The book of Acts (Acts 1)

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Extrabiblical evidence and clues from the book itself suggest that Acts was written by the physician Luke, the travelling companion of Paul and the author of the Gospel of Luke. The date of writing has been debated, but A.D. 63-70 is thr probable range, with an early date being the more likely. Although the place of writing is unknown, some have suggested Rome.

Like the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts was originally addressed to an individual named Theophilus (Acts 1:1), but it was clearly intended for all believers.

As a historical account of Christianity’s origins, Acts records the relations between the church and the Roman empire. It describes the founding of the church and the spread of the gospel throughout the known world. Luke’s account covers a period of about 30 years and reaches from Jerusalem to Rome – and archaeological findings reveal that in each instance Luke used the proper terms for the time and place being described.

At a time when the church was facing growing suspicion from both the Roman authorities and the Jewish establishment, Luke demonstrated that the riots and disorders that followed Paul were not Paul’s doing; in fact, on several occasions Paul was either exonerated by Roman officials or determined not to be a person of interest.

Although the first 12 chapters concentrate mainly on the apostle Peter, it would appear that Luke wrote Acts primarily as a vindication of the life and theology of Paul. The book describes his conversion; follows him in his missionary journeys; testifies to miracles he performed; gives accounts of conversions brought about by his preaching; describes how Gentiles were moved to turn from idols; shows that believers in churches around the world received him as a messenger from God; and, above all, provides accounts of the beatings, imprisonments, dangers and abuses he endured for the sake of Christ.

As you read, note the adversities and struggles of the early church. Be encouraged and inspired by the enthusiasm that carried the gospel across ethnic and national boundaries, remembering that the same Spirit operating in Acts is at work in the church today.

Did you know that “the way” as an early name for Christianity occurs several times in Acts (e.g. 9:2)? Did you know that if a prisoner escaped, the life of the guard was demanded in his place (16:27)? Did you know that blasphemy was the gravest accusation for a Jew, but treason – support of a rival king above Caesar – was the worst possible accusation against a Roman (17:7)? Did you know that inscriptions in Greek and Latin on stone slabs (two of which have been discovered by archaeologists) were placed on the barrier between the inner and outer temple courts, warning Gentiles of death penalty for proceeding further (21:28)? Did you know that the Romans considered sailing after September 15th doubtful and after November 11th suicidal (27:9)?


 

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