4 things you need to know about the Book of Acts

The Book of Acts is special. It is more than just a history book. It is more than just a story about some followers of Jesus. It is more than just a book of any type. It is His story about revival in the Holy Spirit.

While the Old Testament was about the losses that the people of God took, Acts is about its victories. This is because Hebrews 9:15 tells us the death of Jesus changed everything for the people of God.

It was with great joy, praise and desire for holiness that God poured out on the believers in Acts 2. We know that when the Lord went to Heaven, the believers lived with great joy expecting the power from on high to be given to them. (Luke 24:49-53)

Why is it called Acts?

Well, at first, it was not called that or anything else. It was not until 144 that Marcion named it “The Acts of All the Apostles.” (Oddly, he also believed that only Paul was truly faithful to God). At some point in the same time frame, it was shortened to the Acts of the Apostles we know it as today.

While they did seem to have a presence in the opening chapters, this changed quickly. Peter and Paul are the only apostles talked about in detail. There is a short mention of James and John made it into two chapters. Otherwise, the apostles was a minor theme.

The reason for this the book is about the Holy Spirit. It would be better called the book of Acts of the Holy Spirit. He is the star of the book more than anyone.

Another way to look at the book would seeing it as the Acts of the Apostolic church. It was not just a few apostles doing everything. Anyone saved and filled with the Holy Spirit was being used to bring in the harvest.

One thing many seem to miss about the book of Acts is that is was just an overview of the Acts of the Apostolic church. There are not room to record everything (such as sermons) on the papyrus scrolls.

When was Acts written?

Another important thing to understand is WHEN it was written. Most consider that Luke wrote this as a continuing of his gospel; this is based on both books were to Theopilus which was probably was Luke’s master.

The only Gentile writer in the New Testament seems to be focused on his master knowing what was happening in the churches. It was also like he was saying, “Here is what I am doing.”

What we do know is that Paul’s first imprisonment is a major part of the end of the Book of Acts and that is between 60-62. We also know that is was before 64 when Nero burned down Rome and started martyring Christian.

It is possible the reason for the ending of Acts of the Apostolic Church being the way it was is that Luke was either arrested for preaching the gospel or he was martyred.

No matter what happened to Luke, we only have about 30 years of records and it was clearly because Nero starting killing Christians and before the fall of Jerusalem in 70.

Luke was a theologican

He was a medical doctor but it seems he was well educated about theology as well. He went out of his way to give doctrine about the nature, growth, life, purpose and mission of the Apostolic Church. The claims that is just history is craziness.

Acts was just a “filler” between the gospels and the Epistles. In fact, it could be stated that understanding the rest of the New Testament requires knowledge of Acts as the backdrop or roadmap for them. What happened in Ephesus in Acts 19 is the context of the book of Ephesus, for example.

The theology of Luke is quite clear when he uses Old Testament promises and prophecy to reveal the Lordship of Jesus as the Messiah. He presents Christianity as the fulfillment of Judaism.

While the Kingdom of God is only mentioned a few times, the truth is that is important. It is just Luke wants to focus more on the growth of the church in the Apostolic age. As Villafane points out, the earthly could be called “the community of the Holy Spirit.” Others have referred to the first generation as the community of Pentecostal prophets.

It is also worth stating that Luke makes it a point to talk about the need for Jesus Christ that died on the cross for our sins. He presented the move of the Holy Spirit and miracles in the context of the proclamation of the gospel. The message of the death, burial and resurrection is centrality to what Luke wants us to see.

Having the proper Text

While for many, this would not matter; having the right translation is important. Many of the manuscripts are what people call neutral text. While there is nothing wrong with them, they are not clear is what we call western text. Namely, the Codex Bezae that was found in the six century has 10% more information in it.

There is a discussion among theologican if all of the writing is truly Luke or not. Some of the “extra” things are spefic statements and early traditions. It is possible they were added to make the text more smoothly.

It is worth stating that the King James uses western text in their translation. Others such as the NIV only use neutral text. This is not to say the King James Version should not be read from. There are other issues with the KJV but this is not one of them.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come

The drive of the book of Acts of the Apostolic Church is that the Holy Spirit was critical to everything they did and preached. They needed the presence of God as much as they needed air. May the same be said of us today.

Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood-bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

(William Booth)

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