Week 2: The Gospel Spreads (James, Acts 13-20)
The epistle of James is widely recognized as one of the earliest New Testament books written, some believing it to be the very first—others suggest Galatians or 1 Thessalonians. It likely was not written as early as prior to Paul’s first missionary journey, of which we’ll read the last part of this week, but this is a good place to insert the reading of this letter. Moving from chapters 12 to 13 in Acts marks a significant transition in the emphasis of the book.
The book of James likely bears the name of Jesus’ brother, who plays a prominent role in the life of the early church in Jerusalem. The book of James has been called the “Proverbs of the New Testament” or the “practical Gospel.” Unquestionably it affords great benefit to the Christian with very practical instruction in Christian living.
The reading from Acts for this week covers all of Paul’s missionary journeys, that is, the three prior to his ultimate arrest in Jerusalem and first Roman imprisonment (with which the book of Acts concludes). Several of Paul’s letters are based on this time of his ministry and will be the subject of the readings for the remainder of this month as well as October.