Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some Facts About Acts

So, Sunday morning for the P1.6 GROUP I'm starting a new Bible study on the Book of Acts. Acts is the account of the disciples' activities after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended. It actually begins with an account of Jesus' ascension, right after he commissions them, saying, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8).

Since the study begins on Sunday morning, I thought I would share some things about the Book of Acts to get us thinking.

Some Facts about Acts
  • Acts traces the exciting and evocative Christian story from sacred Jerusalem to imperial Rome
  • Though Acts is anonymous, most scholars think it began as the written conversation between a story-teller named Luke and his first reader named Theophilus (would you want a name like that?)
  • Acts was likely written sometime between A.D. 70 and 100, somewhere within the Mediterranean world.
  • Luke likely wrote at a time when stressing the church's Jewish roots was necessary for both theological and political reasons
  • We can sketch the basic features of the author this way: He was an educated, well-traveled, Greek, who may have converted to Judaism years before he became a Christian missionary.
  • Who is this Theophilus guy? Evidently he is a new, socially prominent, believer in Jesus. Some scholars speculate that since his name in Greek means, "dear Ones," that this is Luke's clever metaphor for every new Christian seeking theological instruction. However, it is more likely that Theophilus is a wealthy patron who has provided funds to enable Luke to write a detailed narrative of the church's beginnings for public consumption.
  • What is an 'Acts'? Is Acts a history, a biography, a novel, an apology, or a variety of literature without ancient paralellels? Given its connection to the Gospel, Acts may best be described as a historical narrative about "the things fulfilled among us." (Luke 1:1) Acts sketches the origins of a religious movement. Like the Gospel it is full of miracles but without telling the story of only one heroic character.
    • One scholar says this: Acts has a practical, homiletical (preaching) purpose - to tell the story of Christ and his new community in such a way that the values of the founder (Jesus) and his immediate successors (the apostles) might be emulated today. The writer wants to do more than chronicle the past. Rather, the past becomes the platform from which to preach to the present.
  • Acts is a story worth retelling today. It deals with issues which are always in season in the church: questions about the relationship between Christians and Jews, Christians and pagans; issues related to the Church's stance within the modern state; problems with prayer; the purpose of preaching and teaching in the church; and a host of other dilemmas that press upon the church today with more relevance than CNN's Headline News.
  • Acts opens up with the community of Jesus followers waiting for something to happen, listening for a word; a word that comes in a rushing mighty wind that sets the church in motion in power and authority...
...And the world hasn't ever been the same since, and neither will ours.

More to come!