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Luke’s Preface – Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1
Issues raised in his preface
1 The Title of The Acts
The Acts of the Holy Spirit
The Kingdom of God
2 The Aim of The Acts
An orderly account of the origins and early spread of Christianity
An apologetic emphasis: Christianity was not politically dangerous
A reconciliation of Gentile and Jewish Christianity
An answer to Jewish opposition
A statement of the work of the Risen Lord by His Spirit through the Church
3 The Author of The Acts
Principal reasons supporting Lukan authorship:
1 Acts is by the same author as the Gospel of Luke
2 Similar style and vocabulary
3 Use of medical term in Acts
4 Luke was a companion of Paul
5 The “we-sections” in Acts suggest Luke
6 Luke’s name is missing: another would refer to him
7 Luke with Paul in Rome, where he could have completed the book.
8. Luke, the man: Gentile; physician, historian, spiritual
Two others theories regarding authorship
4 The Date of The Acts
Arguments favouring an early date, especially in the 60s
1 Conclusion of the story before the death of Paul
2. Luke’s two years in Rome would allow him to complete the work
3 The vivid descriptions of the “we-sections” suggests immediate recording
4 Details regarding Caesarea would have been collected or recorded early
5 No mention of the devastation of Jerusalem in 70 AD
6 No reference to Paul’s letters
Arguments favouring a date about 75-85
1 Passages in Luke’s gospel which preceded the Acts
2 Synoptic issues affecting Luke’s earlier work
Arguments favouring a later date, about 95–100 AD
Luke may have used Josephus’ history published about 93 AD
5 The Sources of The Acts
1 The historical sections:
records in Jerusalem and Antioch
2 The biographical sections:
6 The Setting of The Acts
Alexander’s conquests – a cosmopolitan society
The spread and use of the Koiné Greek – a common language
Stable world government
The Roman Peace
The System of Roads
The Slave Economy
The Jews :
Herod and his sons
The Roman Procurators: Pilate, Felix and Festus
The Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees
The Jews of the Dispersion
Paul in this setting.
7 The Contents of The Acts
Historical and Biographical
Preparation for the witness (1:1-26)
The witness in Jerusalem (2:1 – 8:3)
The witness in Judea and Samaria (8:4 – 12:25)
The witness to Jews and Gentiles (13:1 – 28:31)
A Comparison and General Summary
An accurate history
Luke’s closing sentences
Translations of Acts 1:1-9
Good News Bible
Today’s New International Version
J B Phillips Translation
The Amplified Bible
Buk Baibel (PNG)
Inter-linear Greek-English New Testament
Renewal Journals and Books
Luke and The Acts are two volumes of one astounding history – the story of Jesus and his church. Luke, “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), often travelled with Paul in their pioneering missionary journeys. Luke gives us a concise preface in the beginning of his writings, and then introduces the second part of his story with a short introduction linking the two.
Luke’s own preface reads: “The Author to Theophilus: Many writers have undertaken to draw up an account of the events that have happened among us, following the traditions handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses and servants of the Gospel. And so I in my turn, your Excellency, as one who has gone over the whole course of these events in detail, have decided to write a connected narrative for you, so as to give you authentic knowledge about the matters of which you have been informed” (Luke 1:1-4, New English Bible).
Continuing his connected narrative, he commences part two with a sentence linking both: “In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen, He was taken up into heaven” (Acts 1:1-2, NEB).
In his preface to the combined work, the author:
* revealed his subject – the Word;
* gave the sources of his information – eyewitnesses and ministers;
* described his method – accurate tracing of the course of all things, writing them in order;
* and declared the purpose – that of giving certainty to Theophilus (Morgan, p.7).
So here in my book we explore these issues mentioned by Luke himself, and examine the title, aim, author, date, sources, setting, and contents of The Acts of the Apostles.
What a great story! Luke traces the amazing growth of Jesus’ church from its beginnings in Jerusalem to its impact throughout the Roman Empire.
That story continues today. We are part of it. The God they worshipped is our God. The Lord they served is our Lord. The Holy Spirit they obeyed is in and with us.
This story of the Acts of the Holy Spirit continues today through the same Spirit of God. It fulfils Jesus’ last promise: You will receive power then the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Dr Geoff Waugh is the founding editor of the Renewal Journal and taught Ministry and Mission and Revivals at Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia.
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