, Luke was written to be read aloud to a group of Jesus-followers gathered in a house to share the Lord's supper. Major turning points in the structure of Acts, for example, find parallels in Luke: the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple parallels the opening of Acts in the Temple, Jesus's forty days of testing in the wilderness prior to his mission parallel the forty days prior to his Ascension in Acts, the mission of Jesus in Samaria and the Decapolis (the lands of the Samaritans and Gentiles) parallels the missions of the Apostles in Samaria and the Gentile lands, and so on (see Gospel of Luke).  The Romans never move against Jesus or his followers unless provoked by the Jews, in the trial scenes the Christian missionaries are always cleared of charges of violating Roman laws, and Acts ends with Paul in Rome proclaiming the Christian message under Roman protection; at the same time, Luke makes clear that the Romans, like all earthly rulers, receive their authority from Satan, while Christ is ruler of the kingdom of God. The Acts of the Apostles (Koinē Greek: Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, Práxeis Apostólōn; Latin: Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.. There are also major differences between Acts and Paul on Christology (the understanding of Christ's nature), eschatology (understanding of the "last things"), and apostleship. , This article is about the book in the Christian New Testament.  There are similar conflicts over the theology, and while not seriously questioning the single authorship of Luke–Acts, these differences do suggest the need for caution in seeking too much consistency in books written in essence as popular literature. It lacks exact analogies in Hellenistic or Jewish literature. It is not known whether this was an existing title or one invented by Irenaeus; it does seem clear that it was not given by the author, as the word práxeis (deeds, acts) only appears once in the text (Acts 19:18) and there it does not refer to the apostles but refers to deeds confessed by followers to the apostles. , Prior to the 1950s, Luke–Acts was seen as a historical work, written to defend Christianity before the Romans or Paul against his detractors; since then the tendency has been to see the work as primarily theological. (If you are new to the book of Acts this book is not the place to start - read Acts itself and pick up a good commentary such as those of J.W. As was stated, Acts is the second part of what was originally a two-part, single volume (i.e. ", Acts (or Luke–Acts) is intended as a work of "edification," meaning "the empirical demonstration that virtue is superior to vice. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.  The anonymous author aligned Luke–Acts to the "narratives" (διήγησις, diēgēsis) which many others had written, and described his own work as an "orderly account" (ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς). Learn more in Robert H. Gundry’s online course, New Testament Survey. Support for such accuracy comes from striking parallels of expression between Peter’s sermons in Acts and 1 Peter and between Paul’s sermons in Acts and his letters. The Holy Spirit descends on Cornelius and his guests, thus confirming that the message of eternal life in Christ is for all mankind. If he did, the book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. He may have put some of these in a diary at the time of the events. Meanwhile, Roman readers may have approved of Paul's censure of the illegal practice of magic (Acts 19:17–19) as well as the amicability of his rapport with Roman officials such as Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:6–12) and Festus (Acts 26:30–32). , The author may have taken as his model the works of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who wrote a well-known history of Rome, or the Jewish historian Josephus, author of a history of the Jews. The only adequate explanation: Luke did not make up the speeches and sermons, but summarized their contents so accurately that the characteristic phraseology of Peter and Paul is evident in Luke’s reporting as well as in their letters. , The earliest possible date for Luke-Acts is around 62 AD, the time of Paul's imprisonment in Rome, but most scholars date the work to 80–90 AD on the grounds that it uses Mark as a source, looks back on the destruction of Jerusalem, and does not show any awareness of the letters of Paul (which began circulating late in the first century); if it does show awareness of the Pauline epistles, and also of the work of the Jewish historian Josephus, as some believe, then a date in the early 2nd century is possible. Because the most common view is that Luke used material from Mark, and we’re fairly certain that Mark was written sometime from the mid-50s to around A… https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-history-of-the-early-church Traditionally, the text is believed to have been written by Luke the companion of Paul (named in Colossians 4:14). Get updates from Zondervan Academic directly in your inbox. implications for the date Acts was written. On the one hand, Luke generally does not portray this interaction as one of direct conflict. “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach” (v. 1). The Purpose of Acts. , Luke–Acts is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah, promised to the Jews, came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it. Photo credit: Unsplash/Aaron Burden. Jesus, "is lord [κύριος] of all." Theologically, the abruptness with which Acts ends suggests the unfinished task of worldwide evangelism. Luke wrote the Book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke and he dedicated his work to a man named Theophilus as mentioned in the summary of the book of Luke. Christian tradition has always held that it was James, the brother of Jesus, who was “bishop” of the community in Jerusalem (Acts 15, Gal 1) and was, according to the historian Josephus, executed in 62 C.E.  