Acts • “The importance of this book cannot be exaggerated” ~Donald Guthrie • “The Book of Acts becomes more fascinating the more one studies it. Its pages provide the only reliable account of what really happened between the ascension of Jesus Christ and the remarkable spread of the Christian faith. ~Homer A. Kent • “A….vast treasure” ~John Calvin • “Live in that book, I exhort you; it is a tonic, the greatest tonic I know of in the realm of the Spirit.” ~M.L Jones.
Who wrote it? • The unanimous testimony is that it was written by Luke—who also authored the Gospel of Luke. • Muratorian Fragment (earliest known list of NT books). • Irenaeus (ad. 130-202) • Clement of Alexandria (150-215) • Tertullian (150-220) • Origen (185-254) • Eusebius (325-340) • Jerome (340-420) all attest
Who wrote it? • Internal Evidence (From Scripture) points to Luke as well. • We know that Luke was a travelling companion of Paul’s. • 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me…” • Philemon 24, “Ephaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.” • Col 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings."
Who wrote it? • Within the book of Acts there are several locations where the writer speaks in the 1st person. (we, us). • Acts 16:10-17 • Acts 20:5 - 21:18 • Acts 27:1 - 28:16 • The only companions of Paul NOT named in Acts is Luke and Titus. • Titus at times accompanied Paul but did not appear to have been a companion of Paul's as seen in his Epistle greetings. • So by process of elimination (named and unnamed)—Luke. • Both internal evidence and external evidence points to this being written by Luke.
Who was Luke? • Luke was a gentile believer and physician who often travelled with the Apostle Paul. • It may have been that Paul’s reoccurring illnesses on his 1st missionary journey prompted him to bring Luke along with him on his 2nd missionary journey(which starts in Acts 16). • He would be with Paul until the end of his life (2 Tim 4:11)
Who was Luke? • He was an educated and cultured man. • We know this because of the literary style in which he writes. • And because he had an intimate knowledge of Roman customs, laws and privileges. He gives correct titles of various provincial rulers and describes with great detail and accuracy the geography of the various locations in Acts. • He was painstaking in his research and in his steadfast pursuit of writing and researching only what true. • So much so that the 19th century archaeologist Sir William Ramsay who once doubted Acts historicity, went on to embrace it as more and more historical evidence emerged that substantiated everything Luke wrote.
What was his goal? • Luke 1:1-4 • “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Purpose) • Acts 1:1, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach…” • The wonderful detail of his writing (13:8-17; 14:9-14; 20:36-38)
When was it written? • Some say ad 70, after the fall of Jerusalem (or later). • Best date is between ad 60-62, toward the end of Paul’s first imprisonment. • Several reasons for this but the best is that, as detailed as Luke was, he would never have chosen to leave out the persecution of Christians under Nero, the destruction of Jerusalem or the death of Paul. • In fact, the Book of Acts seems to end abruptly, as if that were all there was to write at that point.
Gospel of Luke and Acts • In word count—Luke is the largest contributor of the New Testament (App. 28%). • And gives us the most complete NT History (ca. 6 b.c.—60 a.d). • Luke is said to be the most accurate historian from the first century—including Josephus.
Action Packed! • Ch.1: Jesus ascends, Judas replaced by Matthias. • Ch.2: The Holy Spirit fills the disciples. Peter speaks. • Ch.3: Peter and John heal, Peter preaches Christ. • Ch.4: Peter and John Arrested. • Ch.5: Ananias and Saphira, Gamaliels Advice. • Ch.6: 7 Chosen as Deacons, Stephen Accused of Blasphemy. • Ch.7: Stephens Sermon, Rebuked, and Stoned. • Ch.8: Saul Persecutes, Philip the 1st Missionary. • Ch.9: Saul called by Christ. • Ch.10: Peter Trance, Speaks with Gentiles. • Ch.11: Speak to those in jerusalem about circumcision and Gentiles. • Ch.12: James killed, Peter arrested, rescued, Herod dies. • Ch.13: Shift to Paul who preaches and is called to Gentiles • Ch.14: Paul and Barnabas Preach, Paul stoned and left for dead.
