The Acts of the Apostles is volume two of the work begun by Luke. As such, what was said earlier about the author, date and place of composition apply to Acts as well as to Luke. That is, The book was written around the year 85 by a man who used the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). He was not an eyewitness of the events he records, so he made use of travelogues and interviews of eyewitnesses. To this he added some material unique to himself. Whoever the author was, he most likely was a Gentile and not a Jew. Among the writers of the New Testament, he was the only Gentile. It is virtually impossible to know where the text was written, but in all likelihood it was composed in Syria or Greece.
Of special interest is the fact that there seems to have been two editions of the book which circulated in different parts of the Church. In the western part of the empire a greatly expanded version circulated while in the east the version printed in most modern editions of the Greek New Testament circulated. It is not possible to know if Luke made these expansions in a "second edition" or if a later group of scribes added the expansions found in the western textual tradition.
As the purpose of the Gospel of Luke was disclosed in the opening and closing sections, so is the purpose of Acts made clear in the opening and closing segments. In 1:1-4 we read Luke’s own description of his work -- to make known what Jesus said and did. Acts addresses how the apostles picked up this work and carried it to the very heart of the Empire, where it could spread everywhere. The book closes with a very peculiar Greek construction. That is, it ends with an adverb. This is unusual in Greek as it is in English. The adverb that closes the book is "unhinderedly". Most English translations simply render this "unhindered" but it is in fact an adverb, which requires, in English, an "ly" ending. What is Luke doing with this unusual construction? I think that he is suggesting that the Gospel is unhindered as it makes its way from Palestine to Rome, and will continue unhindered as it makes its way from Rome to the ends of the earth. Luke’s purpose, then, is to show that the Gospel is not hindered and that the work begun by Jesus is continuing!
The outline of Acts shows the growth and spread of the Apostolic work as the continuation of Jesus’ ministry:
1- The Resurrection and the Birth of the Church (1:1-26).
2- The Ministry of the Apostles in Jerusalem (2:1-8:1)
3- The Ministry of the Apostles in Samaria and Judea (8:2-12:25)
4- The Ministry of the Apostles and Paul to the Ends of the Earth (13:1-28:31)
ASSIGNMENT: Read Romans and Brown’s Introduction, chapter 24.
Copyright © Quartz Hill School of Theology. All Rights Reserved.