Summary: Ovireview of the Book of Acts - Begingng of a series. The idea that the letter is written to you and me and perhaps other purposes too.
We are going to do something a little different for our sermon time. At least it is different for me. For the next while, at least through the Fall we are going to remain in one book of the Bible. That means that when you arrive Each Sunday you will already know which book and chapter of the bible we will be talking about.
That means I will be disciplined enough to keep on track and you can read the book of acts in preparation for what God will have for us in our worship service each Sunday.
I will publish the reading on the back of the bulletin for several weeks in advance The are two Sundays that you will have a guest speaker between now and the end of September that will choose their own subject and scripture.
-- Do you know any good story tellers, I have heard professionals and they can really keep you spell bound, My dad told me the story of “the man with the golden arm” and cared the wits out of me. Renee’s grand father , told stories of the coal mines where he started working as a child and had a series of ghost stories, moving lights that kept his hearers hanging on ever word.
I guess we all get a lot of stories told to us on TV and movies. I would add that many of you get enjoyment from writers in books.
The book of Acts is a book that offers a great read. It is a book that holds the story of the Early Church. How things got started and places of trouble. The book contains adventure, courage, drama heroes and villains.
With all the different movies related to the Bible it is a little surprising that there has not been a movie.
We need to start our time in acts by considering the purpose. What did Luke write this particular portion of the bible? First, he never wrote anything that he expected to become a part of official scripture. The documents he created just ended up being used by the church for teaching about the earliest history of the church and of course several signifent actions which helped the church to expand and grow.
So if Luke was not writing something for the Bible, then why, There are many theories and I will only give you a couple to consider this morning.
One is that Luke has been contracted by a wealthy Christian to document the process of the early church. The Gospel of Luke, is about things he researched, he did not witness Jesus birth or even the crucifixion. He came along later. He is a researcher and writer that is a companion of Paul and perhaps his personal physician. So the majority of what he writes about he has gathered like an investigative reporter. He has interviewed witnesses, he has talked to people that knew the stories and in the Last half of Acts he witnessed the events himself.
The Gospel of Luke opens like this:
In Luke 1:1-4 “ Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke is documenting the actions on Jesus in the Gospel and the in Acts he moves on to the history of the church. Which are the actions of the Holy Spirit.
He seems to be writing to a person in Luke. Then in the first verse of Acts:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
So who is Theophilus, and why would Luke spend so much time writing to him?
Theophilus is said to e a common name among Jews and Romans, it is defined as meaning “lover of God.” It sounds a little like a name that might get you beat up on the play ground.
With a meaning of Lover of God, it could easily have been a generic letter to Christians in general.
However, it could just as well be a real person and many scholars point to the language in the opening of Luke where he uses the phrase “Most Excellent” which was the common address for a Roman official.
So perhaps it is a real name of an official. Which leads us to the most common thought of the purpose of the books of Luke and Acts. They were written as briefs for Paul’s trial in Rome. Perhaps, Theophilus is a court official, maybe an attorney representing Paul and Luke has prepared the documents to bring him up to speed on the case.