A Paean to “A.D. Kingdom and Empire” on Netflix

They Cancelled This Show in 2015
…but I Just Found Out

When NBC cancelled A.D. The Bible Continues, I had no idea it was a thing, but now, three years later, I’m heartbroken. Now I have watched all 12 episodes of A.D. Kingdom and Empire (it got renamed for it’s Netflix Release) and I am very sad that the Roma Downey and Mark Burnett produced adaptation of the book of Acts is not continuing.

So this is my eulogy for “A.D. Kingdom and Empire” AKA “A.D. The Bible Continues” and my contribution to the googleverse in hopes of a reboot some day soon, and a motivational essay to read the book of Acts again this week. If you live in the Philadelphia area, come live it with us in Circle of Hope.

Peter praying to stay the Holy Spirit’s hand

The Holy Spirit is No Joke

In Acts 5 we find the troubling story of Ananias (Peter De Jersey) and Sapphira (Indra Ové) who held back some of the money they got from selling their house but said that they gave it all to the newly born church. In A.D. Kingdom and Empire blood comes out of their eyes and they die for lying to the Holy Spirit in a very scary scene. How could any TV producer skip such a gruesome moment in history? Acts 5:11 says “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

Um… yeah! Great fear seized me when I first heard this story, too. If I’m honest, there’s still a tinge of fear in me as I reflect on it now. The Holy Spirit is no joke. God was trying to do something that required the utmost seriousness. The new movement was not for spiritual tourists who could move on to what’s next after the high wore off. This movement could not peter out (poor Peter!). If the Church of Jesus’ first followers didn’t survive, thrive and bust out of the confines of Jerusalem, God’s plan would not have happened. Desperate times call for desperate measures, it seems — even the confounding sudden death of two would-be-followers. The way this story is portrayed in the show brings the immediacy and the meagerness of the movement to light in a compelling way. Peter (Adam Levy) gets why they are dying but he is freaked out, too. I love the confusion that streaks through the faces of the main characters. They are not yet saints, wise in their remote spaces in history. They are living, failing, God-trusting people just like us. In a later episode of the show, the Holy Spirit almost kills Simon Magus (Stephen Walterswho tries to pay Peter for the Holy Spirit but Peter begs God in the thundercloud to spare the foolish new disciple. It didn’t happen just like that in Acts, but it made for good TV, and it communicated the live-wire wildness of the moment.

Procla, Pilate’s wife (as the story goes), is a Saint in the Greek Orthodox Church

The Resurrection Had Political Consequences

Four of the main characters of the show are Pontius Pilate (Vincent Regan), his wife Claudia (Joanne Whalley), Caiaphas (Richard Coyle), the high priest, and his wife, Leah (Jodhi May). They are not just the evil ones, they are real people with real pressures of their own. Each are tempted to believe in Jesus’ resurrection, especially Claudia and Caiaphas. The political intrigue is not historically accurate, but it could have been! How would the Jesus movement know that Pilate’s wife had dreams about Jesus (as in Matthew 27:19) if she did not one day become a Christian and tell them her story?

From Wikipedia: “In the 3rd century, Origen suggested in his Homilies on Matthew that the wife of Pilate had become a Christian,or at least that God sent her the dream mentioned by Matthew so that she would convert. This interpretation was shared by several theologians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The apocryphal Letter of Pilate to Herod, dating from around the 3rd–4th century, names Pilate’s wife as Procla and connects to the story of Matthew 27:19.”

The show writers had a lot of opportunities to incorporate other legends and speculations from the early church but didn’t do so, however, they did take the opportunity to highlight the political consequences of the resurrection. Jesus disrupted the political potentates of his day, and he continues to do so. The power to kill is the source of all political power. When you boil it down, that’s it. The state’s ability to kill and the permission the people give it to kill is the only real ultimatum. Violence is the source of state power. Read the first two chapters of William Cavanaugh’s book “Migrations of the Holy” if you need to be convinced of this. There are other places to find this argument too. But, for now, it suffices to say that the foundation of any governmental power is death. And if Jesus rose form the dead then he is not subject to any power. Pilate and Caiaphas, and Claudia and Leah, as portrayed in the show, are obviously threatened by this. How we respond to Jesus’ anarchic resurrection will dictate how we relate to government. Are we subjects of the Kingdom or the empire(s)?

