Scripture - Acts 4:5-6 - The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas,
Theme - Power & Authority
Devotion - In today's verse the 'archon' arrive to interrogate Peter and John and put them back in place. The archon, according to Walter Wink are the political, religious and economic structures and functionaries with which people had to deal,' at the time. Literally in our story it is the religious archon, but Wink further tells us that one can indeed represent them all. In other words, Peter and John stand before not just those who are influential in the religious circles of society, but before the powerful or before Power.
The confrontation that Luke describes here is profoundly unsettling if we accept Walter Wink's suggestion that this story isn't limited to a religious dispute. If these authorities represent symbolic all authority, Peter is confronting social and political powers here as well. Walter Wink reminds us of these words of Paul in Ephesians, '[Jesus'] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.' Remember that this whole confrontation is rooted in Peter's compassion for an impoverished man and healing of this man. Peter is testifying to the wisdom of God which creates whole people, body and soul, material and spiritual. His authority isn't limited to spiritual matters because Jesus wasn't just spiritually raised from the dead. He was physically raised from the dead.
While there are many Christian voices that limit the admitedly complex issue of the churches interaction with those in political authority to Romans 13 in which Paul instructs the church to submit to the governing authorities because they are 'established by God.' This weeks story of Peter and the Rulers shows that the bibles instruction is more complex than just simple submission. Peter confronts the authorities with their injustice and idolatry. The verse from Ephesians reveals a more full understanding of Paul's thought which includes the responsibility of the church to make the wisdom of God known to the archon, to those in authority. It reveals his expectation that not only religious but social and political systems should conform to God's will and way of Shalom.
Prayer - Forgive us Lord, your church the body of Christ for being silent when faced with the power and authority. Help us and instruct us Lord to learn how to, like Peter, share your wisdom with those in authority so that our community is shaped by the loving shalom of God. Remind us to never seek our own power, but to always speak in service to the powerless and voiceless.
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