Together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament, the largest contribution attributed to a single author, providing the framework for both the Church's liturgical calendar and the historical outline into which later generations have fitted their idea of the story of Jesus and the early church. Personal catastrophe may have prevented Luke from finishing the book. The Acts of the Apostles (Koinē Greek: Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, Práxeis Apostólōn; Latin: Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire. , The death of Stephen initiates persecution, and many followers of Jesus leave Jerusalem. There is no way to settle the issue for certain, but most scholars agree that James the Lord’s brother is most likely to have been the author of the book of James. Luke wrote the book of Acts sometime in the early 60's a.d. Thus Paul is depicted as a moderating presence between the church and the Roman Empire. Luke was a companion of Paul on his missionary journeys, and in many parts of the book of Acts it says "we" did this or that (Acts 16:10-17:1; Acts 20:5-21:17; and Acts 27:2-28:31). - Acts 1:1-10 The Acts of the Apostles was written by a physician named Lucian (in English “Luke”). Who wrote the Fourth Gospel?  By and large the sources for Acts can only be guessed at, but the author would have had access to the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures), the Gospel of Mark, and either the hypothetical collection of "sayings of Jesus" called the Q source or the Gospel of Matthew. It was probably written in the early 60's, perhaps from Antioch, Rome or Ephesus. Enhance your school’s traditional and online education programs by easily integrating online courses developed from the scholars and textbooks you trust. If he did, the book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Perhaps Luke intended a third volume that would answer the lingering questions. Acts 1:1). Despite not having a convenient title page with a copyright date and the writers name, there are several reasons to be confident that Luke wrote the gospel that bears his name. Also available were written sources, such as the decree of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:23–29) and perhaps Aramaic or Hebrew documents relating the early events of Christianity in and around Jerusalem. o What is the name of the former book? o Where did the former book end? , Acts has two key structural principles. The message is taken to the Samaritans, a people rejected by Jews, and to the Gentiles. Acts continues the story of Christianity in the 1st century, beginning with the ascension of Jesus to Heaven.  On the one hand, Luke portrays the followers of Jesus as a sect of the Jews, and therefore entitled to legal protection as a recognised religion; on the other, Luke seems unclear as to the future God intends for Jews and Christians, celebrating the Jewishness of Jesus and his immediate followers while also stressing how the Jews had rejected God's promised Messiah. All Rights Reserved. Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven. The second key element is the roles of Peter and Paul, the first representing the Jewish Christian church, the second the mission to the Gentiles.. Why Did the Philippians Send Paul a Gift? This seems certain from the fact that Paul is imprisoned at the close of Acts awaiting the judgment of Caesar. These parallels continue through both books. Books and articles that equip you for deeply biblical thinking and ministry. But, it could be that Josephus, who published his work Antiquities in A.D. 93, used Luke as a reference. Unlike the writings of the apostle Paul, the books of Luke and Acts do not record the authors name.  He did not write in order to provide Theophilus with historical justification—"did it happen?  The first part, the Gospel of Luke, tells how God fulfilled his plan for the world's salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah. Just as his Gospel opens with a dedication to Theophilus, so also does Acts. The key personalities of Acts are Peter, Paul, John, James, Stephen, Barnabas, Timothy, Lydia, Silas, and Apollos.  The search for such inferred sources was popular in the 19th century, but by the mid-20th it had largely been abandoned. Rather, there are ways in which each may have considered having a relationship with the other rather advantageous to its own cause. The mid-19th-century scholar Ferdinand Baur suggested that the author had re-written history to present a united Peter and Paul and advance a single orthodoxy against the Marcionites (Marcion was a 2nd-century heretic who wished to cut Christianity off entirely from the Jews); Baur continues to have enormous influence, but today there is less interest in determining the historical accuracy of Acts (although this has never died out) than in understanding the author's theological program. There are also differences between Luke and Acts, amounting at times to outright contradiction. In this way Luke hopes to dispel prejudice against Christianity and win sympathy from the likes of Theophilus, whose designation “most excellent” in Luke 1:3 may indicate influential political position as well as aristocratic, or at least middle-class, social standing (compare the address, “most excellent Festus,” to a Roman governor in Acts 26:25). " The work also engages with the question of a Christian's proper relationship with the Roman Empire, the civil power of the day: could a Christian obey God and also Caesar? Later, Paul asserts his right as a Roman citizen, to be tried in Rome and is sent by sea to Rome, where he spends another two years under house arrest, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching freely about "the Lord Jesus Christ". Luke wrote the book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles) to record how believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit, worked to spread the Gospel of … A. Todd Penner is the author of numerous essays on the Acts of the Apostles, including the book In Praise of Christian Origins: Stephen and the Hellenists in Lukan Apologetic Historiography (Bloomsbury, 2004). For the literature genre, see, "Acts" redirects here. Please check errors and resubmit.  