Chipo Chung as Mary Magdalene

They Don’t Know What They’re Doing Either (But the Women Knew Better)

After Jesus’ death, the disciples have no idea what to do. Only Mary, Jesus’ mother (Greta Scacchi), remembers what Jesus said. She is stone-faced and sad after watching her son die but she refuses to give up as many of the men are doing. She is waiting for the third day. Mary Magdalene (played by Chipo Chung), who is the first apostle of the resurrection in the Bible, also gets her proper place in the show. She sees Jesus, and we get to see her as one of the most important characters in the show (because she IS one of the most important people in history). The men defer to her, she makes converts, and she’s always part of the dialogue about what they need to do. Twelve disciples would be too many characters for drama so only a few disciples are dramatized. It’s unclear what happened to the rest of the twelve in the show, but Mary Magdalene takes one of their places.

They muddle through the amazing things that happen. From the resurrection, to Pentecost, to persecution, to new believers who aren’t Jewish, they are stumbling through an incredibly disorienting ordeal. Can you imagine what it would be like? I can, but not so well as they creators of this show have done for us!

It is helpful to read through scripture with our imaginations. What was it like? What were the smells? What did you see? How did you feel? Art like this show, all the many, many paintings, and the other films that were made about these stories from the Bible help us feel our way into the story even more. John, the Beloved disciple, may always be a slow to speak, dark skinned African man (Babou Ceesay) in my imagination. And I am forever grateful for that. 

I need to feel my way through these stories and find myself in them because reading the Bible at a distance just doesn’t work. The point of reading the Bible is to relate to Jesus and find myself in his story. Art helps me do that. It will help you, too, especially when the artists assume that these people in the Bible were a lot like us. We don’t know what we’re doing a lot of the time either.

“The Road To Damascus” Episode 108 — Pictured: Joe Dixon as Phillip

Those Baptisms Though

The formula for baptism in the show is backwards into the water for like a three second count — in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is a good ritual! I love that they stay underwater for as long as they do because it is really symbolic of the death they are dying with Christ. When we baptize people in Circle of Hope we do it three times, bowing forward in submission to Christ. Some folks I have baptized are pretty scared about going under, and I assure them that is the point. We are going through death with Christ and coming out on the other side with him. Staying under, though? Holding your breath for a moment until you get pulled up? That is pretty cool.

Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-5

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

This show gets that. These early Christians were serious about what Paul said even before he wrote it. Paul codified the ritual in Romans but it meant something before he said that. It meant death and resurrection, and you can SEE that in the show, even if it isn’t said. That is what ritual is all about. It is an enacted truth that often goes deeper and truer than words ever can.

Saul was initially devastated by Jesus’ appearance to him.

Paul Really Was a Badass from the Start

When Saul has his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus in the show I was unimpressed. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of how they portray Jesus in the show at all. But the aftermath of the encounter was awesome. Saul’s agony and redemption mediated by someone who isn’t sure of what they saw (it was an Angel — who is also totally badass). Then Saul comes back to the disciples in Jerusalem and demands forgiveness.

Peter and Saul have a one-on-one conversation. Saul is under tons of suspicion. He is trying to make Peter and the disciples trust him but Peter is slow to do so. Saul says to Peter,

“This is all a bit ridiculous, surely. I know what I’ve done, Peter, but listening to you all downstairs it’s like you had forgot that Jesus taught you forgiveness. I mean you lived with him — you know his message — so, so, sorry but I’m confused.” Saul of Tarsus got swagger! And that is why God chose him! I love how Emmett J Scanlan gets that across in his Irish brogue. Saul’s confidence, his arrogance even, was what God needed! You might have something in you that doesn’t seem like a gift. You might have done things that are hard to forgive. You too are chosen by God for a purpose. And a lot of what you see as useless, God can use. You might not receive such a direct address from Jesus as Saul did, but if you listen you will know.

