For Better Understanding of Acts
This is Blog #8 in my Introduction to the Book of Acts.
Comprehend the Timeline
To a casual reader it can seem as if the events of Acts 2, Acts 10 and then Acts 28 happen in rapid succession. This is not the case. Events in Acts 2 are estimated to have happened nine years before Cornelius’ salvation in Acts 10. What happened in Acts 10 preceded Paul’s journey to Rome by 21 years.
The book of Acts covers approximately thirty years. Understanding the time involved gives a sense of the time in Paul becoming a convert, a disciple, and then a student of the scripture. It helps see the development of Peter as the apostle preaching the first gospel message to the Jews and nine years later to a Gentile.
Having these few chapters cover thirty years of history in a stretch. These years involve so many different people that much is left unknown.
Acts Does Not Go Down All the Roads the Gospel Travelled
Luke gives us no word about the expansion of the gospel except in what amounts to almost a direct line from Jerusalem to Rome. There is no mention of the work of God in Crete (Titus 1:5), Illyricum (Romans 15:9 - modern Slovakia), or Pontus, Cappadocia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1).
Acts Does Not Have a Grand Finale
I wonder what Theophilus thought of the material his friend sent him? Luke ends his message with an unfinished story! The last details recorded in chapter 28 have Luke leaving Paul in prison. Writing to the church in Rome, Paul said, “Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey . . .” (Romans 15:24). Even now, we have no definitive conclusion that Paul ever reached Spain. Yet, that is part of the point of how Luke wraps up his writing – the efforts of the book of Acts continues and will never end until every man and woman has heard about the redeeming love of God. 
Luke gives several summary statements. These are in Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:4; and 19:20. These brief stops recap what has preceded. Immediately afterward, the story moves in a new direction. The psalmists used the word Selah rather often. The word Selah has been defined as “pause and consider this.” These recaps seem to stop the story for a moment of introspection before it takes off in a new direction.
Contextual Questions to Consider
Context always matters. “A preacher who uses a text without context preaches a pretext.” (Unknown) There are several contextual questions even a semi-serious student of scripture must consider. For Acts, three additional contextual questions are needed:
- What is the point of this story or sermon?
- How does this story or sermon function in Luke’s total narrative inspired by God?
- Why did the Spirit have Luke include this bit of information?
Click here if you missed Blog #1, Blog #2, Blog #3, Blog #4, Blog #5, Blog #6 or Blog #7 in my Introduction to the Book of Acts.
Recommended books for additional study:
Acts of the Apostles by G. Campbell Morgan
Exploring Acts by John Phillips
Acts: The Amazing History of the Early Church by Jet Witherspoon
Other books for helps:
**If you purchase any book via clicking a link, the author of the blog receives a small affiliate marketing fee from Amazon.
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