The meaning of Acts Of The Apostles, 8-12 in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
VIII. The Speeches in Acts.
This matter is important enough to receive separate treatment. Are the numerous speeches reported in Acts free compositions of Luke made to order a la Thucydides? Are they verbatim reports from notes taken at the times and literally copied into the narrative? Are they substantial reports incorporated with more or less freedom with marks of Luke's own style? In the abstract either of these methods was possible. The example of Thucydides, Xenophon, Livy and Josephus shows that ancient historians did not scruple to invent speeches of which no report was available. There are not wanting those who accuse Luke of this very thing in Acts. The matter can only be settled by an appeal to the facts so far as they can be determined. It cannot be denied that to a certain extent the hand of Luke is apparent in the addresses reported by him in Acts. But this fact must not be pressed too far. It is not true that the addresses are all alike in style. It is possible to distinguish very clearly the speeches of Peter from those of Paul. Not merely is this true, but we are able to compare the addresses of both Paul and Peter with their epistles. It is not probable that Luke had seen these epistles, as will presently be shown. It is crediting remarkable literary skill to Luke to suppose that he made up "Petrine" speeches and "Pauline" speeches with such success that they harmonize beautifully with the teachings and general style of each of these apostles. The address of Stephen differs also sharply from those of Peter and Paul, though we are not able to compare this report with any original work by Stephen himself. Another thing is true also, particularly of Paul's sermons. They are wonderfully stated to time, place and audience. They all have a distract Pauline flavor, and yet a difference in local color that corresponds, to some extent, with the variations in the style of Paul's epistles. Professor Percy Gardner (The Speeches of Paul in Acts, in Cambridge Biblical Essays, 1909) recognizes these differences, but seeks to explain them on the ground of varying accuracy in the sources used by Luke, counting the speech at Miletus as the most historic of all. But he admits the use of sources by Luke for these addresses. The theory of pure invention by Luke is quite discredited by appeal to the facts. On the other hand, in view of the apparent presence of Luke's style to some extent in the speeches, it can hardly be claimed that he has made verbatim reports. Besides, the report of the addresses of Jesus in Luke's Gospel (as in the other gospels) shows the same freedom in giving the substance exact reproduction of the words that is found in Acts. Again, it seems clear that some, if not all, the reports in Acts are condensed, mere outlines in the case of some of Peter's addresses. The ancients knew how to make shorthand reports of such addresses. The oral tradition was probably active in preserving the early speeches of Peter and even of Stephen, though Paul himself heard Stephen. The speeches of Paul all show the marks of an eyewitness (Bethge, Die paulinischen Reden, etc., 174). For the speeches of Peter, Luke may have had documents, or he may have taken down the current oral tradition while he was in Jerusalem and Caesarea. Peter probably spoke in Greek on the day of Pentecost. His other addresses may have been in Aramaic or in Greek. But the oral tradition would certainly carry them in Greek, if also in Aramaic. Luke heard Paul speak at Miletus (Acts 20) and may have taken notes at the time. So also he almost certainly heard Paul's address on the steps of the Tower of Antonia (Acts 22) and that before Agrippa (Acts 26). There is no reason to think that he was absent when Paul made his defenses before Felix and Festus (Acts 24 through 25) He was present on the ship when Paul spoke (Acts 27), and in Rome when he addressed the Jews (Acts 28) Luke was not on hand when Paul delivered his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13), or at Lystra (Acts 14), or at Athens (Acts 17) But these discourses differ so greatly in theme and treatment, and are so essentially Pauline that it is natural to think that Paul himself gave Luke the notes which he used. The sermon at Antioch in Pisidia is probably given as a sample of Paul's missionary discourses. It contains the heart of Paul's gospel as it appears in his epistles. He accentuates the death and resurrection of Jesus, remission of sins through Christ, justification by faith. It is sometimes objected that at Athens the address shows a breadth of view and sympathy unknown to Paul, and that there is a curious Attic tone to the Greek style. The sermon does go as far as Paul can (compare I Corinthians 9:22) toward the standpoint of the Greeks (but compare Col. and Eph). However, Paul does not sacrifice his principle of grace in Christ. He called the Athenians to repentance, preached the judgment for sin and announced the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man here taught did not mean that God yanked at sin and could save all men without repentance and forgiveness of sin. Chase (The Credibility of Acts) gives a collection of Paul's missionary addresses. The historical reality and value of the speeches in Acts may be said to be vindicated by modern scholarship. For a sympathetic and scholarly discussion of all of Paul's addresses see Jones, Paul the Orator (1910). The short speech of Tertullus (Acts 24) was made in public, as was the public statement of Festus in Acts 26. The letter of Claudias Lysias to Felix in Acts 23 was a public document. How Luke got hold of the conversation about Paul between Festus and Agrippa in Acts 26 is more difficult to conjecture.