In Conclusion, Bring it Back For Season Two!

I could go on and on about this show (and I already have), but please, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey of Lightworkers Entertainment, please bring back this show! I hear you’re working on an end times story instead. No thanks. I want more of these characters and the imaginative plot twists that your writers have supplied already. What if the stories of all these unsung heroes really did weave together in this way? Some of my Christian counterpoints are up in arms that you did not “stick to the Bible.” To them I say “p’sha.” You got it. No, it was not exact, but you got it. If they demand some fastidious recreation of only what is in the text 1) it’s bad TV, bad drama, bad art and 2) they are just way too uptight. Jesus likes this show, mkay? Well, I guess he’ll tell us whether or not he does some day, but I really, really like this show, mkay? So can we get a Season Two of A.D Kingdom and Empire? Lord, hear our prayer.

And if you made it this far, you must like to read. So keep reading. Read the book of Acts. Imagine, pray and listen right through the whole epic story. We’re living the 29th Chapter.

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298 thoughts on “A Paean to “A.D. Kingdom and Empire” on Netflix

  1. …AND SO IT IS DONE! Where there is DESIRE, where HEART and SOUL ache. I would LOVE the series to continue and i REALLY want to hear the stories of the disciples and how the word spread.


    I am not from a religious back ground but when the proverbial s*** hit the fan of my life. I began to ask questions, lots of questions and a journey began. As part of that journey I ended up at an ashram in India. Before my return home I had a desire to visit Chenni botanical gardens. Unfortunately on that day it was closed and so the taxi driver recommended the Church of St Thomas, where the tomb of St Thomas was said to lie. I wasn’t too excited about visiting a Christian Church but agreed to go along with my fellow travellers. The church itself was unremarkable. On the walls were posters summarising the lives of the disciples and their grim ends; including St Thomas who’s story was extraordinary. When I descended to the tomb, i found myself drawn to placing my hands at its base (under a rather old and faded manikin of St Thomas). I felt an overwhelming sweep of energy flow from my hands and through my body and with it I saw an image of a desert in the early morning. ( After 12 days in relative silence and attuned to high frequencies at the ashram, I was highly sensitive). I was in awe and found myself asking “St Thomas, I don’t know who you are or who you were, but I WANT TO KNOW MORE and I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS!” I then heard a voice! “You will be shown a book!” The voice was loud and clear. I drew away from the tomb and I spent some time sitting in quiet and letting the energy settle and questioning the reality of the voice. I then excited the tomb and whilst waiting for my friends looked through some books in the gift shop. I thought “I wonder if what I am looking for is here?” the voice returned “No, it is not here, it will be shown to you on your return” It was said with such clarity and power that I immediately put down the book and thought “OK” (I felt almost told off!). At this point I want to say, I had never heard voices and although i have had a number of miraculous experiences I have never heard anything like it since.

    On my return to the UK, I started to think that ‘the voice’ was somehow a figment of my imagination and the experience began to fade. However, about a week after my return a friend recommended a book. A week later the same book was recommended by someone else. Another week later someone sent an email again mentioning the same book. I decided to place an order. I did not at anytime relate this to ‘the voice’ but when it finally arrived and i read the introduction I had a jaw dropping moment. The book was called ‘The Disappearance of the Universe’ and told the story of an American called Gary Renard who had two ascended masters appeared to him during meditations over a period of several months. One was St Thaddeus and the other was ST THOMAS!!! Coincidence??? Well, I could easily have put it down to coincidence, but the coincidences in my life started to pile up until I COULD NO LONGER DENY that something ‘fishy’ was going on (pun intended). During The Bible TV series, the scene of Peter denying Jesus was particularly brilliant and i found myself on my knees in tears. I COULD NO LONGER DENY JESHUA, I COULD NO LONGER DENY GOD, I COULD NO LONGER DENY THE CHRIST WITHIN!

