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The Book of Acts


... the 'Acts of the Apostles', but Paul and Peter, (and John) are the only Apostles ... saints in Jerusalem; 1and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Book of Acts

The Book of Acts
  • The Thematic Method

Basic Facts
  • Second part of the Gospel of Luke
  • Called the Acts of the Apostles, but Paul and
    Peter, (and John) are the only Apostles who
    figure prominently
  • Written 80-85 C.E.
  • Traditionally ascribed to a travelling companion
    of Paul
  • First time followers of Jesus are called
    Christians (1126)

Ancient Histories
  • Like ancient biographies, ancient histories were
    not focused on the exact retelling of events
  • Focus was on the ideas given voice to and the
    virtues demonstrated by great figures
  • Not unusual for ancient historians to invent
    speeches for their various characters
  • Even today, historians must pick and choose what
    to emphasize

Thematic Method
  • A method used to study literary text by isolating
    its leading ideas, or themes, and exploring
    theme, seeing how they are developed in the text,
    so as to understand the authors overarching

Main Theme of Acts
  • The Jewish origins of Christianity, its
    fulfilment of the Jewish Scriptures and its
    continuity with Judaism
  • The Proclamation to Jew and Gentile alike of the
    salvation through repentance of sins and the
    forgiveness of God, with Gentiles who accept this
    offer of Salvation not needing to adopt the ways
    of Judaism
  • The delay of the time of the end to make the
    Christian mission to the ends of the earth a
  • The complete unity and harmony of the early
    Church as guided by the apostles
  • The hand of God directing the course of Christian
    history (hence many parallels between Jesus life
    and events in the book of Acts)

The Author and His Themes in Context
  • The emphasis on Jewish roots can be explained by
    the preference in the ancient world for the
    ancient past (eg. Mithraism, Sol Invictus) rather
    than things that were new
  • The mission to the Gentiles is used as an
    explanation of the delay of the end times and
    probably indicates that Lukes community was
    facing opponents who used the delay as a
  • In Luke-Acts Jesus is portrayed as more serenely
    facing death than in Mark (Lukes audience may
    have been facing persecution)

The Council of Jerusalem
  • Circumcision?
  • Food Laws?
  • Acts of the Apostles 10.9-19 About noon the
    next day, as they were on their journey and
    approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof
    to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to
    eat and while it was being prepared, he fell
    into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and
    something like a large sheet coming down, being
    lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it
    were all kinds of four-footed creatures and
    reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a
    voice saying, Get up, Peter kill and eat. But
    Peter said, By no means, Lord for I have never
    eaten anything that is profane or unclean. The
    voice said to him again, a second time, What God
    has made clean, you must not call profane. This
    happened three times, and the thing was suddenly
    taken up to heaven.

James Speech at the Council of Jerusalem
  • Acts 1519-21Therefore I have reached the
    decision that we should not trouble those
    Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should
    write to them to abstain only from things
    polluted by idols and from fornication and from
    whatever has been strangled and from blood. For
    in every city, for generations past, Moses has
    had those who proclaim him, for he has been read
    aloud every Sabbath in the synagogues.

The Seven Noahide Laws
  • Must not deny God
  • No murder
  • No theft
  • No adultery
  • Must not blaspheme God
  • Do not eat the flesh torn from a living animal
  • You shall set up an effective government to
    police the preceding six laws
  • -- The Talmud

The Early Social Action of the Church
  • From Each according to his ability to each
    according to his needKarl Marx,The Communist
  • Acts 432-35 Now the whole group of those who
    believed were of one heart and soul, and no one
    claimed private ownership of any possessions, but
    everything they owned was held in common. With
    great power the apostles gave their testimony to
    the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great
    grace was upon them all. There was not a needy
    person among them, for as many as owned lands or
    houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what
    was sold. They laid it at the apostles feet, and
    it was distributed to each as any had need.

The First Martyrsof Acts
  • Stephen The First Martyr
  • Acts 751-61 You stiff-necked people,
    uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are for ever
    opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors
    used to do. Which of the prophets did your
    ancestors not persecute? They killed those who
    foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now
    you have become his betrayers and murderers. You
    are the ones that received the law as ordained by
    angels, and yet you have not kept it. When they
    heard these things, they became enraged and
    ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with
    the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the
    glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand
    of God. Look, he said, I see the heavens
    opened and the Son of Man standing at the right
    hand of God! But they covered their ears, and
    with a loud shout all rushed together against
    him. Then they dragged him out of the city and
    began to stone him and the witnesses laid their
    coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
    While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord
    Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he knelt down and
    cried out in a loud voice, Lord, do not hold
    this sin against them. When he had said this, he
    died. And Saul approved of their killing him.

Pauls Conversion
  • Acts 93-27 Now as he was going along and
    approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from
    heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground
    and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why
    do you persecute me? He asked, Who are you,
    Lord? The reply came, I am Jesus, whom you are
    persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and
    you will be told what you are to do. 7The men
    who were travelling with him stood speechless
    because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul
    got up from the ground, and though his eyes were
    open, he could see nothing so they led him by
    the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three
    days he was without sight, and neither ate nor
    drank. Now there was a disciple in Damascus
    named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision,
    Ananias. He answered, Here I am, Lord. 11The
    Lord said to him, Get up and go to the street
    called Straight, and at the house of Judas look
    for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he
    is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man
    named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so
    that he might regain his sight. 1But Ananias
    answered, Lord, I have heard from many about
    this man, how much evil he has done to your
    saints in Jerusalem 1and here he has authority
    from the chief priests to bind all who invoke
    your name. 15But the Lord said to him, Go, for
    he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring
    my name before Gentiles and kings and before the
    people of Israel 1I myself will show him how
    much he must suffer for the sake of my name. So
    Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his
    hands on Saul and said, Brother Saul, the Lord
    Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has
    sent me so that you may regain your sight and be
    filled with the Holy Spirit. 1And immediately
    something like scales fell from his eyes, and his
    sight was restored. Then he got up and was
    baptized, 19and after taking some food, he
    regained his strength.

Pauls Journeys
Luke, writing c 85-90, arranges Paul's travels
into three separate journeys. Antioch serves as
a major Christian center for Paul's
evangelizing. Council of Jerusalem adopted in the
Apostolic Decree of Acts 1519-29, c. 50
AD. Most scholars agree that a vital meeting
between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place
in AD 49 or 50 Luke describes it in Acts 15