IX. Relation of Acts to the Epistles.
There is no real evidence that Luke made use of any of Paul's epistles. He was with Paul in Rome when Col. was written (Colossians 4:14), and may, indeed, have been Paul's amanuensis for this epistle (and for Eph. and Philem). Some similarities to Luke's style have been pointed out. But Acts closes without any narrative of the events in Rome during the years there, so that these epistles exerted no influence on the composition of the book. As to the two preceding groups of Paul's epistles (1 and 2 Thess, 1 and 2 Cor, Gal, Roman) there is no proof that Luke saw any of them. The Epistle to the Romans was probably accessible to into while in Rome, but he does not seem to have used it. Luke evidently preferred to appeal to Paul directly for information rather than to his epistles. This is all simple enough if he wrote the book or made his data while Paul was alive. But if Acts was written very late, it would be strange for the author not to have made use of some of Paul's epistles. The book has, therefore, the great advantage of covering some of the same ground as that discussed in the earlier epistles, but from a thoroughly independent stand-point. The gaps in our knowledge from the one source are often supplied incidentally, but most satisfactorily, from the other. The coincidences between Acts and Paul's epistles have been well traced by Paley in his Horae Paulinae, still a book of much value. Knowling, in his Witness of the Epistles (1892), has made a more recent study of the same problem. But for the apparent conflict between Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15 the matter might be dropped at this point. It is argued by some that Acts, written long after Gal, brushes to one side the account of the Jerusalem conference given by Paul. It is held that Paul is correct in his personal record, and that Acts is therefore unhistorical Others save the credit of Acts by arguing that Paul is referring to an earlier private conference some years before the public discussion recorded in Acts 15. This is, of course, possible in itself, but it is by no means required by the variations between the two reports. The contention of Lightfoot has never been really overturned, that in Galatians 2:1-10 Paul gives the personal side of the conference, not a full report of the general meeting. What Paul is doing is to show the Galatians how he is on a par with the Jerusalem apostles, and how his authority and independence were acknowledged by them. This aspect of the matter came out in the private conference. Paul is not in Galatians 2:1-10 setting forth his victory over the Judaizers in behalf of Gentile freedom. But in Acts 15 it is precisely this struggle for Gentile freedom that is under discussion. Paul's relations with the Jerusalem apostles is not the point at all, though it in plain in Acts that they agree. In Galatians also Paul's victory for Gentile freedom comes out. Indeed, in Acts 15 it is twice mentioned that the apostles and elders were gathered together (Acts 15:4, Acts 15:6), and twice we are told that Paul and Barnabas addressed them (Acts 15:4, Acts 15:12). It is therefore natural to suppose that this private conference narrated by Paul in Galatians came in between Galatians 2:5 and Galatians 2:6. Luke may not, indeed, have seen the Epistle to the Galatians, and may not have heard from Paul the story of the private conference, though he knew of the two public meetings. If he did know of the private meeting, he thought it not pertinent to his narration. There is, of course, no contradiction between Paul's going up by revelation and by the appointment of the church in Antioch. In Galatians 2:1 we have the second (Galatians 1:18) visit to Jerusalem after his conversion mentioned by Paul, while that in Acts 15 is the third in Acts (Acts 9:28; Acts 11:29 f.; Acts 15:2). But there was no particular reason for Paul to mention the visit in Acts 11:30, which did not concern his relation to the apostles in Jerusalem. Indeed, only the "elders" are mentioned on this occasion. The same independence between Acts and Gal. occurs in Galatians 1:17-24, and Acts 9:26-30. In Acts there is no allusion to the visit to Arabia, just as there is no mention of the private conference in Acts 15. So also in Acts 15:35-39 there is no mention of the sharp disagreement between Paul and Peter at Antioch recorded in Galatians 2:11 ff. Paul mentions it merely to prove his own authority and independence as an apostle. Luke had no occasion to record the incident, if he was acquainted with the matter. These instances illustrate well how, when the Acts and the epistles vary, they really supplement each other.