    At first I found myself escaping into meditation and onto courses that took me ‘up’ and i was having more and more heightened blissful experiences but the come downs as I returned home to normal life, squabbling kids, a grumpy, stressed husband and ailing parents became harder and harder. I appeared to be working through darker and darker energies until every aspect of being human appeared to surface around me.. and i mean virtually every dark aspect. It was then that i had what i can only described as an epiphany. I no longer felt judgment of these dark and fearful aspects of being human but felt that this primal power could and must be harnessed for the good. We live in such fear and more than often believe that darkness is more powerful than LOVE and LIGHT and yet the disciples demonstrated that if we allow the HOLY SPIRIT to flow through us the reverse is true. ARE WE TO CONTINUE TO CROSS TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET OR IS OUR TRUE MEANING, PURPOSE AND VALUE TO… WAKE UP… AND WALK AS CHRIST… AND ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO WORK THROUGH US. ROARRRRR!

    Easily said than done perhaps but i do feel an AWAKENING is taking place on this planet at this time and a HEARTS DESIRE to reside IN THE POWER OF LOVE and if necessary to follow Jeshua in Civil disobedience. WE ARE THE SECOND COMING!


    1. Thank you for your heartfelt sharing of your personal story. The lockdowns happening around the world now gives people a chance and a time to reflect on what’s important and what makes their soul light up. We just need to listen and recognise it! Jesus is there to be a light in this time of uncertainty. 💛


    2. Disappointment is an understatement !! I was shocked and irate , yes irate to be led up the garden path with the last episode …. no season 2 is an insult to the viewer Netflix should remove the entire season …. not worth the time if there is no conclusive season or seasons!
      Thanks to the ‘ratings’ !!!


    3. Dear Caroline: God is obviously “courting” you. 🙂 It seems to me our Lord Jesus is calling you to follow Him closely, and by your candid disclosure of your experience you are unwittingly saying Yes to that call. I am happy for you.


  2. My hubby and I just binge watched this series over Holy Week. It is a movie for the modern audience in that the women characters have a stronger role. Characters are realistic with individual personalities and human frailties and ultimately what’s important is their faith in Jesus as it steadily grows stronger and more solid following initial doubt and confusion and trying to sift through seemingly conflicting scriptural writings and prophecies to understand the truth.

    Hubby usually isn’t into religious movies but we enjoyed this one and would love a second series to learn more about the Acts of the Apostles.


  3. Please continue and have all the seasons in accordance to the Bible. We pray for this. Blessings to the producers.


  4. Please we need this show more than ever.The whole world needs hope ,and the show gave us that.It appeals to the very core of our faith and humanity.
    We need that helping hand ,and strength to keep us sane.Sunny


  5. This film called me at a perfect time. I started watching this out of a random interest on Netflix in New Zealand on Saturday 11th (Easter weekend, the night before “he is risen”). This film connects with me and reminds me of my faith that I’ve been disconnected with for a while as well as enabling me to really learn what the apostles went through to preach the word of God through his son’s name, Jesus. I would love this special film to continue with season 2 and continue portray what the people of God had to do in order to pursue their journey to share the truthful words of our Messiah and our God (a work that continues till this day). God bless everyone and happy Easter to all because “he is risen” 🙂


  6. Hi , My family and I have watched season 1 and its very disappointing to see there is no season 2. Its so enriched with history and did help a lot knowing the bible too. I think there should be season 2 soon coming.


  7. No chances. Some powers to be have stopped it saying that it was not liked. Well it clearly was by at least 70% of viewers…


  8. Please make season 2. This series is top 6 already in the Philippines. We all loved and excited to see for the season2.


  9. There will be no season two unfortunately, the message is too strong for some people.
    We all know who believe in Jesus what happened to his Followers!
    After 12 episodes we understand better what Holy Spirit really means.
    Happy Easter everyone and may God be with you all!!!🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻


  10. Just finished Season 1. Loved it! Inspired me to download and listen to the New Testament. I want to learn more. I pray they bring it back! It just left you hanging. What a terrible way to leave a wonderful TV series.


  11. I ve just finished to watch this tv series…and i found that is not finished….there remain so many things to show us ..must be another season or i m wrong?i can t belive that it s all..
    Is not fair.


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