Tag: book of acts

Summary: The book of Acts tells a story about two traveling evangelists, Paul and Silas, as they encounter severe resistance in Philippi, a Roman colony. After the pair are dubiously accused, savagely beaten, and shamefully incarcerated, an earthquake miraculously frees them from their chains and cells. What might look like a story of supernaturally aided escape is really a story about vindication, a means of God exposing the futility of Roman attempts to obstruct the preaching of the gospel. The whole scene has a burlesque quality to it, for its aim is to expose the powerlessness and peevishness of an imperial culture that sets itself up to resist God’s presence, with violence if necessary. The passage speaks about more than ancient Roman realities, however, for its portrait of imperial abuses looks uncomfortably similar to the ways in which modern societies protect their interests and prerogatives. In the end, the story suggests that God offers a different reality, one beyond our ways of suppressing outsiders and clinging desperately onto our attempts at self-preservation.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on The Huffington Post and ON Scripture.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible

Summary: According to the book of Acts, when the temple-based authorities in Jerusalem command Peter and his associates to stop preaching and teaching about Jesus in public, the apostles refuse. With a pithy reply, “We must obey God rather than any human authority,” they declare their intention to honor their spiritual convictions no matter what consequences may result. The apostles’ heroic and bold resolve stands in a long tradition in which people have pondered when it is right to insist on honoring one’s conscience in the face of political and legal pressure to do otherwise. Given the contours of the current cultural discourse in America, when many are quick to demand laws and concessions that respect their “religious liberty,” this episode from Acts and the travails of other Christians who have paid a price for resisting tyranny remind us how we should conceive of “religious liberty” in the first place. Such liberty in a civil society should not become a license to do whatever one wants or a legal basis to deny rights and hospitality to others. Rather, it is a free determination to do what’s necessary to promote our neighbors’ well-being, even if those actions invite uncomfortable repercussions.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on ON Scripture.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible

When I think about the church and all its flaws, I’m often prone to be cynical. The book of Acts urges me to take a second look, though. Acts depicts Jesus in relationship to the church in ways that challenge me and sometimes inspire me. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts. Follow this link to read a short excerpt from the book, in which I talk a little about Jesus and his church.

Books and films

My new book will be available on Tuesday September 22. You can read an excerpt of it now, if you click here.

This book guides readers through one of the most colorful books of the Bible, illuminating passages from the Acts of the Apostles. It examines passages that show the Christian gospel expressing itself through the lives, speech, struggles, and adventures of some of Jesus’ first followers. The book emphasizes the disruptive character of the Christian gospel and shows how Acts repeatedly describes God as upsetting the status quo by changing people’s lives, society’s conventions, and our basic expectations of what’s possible. Suited for individual and group study, this book asks serious questions and eschews pat answers, bringing Acts alive for contemporary reflection on the character of God, the challenges of faith, and the church.

Books and films

Summary: In this biblical passage, the resurrected Jesus gives final instructions to his followers then ascends into the sky. His followers respond by returning to Jerusalem, where they wait and pray.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: In this biblical passage, set in Athens, Paul preaches in front of the city leaders (the Areopagite Council). His sermon draws on understandings he shares with them before turning to an issue many in his audience find incredible: the idea of God raising someone from the dead.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: In this biblical passage, the book of Acts describes the grisly death of Stephen, traditionally known as the church’s first martyr, the first person to die as a consequence of professing faith in Jesus.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: In this biblical passage, set during the Jewish festival of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fills Jesus’ followers. Peter attempts to make sense of this remarkable event by appealing to the Prophet Joel and emphasizing the Spirit as a Spirit of prophecy. The lectionary assigns this passage for the Day of Pentecost.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: This biblical passage concludes the Pentecost story in the book of Acts. Once Peter’s sermon ends, the gift of the Holy Spirit creates a community of believers engaged in mutual care and worship.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

 

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: This biblical passage continues the Pentecost story in the book of Acts. Peter’s audience responds positively to his sermon. Peter instructs them to “repent and be baptized.”

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary