Summary: We care called to be witnesses for Christ. What does that mean? How are we to serve as His witnesses in the world?
1. The Book of Acts
May 24th, 2009
Witnesses for Christ
When I was growing up I was not exactly what you would call a Bible scholar. In fact until I went to college I really didn’t know much about it at all. I had many opinions that I would support with Biblical texts taken horribly out of context. I spent my first year of Bible College just unlearning all the bad theology I had developed over the years. I had some whacky beliefs. You know until I got to college I thought the book of Acts was about the tool used to cut down trees? I thought it was spelled A.X.E. I had no idea but always thought that was interesting. It wasn’t until I enrolled in the class that I realized how wrong I was. Now I know I am not alone in this. You may not know it yet, but we all have some whacky beliefs that we think are Biblical.
We are going to be doing a series for the next few months on the book of Acts. Before we can get into the theology there are some important issues for us to cover. Let’s start by looking at the text, actually let’s rewind that a little more and start by just looking at the title. The title of the book of Acts is: the Acts of the Apostles. This is actually a strange title for after verse 13 of chapter 1 most of the disciples are not even mentioned. The book of Acts only really talks about two apostles. Peter dominates the first 12 chapters and toward the end of those we meet Paul who dominates the last 15 chapters. Acts isn’t about the Acts of the Apostles because the Apostles are not really the main characters. The main character is the Holy Spirit. Peter and Paul are important characters but the Holy Spirit is the real hero of the book of Acts. This book reveals to us so much about the Holy Spirit of God. So a better title would be: The Acts of the Holy Spirit. As we go through this study I hope we can come to a greater understanding of Him and realize that the Spirit is not some strange ‘it’ that we cannot wrap our minds around the Spirit is very personal and He is someone we can have a relationship with. The Holy Spirit is the only aspect of God that lives in you. We can get to know Jesus through our encounters with Him but without the Holy Spirit we cannot have a relationship with God. It is through the Spirit that we communicate with God and God communicates back. The Holy Spirit is not just the hero of the book of Acts He is the hero of our lives. Hopefully this series will help us get to know Him better.
Now let’s get into the text. It starts out in Acts 1:1: “In my” now we have to stop here and answer a very important question. Who is my? Who wrote the book of Acts? While the book does not exactly say who wrote it and yet there are really not a lot of credible options here. In fact there is really only one. Due to external evidence from the early church fathers living in the first few centuries of the church the author was unanimously believed it to be Luke. External evidence however can be at times unreliable so we must look to internal evidence. If Luke is the author of this book there should be some internal evidence from within the book itself to support that. Such evidence is found in the later chapters of the book of Acts in what are referred to as ‘we’ passages. These are passages in which the author uses the first person plural rather than the third person plural. When describing some of the things Paul was doing the author doesn’t say: they, he says we indicating that he was there as a traveling companion of Paul. When you chart the occasions of the ‘we’ passages in conjunction with the epistles we can establish who our possible candidates for writing might be.
To better answer the question of authorship we need to add a few more words. “In my former book” let’s stop here. Now we know that this is the second volume of an at least two part set. What is the first part? It is made apparent when reading through the book of Acts that the vocabulary, themes, and writing style are very similar and closely related to one of the Gospels. Both of these two books are very detailed making careful notes of locations and historical information. What is more both the book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke are dedicated to a person named Theophilus. So we learn that it is Luke who authored the book of Acts. Now let’s actually dive into Acts 1: