the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Acts, Book of
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
Evidence from early Christian records, as well as from the book itself, indicates that Luke wrote the book of Acts. The book was the second of two volumes that Luke wrote, the first being Luke’s Gospel.
Luke wrote for a person named Theophilus, with the purpose of giving Theophilus an account of Christianity from the birth of its founder to the arrival of its greatest apostle in Rome (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2). Sections of Acts that are written in the first person show that Luke was with Paul on some of Paul’s missionary travels (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-37; Acts 21:1-17; Acts 27; Acts 28). (For further details concerning the author see .)
The value of Acts
Acts provides a good base for an intelligent understanding of much of the New Testament. Paul wrote his earlier letters during the period covered by Acts, and the present-day reader will have a better understanding of those letters, and other letters of the New Testament, once he is familiar with Acts. The book is also an important document for an understanding of significant developments in world history. Secular historians acknowledge Luke to be an accurate and reliable writer, and the findings of archaeology confirm the exactness of the technical expressions he uses in relation to places and officials (Acts 13:7; Acts 16:12; Acts 16:35; Acts 18:12; Acts 18:16; Acts 19:31; Acts 19:35).
From the title of honour that Luke gives Theophilus, it seems that Theophilus was an official in the Roman government (Luke 1:3; cf. Acts 23:26; Acts 26:25). Whether he was or not, there is no doubt that at the time Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts (in the early AD 60s), the Roman government was paying increasing attention to Christianity. Luke is therefore concerned to point out that Christianity was not in any way rebellious to Roman rule and was not a threat to law and order.
Christians were sometimes involved in civil disturbances, but Luke shows by one example after another that the Christians were not the cause of the trouble. Consistently the Roman authorities acknowledged the Christians to be innocent (Acts 16:37-39; Acts 18:12-16; Acts 19:31; Acts 19:37; Acts 23:29; Acts 25:18; Acts 26:31-32; Acts 28:30-31). In almost every case where there was trouble in connection with the Christians, the Jews were to blame (Acts 9:23; Acts 9:29; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:2; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:13; Acts 18:12-17; Acts 21:27). Christianity was not an illegal religion according to Roman law. On the contrary it was the legitimate continuation of the religion established by Abraham and developed through Moses, David and the Israelite nation (Acts 2:31-33; Acts 13:26-33; Acts 15:15-18; Acts 26:22-23; Acts 28:23).
This progression from the old Jewish era to the new Christian era came about through Jesus Christ. He was the Messiah of whom the Jewish religion spoke and for whom it had prepared the way (Acts 2:36; Acts 3:18; Acts 9:22; Acts 17:3; Acts 18:5; Acts 18:28). Though he had now physically left the world and returned to his heavenly Father, he was in a sense still in the world. Through the Holy Spirit he indwelt his followers, and through them he continued to work (Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:33; Acts 3:6; Acts 3:16; Acts 4:30-31; Acts 5:31-32). The spread of the gospel and the growth of the church was the ongoing work of Christ, acting by his Spirit through his followers (Acts 8:29; Acts 8:39; Acts 9:17; Acts 9:31; Acts 10:19; Acts 10:45; Acts 13:2; Acts 13:4; Acts 15:28; Acts 16:6-7; see ).
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