X. Chronology of Acts.
Here we confront one of the most perplexing questions in New Testament criticism. In general, ancient writers were not so careful as modern writers are to give precise dates for historical events. Indeed, it was not easy to do so in view of the absence of a uniform method of reckoning times. Luke does, however, relate his narrative to outward events at various points. In his Gospel he had linked the birth of Jesus with the names of Augustus as emperor and of Quirinius as governor of Syria (Luke 2:1 f.), and the entrance of John the Baptist upon his ministry with the names of the chief Roman and Jewish rulers of the time (Luke 3:1 f.) So also in the Acts he does not leave us without various notes of times. He does not, indeed, give the date of the Ascension or of the Crucifixion, though he places the Ascension forty days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3), and the great Day of Pentecost would then come ten days later, "not many days hence" (Acts 1:5) But the other events in the opening chapters of Acts have no clear chronological arrangement. The career of Stephen is merely located "in these days" (Acts 6:1). The beginning of the general persecution under Saul is located on the very day of Stephen's death (Acts 8:1), but the year is not even hinted at. The conversion of Saul comes probably in its chronological order in Acts 9, but the year again is not given. We have no hint as to the age of Saul at his conversion. So again the relation of Peter's work in Caesarea (10) to the preaching to the Greeks in Antioch (11) is not made clear, though probably in this order. It is only when we come to Acts 12 that we reach an event whose date is reasonably certain. This is the death of Herod Agrippa I in 44 AD. But even so, Luke does not correlate the life of Paul with that incident. Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveler, 49) places the persecution and death of James in 44, and the visit of Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem in 46. About 44, then, we may consider that Saul came to Antioch from Tarsus. The "fourteen years" in Galatians 2:1 as already shown probably point to the visit in Acts 15 some years later. But Saul had been in Tarsus some years and had spent some three years in Arabia and Damascus after his conversion (Galatians 1:18). Beyond this it is not possible to go. We do not know the age of Saul in 44 AD or the year of his conversion. He was probably born not far from 1 AD. But if we locate Paul at Antioch with Barnabas in 44 AD, we can make some headway. Here Paul spent a year (Acts 11:26). The visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11, the first missionary tour in 13 and 14, the conference at Jerusalem in 15, the second missionary tour in 16 through 18, the third missionary tour and return to Jerusalem in 18 through 21, the arrest in Jerusalem and two years in Caesarea in 21 through 26, all come between 44 AD and the recall of Felix and the coming of Festus. It used to be taken for granted that Festus came in 60 AD. Wieseler figured it out so from Josephus and was followed by Lightfoot. But Eusebius, in his "Chronicle," placed that event in the second year of Nero. That would be 56, unless Eusebius has a special way of counting those years Mr. C. H Turner (art. "Chronology" in HDB) finds that Eusebius counts an emperor's regnal year from the September following. If so, the date could be moved forward to 57 (compare Rackham on Acts, lxvi). But Ramsay (chapter xiv, "Pauline Chronology," in Pauline and Other Studies) cuts the Gordian knot by showing an error in Eusebius due to his disregarding an interregnum with the reign of Mugs Ramsay here follows Erbes (Todestage Pauli und Pertri in this discovery and is able to fix upon 59 as the date of the coming of Festus. Probably 59 will have to answer as a compromise date. Between 44 AD and 59 AD, therefore, we place the bulk of Paul's active missionary work. Luke has divided this period into minor divisions with relative dates. Thus a year and six months are mentioned at Corinth (Acts 18:11), besides "yet many days" (Acts 18:18). In Ephesus we find mention of "three months" (Acts 19:8) and "two years" (Acts 19:10), the whole story summed up as "three years" (Acts 20:31) Then we have the "two years" of delay in Caesarea (Acts 24:27). We thus have about seven of these fifteen years itemized. Much of the remaining eight was spent in the journeys described by Luke. We are told also the times of year when the voyage to Rome was under way (Acts 27:9), the length of the voyage (Acts 27:27), the duration of the stay in Melita (Acts 28:11), and the times spent in Rome at the close of the book, "two whole years" (Acts 28:30). Thus it is possible to fix upon a relative schedule of dates, though not an absolute one. Harnack (The Acts of the Apostles, chapter i, "Chronological Data") has worked out a very careful scheme for the whole of Acts. Knowling has a good critical resume of the present state of our knowledge of the chronology of Acts in his Commentary, 38 ff., compare also Clemen, Die Chronologie der paulinischen Briefe (1893). It is clear, then, that a rational scheme for events of Paul's career so far as recorded in the Acts can be found. If 57 AD, for instance, should be taken as the year of Festus coming rather than 59 or 60 AD, the other dates back to 44 AD would, of course, be affected on a sliding scale. Back of 44 AD the dates are largely conjectural.
