History

About Acts – The New Testament Book of History

The New Testament book of Acts is a historical account of the early Church founded by Jesus Christ and His apostles. The Book of Acts is sometimes called the fifth Gospel as it is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, after making a critical study of Dr. Luke’s writings, declared that Luke was the greatest historian, ancient or modern.

Acts – A Most Remarkable Book of History

The Book of Acts is remarkable in many ways. It is a bridge between the Gospels and the Epistles. The New Testament without the Book of Acts leaves a great yawning gap. As Dr. Houston puts it, “If the book of Acts were gone, there would be nothing to replace it.” The last recorded fact about Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is the Resurrection, which is recorded in Acts 1. In the Gospel of Mark, the last recorded act of Jesus is the Ascension, which is also recorded in Acts 1. In the Gospel of Luke, the last recorded fact is the promise of the Holy Spirit. That is also in Acts 1. And in the Gospel of John the last recorded fact is the second coming of Christ. You guessed it — that is also in Acts 1. It is as if the four Gospels had been poured into a funnel, and they all come down into this jug of the first chapter of the Book of Acts. Also the great missionary commission, which appears in all four Gospels, is confirmed in the Book of Acts.

The Name

Commonly called “The Acts of the Apostles,” a more accurate title would be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” since He fills the scene. As the presence of the Son, exalting and manifesting the Father, is the central theme of the four gospels, the presence of the Holy Spirit, who came at Pentecost (Acts 2), magnifying and revealing the risen and ascended Son, is the underlying truth of the Acts.

The Date

The book of Acts was probably written about a.d. 63 or a little later, since it concludes with the account of Paul’s earliest ministry in Rome.

The Author

Luke, the “beloved physician,” who also wrote the gospel of Luke (Acts 1:1), was the author. Both the gospel and the Acts are addressed to “most excellent Theophilus,” who was evidently a distinguished Gentile. The numerous “we” sections (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-21:18; Acts 27:1-28:16) indicate where Luke joined Paul as a fellow traveler.

The Theme

Acts is the continuation of the account of Christianity begun in the gospel of Luke. In the “first account” Luke relates what Jesus “began to do and teach” and catalogs in Acts what Jesus continued to do and teach through the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. The book, accordingly, records the ascension and promised return of the risen Lord (Acts 1); the advent of the Spirit and the first historical occurrence of the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2; cf. Acts 1:5 with Acts 11:16); with the consequent formation of the church as the mystical Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). It also recounts Peter’s use of the keys of the kingdom of the heavens in opening gospel opportunity for this age to Jew (Acts 2), Samaritan (Acts 8), and Gentile (Acts 10). It describes Paul’s conversion and the extension of Christianity through him to the “remotest part of the earth.”

(Information Sources: Dr. McGee’s Thru the Bible Commentary and The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary)

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