Action Packed! • Ch.15: Council@ Jerusalem concerning circumcision • Ch.16: Paul and Silas journey together • Ch.17: In Thessalonica and Berea, Paul in Athens, --Areopogus. • Ch.18: Paul, Silas, Timothy reunited @ Corinthian church • Ch.19: Paul in Ephesus • Ch.20: Eutychus is raised from the dead, a word of warning from Paul • Ch.21: Agabus prophesies Paul to be bound in Jerusalem—still goes! • Ch.22 Paul speaks @ Jerusalem in Hebrew • Ch.23: Paul before the Council, 40 vow not to eat until he is dead. • Ch.24: Paul speaks to Felix in defense, 2 years in jail waiting. • Ch.25 Paul speaks to Festus, Appeals to Caesar by Agrippa • Ch.26: Paul before Herod Agrippa • Ch.27: Paul sets sail for Rome, Shipwrecked on Malta • Ch.28: On Malta (bit by viper), then in Rome.
Themes and Purpose • Repeatedly we see that man is to repent and return to God and be baptized. • We see a wonderful persistence in service to God regardless of hardships suffered (14:20). • Disciples are being killed, sent to jail, stoned, beat up and more yet they continue to sing praises to God. • Throughout Acts we see Preaching! Peter, Paul, Philip, Stephen, Barnabas, and many more preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. • God foreordaining and controlling all things (13:27, 29) • The church growing and increasing in number (16:5). • For the first time, we see what this new “sect” is being called—”The Way” (19:9, 23, 33:4, 24:14, 22). • The overarching theme to this book is the preaching and spreading of the Gospel to the World through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (over 50x)
On the Holy Spirit • “The many references to the Holy Spirit in this book are a sufficient indication that the writer regards the development of Christian history as due to a superhuman control….As Christian influence spreads from Jerusalem to Rome there is no impression given that this progress is due ultimately to human achievement, not even to the dynamic and indefatigable labors of an apostle Paul. God was hedging his people round, preventing undesirable developments here and prompting to sustained evangelistic efforts there. In short, God was as active in the early Christian communities and in the messengers of the gospel as He had been in the movement and teaching of Jesus.” Guthrie
Peter (1-12) and Paul (13-28) PeterPaul • Filled with Holy Spirit 4:8 13:9 • Message to “men of Israel” 2:22-36 13:16-37 • Healing of Lame Man 3:1-10 14:8-10 • Raising of a Dead Person 9:36-43 20:9-12 • Magician Confronted 8:9-24 13:6-12 • Shadow Healings 5:15 19:12 • Prison Chains Loosed 12:7 16:26 • Transe While Prayhing 10:10 22:17 • Vision Leading to Preching 10:17-35 16:9-10 • Addressed by Angel 12:7-8 27:23-4 • Three Evangelistic messages. 2, 3, 10 13,14,17 • Jesus Peter Paul (Paul was every bit the apostle that Peter was)
Interpretive Challenges • Historicity of Acts (mistakes?) • Theudas and Judas of Galilee (5:36-37) • Abraham’s purchase of tomb in Shechem (7:16) • Speeches in Acts • Actual reproductions* • Accurate Summaries • Inventions of the writer • Peter’s use of Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:17-21) • Complete fulfillment • Partial • Potential • Preview of Future Fulfillment.*
Interpretive Challenges • The Imperative “Repent….and Be baptized” (2:38) • Baptism is necessary for forgiveness • Baptism on the basis of forgiveness* • Baptism Parenthetical: Only Repentance necessary • James’ use of Amos 9:11-12 (Acts 15:15-18) • Complete fulfillment of Amos in the present. • Four Chronological Movements (The Church, The Return of Christ-The Restoration of Israel—The Millennial Salvation of Gentiles. • The Present Gentile Salvation Like Future Gentile salvation.
Preaching/Teaching Acts • Difficult. • Not enough to communicate what Luke was saying and why—but what is its relevance to us today. • Acts is not a paradigm for the church of today to be repeated. • It is history (like OT). • It is descriptive (what happened) not prescriptive (what must continuously happen). • So we need to be careful.
Acts • “Luke does not merely give us a history of the early church; he tells us that there is a plan to history. God is unfolding it. That plan does not have to do with the rise and fall of empires. It does not have to do with one race or people being more influential than another. The Bible does not even look at history as having to do primarily with individual successes or attainments. The meaning of history is in God’s work; God reaching down into the mass of fallen humanity and saving some hell-bent men and women, bringing them into a new fellowship, the church, and beginning to work in them in such a way that glory is brought to Jesus Christ. That is what Luke is writing about as he unfolds these events.” J.M. Boice.
Acts • We will begin verse by verse exposition of this book in 2 weeks. • Pray.