Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching Unites Us
Day 3 looks at the first essential element of unity; the Word of God delivered through the teaching of the apostles. The church in Jerusalem reminds us that, whatever our divisions, these teachings urge us to devote ourselves in love to each other, and in faithfulness to the one body which is the church.
Isaiah 51:4-8 Listen to me, my people
Psalm 119:105-112 Your word is a lamp to my feet
Romans 1:15-17 Eagerness to proclaim the gospel
John 17:6-19 I have made your name known
The Church of Jerusalem in the Acts of the Apostles was united in its devotion to the apostles’ teaching, despite the great diversity of language and culture amongst its members. The apostles’ teaching is their witness to the life, teaching, ministry, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Their teaching is what St Paul simply calls “the gospel.” The apostles’ teaching, as exemplified by St Peter’s preaching in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. In his use of the prophet Joel, he connects the Church with the biblical story of the people of God, drawing us into the narrative that begins in creation itself.
Despite divisions the Word of God gathers and unites us. The apostles’ teaching, the good news in all its fullness, was at the centre of unity in diversity of the first Church of Jerusalem. Christians in Jerusalem remind us today that it is not simply the “apostles’ teaching” that the united earliest church, but devotion to that teaching. Such devotion is reflected in St Paul identifying the gospel as “the power of God for salvation.”
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s teaching is inseparable from God’s “justice for a light to the peoples.” Or, as the psalmist prays, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”
God of Light, we give you thanks for the revelation of your truth in Jesus Christ, your Living Word, which we have received through the apostles’ teaching, first heard at Jerusalem. May your Holy Spirit continue to sanctify us in the truth of your Son, so that united in Him we may grow in devotion to the Word, and together serve your Kingdom in humility and love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
The materials contained herein are drawn entirely from materials that are jointly prepared and published by The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and The Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.