XI. Historical Worth of Acts.
It was once fashionable to discredit Acts as a book of no real value as history. The Tubingen school regarded Acts as "a late controversial romance, the only historical value of which was to throw light on the thought of the period which produced it" (Chase, The Credibility of Acts, 9). There are not wanting a few writers who still regard Acts as a late eirenicon between the Peter and Paul parties, or as a party pamphlet in the interest of Paul. Somewhat fanciful parallels are found between Luke's treatment of both Peter and Paul "According to Holtzmann, the strongest argument for the critical position is the correspondence between the acts of Peter and the other apostles on the one rode and those of Paul on the other" (Headlam in HDB). But this matter seems rather far fetched. Peter is the leading figure in the early chapters, as Paul is in the latter half of the book, but the correspondences are not remarkably striking. There exists in some minds a prejudice against the book on the ground of the miracles recorded as genuine events by Luke. But Paul himself claimed to have wrought miracles (II Corinthians 12:12). It is not scientific to rule a book out beforehand because it narrates miracles (Blass, Acta Apostolorum, 8). Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveler, 8) tells his experience in regard to the trustworthiness of Acts: "I began with a mind unfavorable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me." It was by actual verification of Acts in points where it could be tested by inscriptions, Paul's epistles, or current non-Christian writers, that "it was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth." He concludes by "placing this great writer on the high pedestal that belongs to him" (10). McGiffert (The Apostolic Age) had been compelled by the geographical and historical evidence to abandon in part the older criticism. He also admitted that the Acts "is more trustworthy than previous critics allowed" (Ramsay, Luke the Physician, 5). Schmiedel (Encyclopedia Biblica) still argues that the writer of Acts is inaccurate because he was not in possession of full information. But on the whole Acts has had a triumphant vindicatioin in modern criticism. Julicher (Einl, 355) admits "a genuine core overgrown with legendary accretions" (Chase, Credibility, 9). The moral honesty of Luke, his fidelity to truth (Rackham on Acts, 46), is clearly shown in both his Gospel and the Acts. This, after all, is the chief trait in the true historian (Ramsay, Paul the Traveler, 4). Luke writes as a man of serious purpose and is the one New Testament writer who mentions his careful use of his materials (Luke 1:1-4). His attitude and spent are those of the historian. He reveals artistic skill, it is true, but not to the discredit of his record. He does not give a bare chronicle, but he writes a real history, an interpretation of the events recorded. He had adequate resources in the way of materials and endowment and has made conscientious and skillful use of his opportunity. It is not necessary here to give in detail all the points in which Luke has been vindicated (see Knowling on Acts, Ramsay's books and Harnack's Luke and Acts). The most obvious are the following: The use of "proconsul" instead of "propraetor" in Acts 13:7 is a striking instance. Curiously enough Cyprus was not a senatorial province very long. An inscription has been found in Cyprus "in the proconsulship of Paulus." The 'first men' of Antioch in Pisidia is like the (Acts 13:50) "First Ten," a title which "was only given (as here) to a board of magistrates in Greek cities of the East" (MacLean in one-vol HDB). The "priest of Jupiter" at Lystra (Acts 14:13) is in accord with the known facts of the worship there. So we have Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13), Antioch in Pisidia Acts 13:14), Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia (Acts 14:6), but not Iconium (Acts 14:1). In Philippi Luke notes that the magistrates are called strategoi or praetors (Acts 