Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Introduction to Acts!

If you are looking for Tuesday February 9ths Bible reading please look below.

Throughout the year we will begin many new books of the Bible. With each new book I will try to provide you with some information concerning the background of the book. That background will typically be: Purpose, Author, and Date of the book.

The Purpose
There are several reasons this book may have been written. The author … Luke … states in the opening verses of his previous book … The Gospel of Luke … that he wanted to provide “an orderly account for you.” Many see the book of Acts as a continuation of the book of Luke. Thus you would have an account beginning at the announcement of the birth of Christ, traveling through his ministry to his death and resurrection. The second book picks up with the beginning of the church and then highlights the spread of the church … beginning in Jerusalem and going to the outer ends of the world.

Many also believe that Luke was also putting together a defense for the Apostles Paul. At the end of Acts Paul is on house arrest awaiting trial before Caesar. Some argue that Luke has researched all this information to present to Caesar to show what Christianity was and how it spread.

Both of these reasons present us a work that gives us insight into the beginning and growth of the church. Without Acts we would have not know about Pentecost or have information of conversion to Chrisitanity. Without Acts we would have no record of the early Christian church.

The Author
The book of Acts provides for us internal evidence as to who the author is. No where in the book does the author identify himself. It does indicate that whoever wrote the third gospel also wrote Acts. We can also see that the style and language indicates one author for both books. Within the book we see passages that indicate the author is personally familiar with what he describes. The author is also present in several places as indicated by the usage of “we.” (15:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16). Paul identifies Luke as one of his companions on several occasions … Philemon 23-23 & Colossians 4:10-17, we also learn here that Luke is a Doctor. Throughout his writing we see that many technical terms are used.

While the book itself points to authorship of Luke, externally there is evidence that credits him as author. Some early Christian writers give Luke credit for writing the third gospel. Since they are of the same author we can take liberty and assign him credit for Acts. But we do not have to stop there. Other early church fathers and writers, men like Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Jerome, speak directly of Luke as author. Thus the case can be closed; Luke is the author of Acts.

Date of the Book
Dating the book is directly linked to authorship. If Luke wrote Acts, it had to be in the first Century. This is especially true if Luke is a contemporary of Paul. Acts would have been written after his gospel, which tends to be dated around 60 AD. Thus a date of 63 AD is very likely.

There could be a chance the book was written later than that. Is the imprisonment of Paul that is described in the closing verses the one where he is martyred? If so, tradition tells us Paul was killed around 67/68 AD. This would allow Acts to be penned after Paul’s death, and could allow writing in the 70’s or 80’s. However, many scholars believe the imprisonment described was not his final Roman imprisonment. Thus we believe 63 AD. to be a very good date for the book of Acts.
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