 4 Challenge

• Read chapters 22-28 of the Book of Acts.

• After completing the reading, take a moment to re-read Acts 25:1-12.

• Focus specifically on the question of the relationship between the Church and the State.

• What does this passage say about Christians and the State?

• Consider the historical context and the broader message conveyed in the passage and implications for relationship between the Church and the State in today's context


  • Called To Read
  • Reading

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