16:20), and are accompanied by lictors or rhabdouchoi (Acts 16:35). In Thessalonica the rulers are "politarchs" (Acts 17:6), a title found nowhere else, but now discovered on an inscription of Thessalonica. He rightly speaks of the Court of the Areopagus at Athens (Acts 17:19) and the proconsul in Achaia (Acts 18:12). Though Athens was a free city, the Court of the Areopagus at the times were the real rulers. Achaia was sometimes associated with Macedonia, though at this time it was a separate senatorial province. In Ephesus Luke knows of the "Asiarchs" (Acts 19:31), "the presidents of the 'Common Council' of the province in cities where there was a temple of Rome and the Emperor; they superintended the worship of the Emperor" (Maclean). Note also the fact that Ephesus is "temple-keeper of the great Diana" (Acts 19:35). Then observe the town clerk (Acts 19:35), and the assembly (Acts 19:39). Note also the title of Felix, "governor" or procurator (Acts 24:1), Agrippa the king (Acts 25:13), Julius the centurion and the Augustan band (Acts 27:1). Acts 27 is a marvel of interest and accuracy for all who wish to know details of ancient seafaring. The matter has been worked over in a masterful way by James Smith, Voyage and Shipwreck of Paul. The title "First Man of the Island" (Acts 28:7) is now found on a coin of Melita. These are by no means all the matters of interest, but they will suffice. In most of the items given above Luke's veracity was once challenged, but now he has been triumphantly vindicated. The force of this vindication is best appreciated when one recalls the incidental nature of the items mentioned. They come from widely scattered districts and are just the points where in strange regions it is so easy to make slips. If space allowed, the matter could be set forth in more detail and with more justice to Luke's worth as a historian. It is true that in the earlier portions of the Acts we are not able to find so many geographical and historical corroborations. But the nature of the material did not call for the mention of so many places and persons. In the latter part Luke does not hesitate to record miraculous events also. His character as a historian is firmly established by the passages where outside contact has been found. We cannot refuse him a good name in the rest of the book, though the value of the sources used certainly cuts a figure. It has been urged that Luke breaks down as a historian in the double mention of Quirinius in Luke 2:2 and Acts 5:37. But Ramsay (Was Christ Born at Bethlehem?) has shown how the new knowledge of the census system of Augustus derived from the Egypt papyri is about to clear up this difficulty. Luke's general accuracy at least calls for suspense of judgment, and in the matter of Theudas and Judas the Galilean (Acts 5) Luke as compared with Josephus outclasses his rival. Harnack (The Acts of the Apostles, 203-29) gives in his usual painstaking way a number of examples of "inaccuracy and discrepancy" But the great bulk of them are merely examples of independence in narration (compare Acts 9 with 22 and 26, where we have three reports of Paul's conversion). Harnack did not, indeed, once place as high a value on Luke as a historian as he now does. It is all the more significant, therefore, to read the following in Harnack's The Acts of the Apostles (298 f.): "The book has now been restored to the position of credit which is its rightful due. It is not only, taken as a whole, a genuinely historical work, but even in the majority of its details it is trustworthy 6 ..... Judged from almost every possible standpoint of historical criticism it is a solid, respectable, and in many respects an extraordinary work." That is, in my opinion, an understatement of the facts (see Ramsay), but it is a remarkable conclusion concerning the trustworthiness of Luke when one considers the distance that Harnack has come. At any rate the prejudice against Luke is rapidly disappearing. The judgment of the future is forecast by Ramsay, who ranks Luke as a historian of the first order.
