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Summary: Luke’s Gospel describes only the beginning of Jesus’ work; Acts describes its continuation; and the work of Jesus continues to our present day. We must remember that Acts does not give us a full history of the church during this period.

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April 23, 2013

By: Tom Lowe

Series: The Early Church

Title: The Reaffirmation of the Promise

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1.1-5

Acts 1.1-5 (KJV)

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Commentary

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

The former treatise have I made,

The former treatise, undoubtedly, refers to the gospel, which was written by St. Luke, and bears his name. There Luke recorded the history of the Gospel, which features the life of Christ; His teachings and actions. At one time the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were joined together as one book with two “volumes.”

Can you imagine what it would be like if the Book of Acts were missing from the New Testament? You would pick up your Bible and see the ministry of Jesus ending in the Gospel of John; next you would read about a guy named Paul writing to followers of Jesus in Rome. Who was Paul? How did the gospel get from Jerusalem to Rome? The Book of Acts answers these questions. A great New Testament scholar (Barclay) has said that the title of Acts might be, “How they brought the Good News from Jerusalem to Rome.”

We really don’t know all that much about Luke from the New Testament. We know that he was a doctor; we know that he was a Gentile, and we know that he was a companion of Paul. There was a time when many scholars thought that Acts was sort of a romance novel of the early church, written at least 100 years after the events supposedly happened. But William Ramsay, a noted archaeologist and Bible scholar, proved that the historical record of Acts is remarkably accurate regarding the specific practices, laws and customs of the period it claims to record. It is definitely the work of contemporary eyewitnesses.

In the mid-1960’s, A.N. Sherwin-White, an expert in Greco-Roman history from Oxford, wrote about Acts: “The historical framework is exact. In terms of time and place the details are precise and correct . . . As documents these narratives belong to the same historical series as the record of provincial and imperial trials in epigraphical and literary sources of the first and early second centuries AD . . . For Acts the confirmation of history is overwhelming . . . Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.”


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