This theme is introduced in Chapter 4 of the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus, rejected in Nazareth, recalls that the prophets were rejected by Israel and accepted by Gentiles; at the end of the gospel he commands his disciples to preach his message to all nations, "beginning from Jerusalem." You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. Surely it would have been irrelevant for Luke to prove the political innocence of Christianity, as he does throughout the book, if he were writing after Nero had turned against Christians (AD 64). He was a Greek and the only Gentile Christian writer of the New Testament. This accuracy is doubly remarkable in that the use of these terms was in a constant state of flux because the political status of various communities was constantly changing. For example, the gospel seems to place the Ascension on Easter Sunday, immediately after the Resurrection, while Acts 1 puts it forty days later. The earliest date for the book of Acts is the two year imprisonment which is recorded in Acts Furthermore, Acts does not include any account of a struggle between Christians and the Roman government as a result of the latter's imperial cult. But ultimately, we do not have a conclusive answer to who wrote this book. " He was educated, a man of means, probably urban, and someone who respected manual work, although not a worker himself; this is significant, because more high-brow writers of the time looked down on the artisans and small business people who made up the early church of Paul and were presumably Luke's audience. In Acts, too, Luke shows that disturbances over Christianity arose from the violence of mobs and from false accusations, often by unbelieving Jews, not through any misdeeds of the Christians themselves. Also favoring an early date is the lack of allusions to the Neronic persecution, to the martyrdom of James the Lord’s brother, again in the 60s, and to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. There are also agreements on many incidents, such as Paul's escape from Damascus, where he is lowered down the walls in a basket. The Spirit is "poured out" at Pentecost on the first Samaritan and Gentile believers and on disciples who had been baptised only by John the Baptist, each time as a sign of God's approval. Why do we need to do this? , The title "Acts of the Apostles" was first used by Irenaeus in the late 2nd century. For other uses, see, Title, unity of Luke – Acts, authorship and date, Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles, The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Textual variants in the Acts of the Apostles, "The Synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles: Telling the Christian Story", "Luke–Acts and the Imperial Cult: A Way through the Conundrum?". In Luke the narrative progressed to Jerusalem, the center of Judaism. Therefore, it is reasonable to include Luke's purpose for Acts as falling under his purpose for the book of Luke.  According to Church tradition dating from the 2nd century, the author was the "Luke" named as a companion of the apostle Paul in three of the letters attributed to Paul himself; this view is still sometimes advanced, but "a critical consensus emphasizes the countless contradictions between the account in Acts and the authentic Pauline letters. It is possible that both Josephus and Luke used a common source. Both Luke’s gospel and the Book of Acts vividly display times, events, and names with an extraordinary precision that makes many declare Luke one of history’s greatest historians.  The majority of scholars prefer the Alexandrian (shorter) text-type over the Western as the more authentic, but this same argument would favour the Western over the Alexandrian for the Gospel of Luke, as in that case the Western version is the shorter; the debate therefore continues. Luke-Acts; cf. These parallels can hardly have arisen by chance; and no other evidence exists to indicate that Luke imitated or used in any other way the letters, or that Peter and Paul imitated Acts when writing their letters. , The mission to the Gentiles is promoted from Antioch and confirmed at a meeting in Jerusalem between Paul and the leadership of the Jerusalem church. " (An example can be seen by comparing Acts's accounts of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1–31, 22:6–21, and 26:9–23) with Paul's own statement that he remained unknown to Christians in Judea after that event (Galatians 1:17–24). But it is already long enough to fill a lengthy papyrus scroll. By such processes of elimination Luke remains the only likely candidate for the authorship of Acts. "—but to encourage faith—"what happened, and what does it all mean? Who Wrote the Book of Acts? Luke the Physician was the author of Luke-Acts. For the past few weeks, we have investigated the authors of the Gospels and the book of Acts. The title, κύριος, was often ascribed to the Roman emperor in antiquity, rendering its use by Luke as an appellation for Jesus an unsubtle challenge to the emperor's authority. So, Luke doesn’t stand out as the only person who was left behind. What the early church began, the later church is to finish. , For Luke, the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind the spread of the Christian message, and he places more emphasis on it than do any of the other evangelists. One of the reasons why Paul wrote Philippians was to thank them for supporting his ministry—not just in prayer, but with... Get expert commentary on biblical languages, fresh explorations in theology, hand-picked book excerpts, author videos, and info on limited-time sales. They then proceed to do so, in the order outlined: first Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, then the entire (Roman) world.  Other sources can only be inferred from internal evidence—the traditional explanation of the three "we" passages, for example, is that they represent eyewitness accounts. Maybe Luke came to the end of his papyrus scroll.  Luke's theology is expressed primarily through his overarching plot, the way scenes, themes and characters combine to construct his specific worldview. On a visit to Jerusalem he is set on by a Jewish mob. Copyright © 2020 HarperCollins Publishers. The following post is adapted from Robert H. Gundry’s online course, New Testament Survey. Irenaeus (c. 130-202) writes, “Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.”  Luke–Acts can also be seen as a defense of (or "apology" for) the Jesus movement addressed to the Jews: the bulk of the speeches and sermons in Acts are addressed to Jewish audiences, with the Romans serving as external arbiters on disputes concerning Jewish customs and law. Saved by the Roman commander, he is accused by the Jews of being a revolutionary, the "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes", and imprisoned. Because Acts and Luke go together, we need to look at when Luke was written. o What was the content of the former book? 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