XII. Purpose of the Book.
A great deal of discussion has been given to Luke's aim in the Acts. Baur's theory was that this book was written to give a conciliatory view of the conflict between Peter and Paul, and that a minute parallelism exists in the Acts between these two heroes. This tendency theory once held the critical field, but it does not take into view all the facts, and fails to explain the book as a whole. Peter and Paul are the heroes of the book as they undoubtedly were the two chief personalities in apostolic history (compare Wendt, Apostelgeschichte, 17). There is some parallelism between the careers of the two men (compare the worship offered Peter at Caesarea in Acts 10:25, and that to Paul in Acts 14:11; see also the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira and that of Elymas). But Knowling (Acts, 16) well replies that curiously no use is made of the death of both Peter and Paul in Rome, possibly at the same time. If the Acts was written late, this matter would be open to the knowledge of the writer. There is in truth no real effort on Luke's part to paint Paul like Peter or Peter like Paul. The few similarities in incident are merely natural historical parallels. Others have seen in the Acts a strong purpose to conciliate Gentile(pagan) opinion in the fact that the Roman governors and military officers are so uniformly presented as favorable to Paul, while the Jews are represented as the real aggressors against Christianity (compare Josephus' attitude toward Rome). Here again the fact is beyond dispute. But the other explanation is the more natural, namely, that Luke brings out this aspect of the matter because it was the truth. Compare B. Weiss, Einl, 569. Luke does have an eye on the world relations of Christianity and rightly reflects Paul's ambition to win the Roman Empire to Christ (see Rom. 15), but that is not to say that he has given the book a political bias or colored it so as to deprive it of its historical worth. It is probably true (compare Knowling, Acts, 15; J. Weiss, Ueber die Absicht und den literarischen Charakter der Apostelgeschichte) that Luke felt, as did Paul, that Jusaism realized its world destiny in Christianity, that Christianity was the true Judaism, the spiritual and real Israel. If Luke wrote Acts in Rome, while Paul's case was still before Nero, it is easy to understand the somewhat long and minute account of the arrest and trials of Paul in Jerusalem, Caesarea and Rome. The point would be that the legal aspect of Christianity before Roman laws was involved. Hitherto Christianity had found shelter as a sect of Judaism, and so was passed by Gallio in Corinth as a religio licita. If Paul was condemned as a Christian, the whole aspect of the matter would be altered. Christianity would at once become religio illicita. The last word in the Acts comments on the fact that Paul, though still a prisoner, was permitted to preach unhindered. The importance of this point is clearly seen as one pushes on to the Neronian persecution in 64. After that date Christianity stood apart from Judaism in the eye of Rome. I have already stated my belief that Luke closed the Acts when he did and as he did because the events with Paul had only gone thus far. Numerous scholars hold that Luke had in mind a third book (Acts 1:1), a possible though by no means necessary inference from "first treatise." It was a climax to carry the narrative on to Rome with Paul, but it is rather straining the point to find all this in Acts 1:8. Rome was not "the nethermost part of the earth," Spain more nearly being that. Nor did Paul take the gospel to Rome. Besides, to make the arrival of Paul in Rome the goal in the mind of Christ is too narrowing a purpose. The purpose to go to Rome did dominate Paul's mind for several years (Acts 19:21), but Paul cuts no figure in the early part of the book. And Paul wished to push on from Rome to Spain (Romans 15:24). It is probably true that Luke means to announce his purpose in Acts 1:1-8. One needs to keep in mind also Luke 1:1-4. There are various ways of writing history. Luke chooses the biographical method in Acts. Thus he conceives that he can best set forth the tremendous task of interpreting the first thirty years of the apostolic history. It is around persons (compare Harnack, The Acts of the Apostles, 117), two great figures (Peter and Paul), that the narrative is focused. Peter is most prominent in Acts 1 through 12, Paul in 13 through 28. Still Paul's conversion is told in Acts 9 and Peter reappears in Acts 15. But these great personages do not stand alone. John the Apostle is certainly with Peter in the opening chapters. The other apostles are mentioned also by name (Acts 1:13) and a number of times in the first twelve chapters (and in Acts 15). But after Acts 15 they drop out of the narrative, for Luke follows the fortunes of Paul. The other chief secondary figures in Acts are Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, James, Apollos, all Hellenists save James (Harnack, 120). The minor characters are numerous (John, Mark, Silas, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla, Aristarchus, etc.). In most cases Luke gives a distinct picture of these incidental personages. In particular he brings out sharply such men as Gallio, Claudius, Lysias, Felix, Festus, Herod, Agrippa I and II, Julius. Luke's conception of the apostolic history is that it is the work of Jesus still carried on by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1 f.). Christ chose the apostles, commanded them to wait for power from on high, filled them with the Holy Spirit and then sent them on the mission of world conquest. In the Acts Luke records the waiting, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the planting of a powerful church in Jerusalem and the expansion of the gospel to Samaria and all over the Roman Empire. He addresses the book to Theophilus as his patron, a Gentile Christian plainly, as he had done with his gospel. The book is designed for the enlightenment of Christians generally concerning the historic origins of Christianity. It is in truth the first church history. It is in reality the Acts of the Holy Spirit as wrought through these men. It is an inspiring narration. Luke had no doubt whatever of the future of a gospel with such a history and with such heroes of faith as Peter and Paul.
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