God’s Community in the midst of Empire

Our current sermon series is on the Book of Acts – The Acts of the Apostles as it is officially known.
This is the story of the early church as it grew and spread through the Roman Empire.
“The Acts of the Apostles is a dangerous document,” writes Beverly Gaventa in the first sentence of the Preface to her commentary.
“The book of Acts speaks of revolution” are the first words of the commentary on Acts written by Willie James Jennings.
I have titled this series “God’s Community in the midst of Empire”.
You are probably tired by now of hearing me talk about Empire, but I am becoming more and more convinced that this theme is one of the major themes of the Bible, and provides us with important keys for understanding what salvation is and from what we need salvation.
Acts is also about how the communities of Jesus followers spread throughout the Roman Empire learned how to live as God’s new community, the foretaste of the Kingdom of God that is yet to come fully.
Acts is full of tension, conflict, glory and joy. In that sense it is very relevant to our own times.
We will be using the commentaries by Jennings and Gaventa as the primary sources for our study.
Beverly Gaventa is Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor UNiversity and Helen H. P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis Emerita at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Willie James Jennings is African American, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School.

Here are links to these two books and a commentary by William H. Willimon, United Methodist Bishop, Theologian and Writer:

Acts, by Beverly Gaventa

Acts, by Willie James Jennings

Acts: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching by William H. Willimon

Acts: The Gospel of the Spirit by Justo Gonzalez