Introduction to the Book of Acts II – – December 2, 2012

I. The Author – Who is “I” in (vs. 1)? “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,”

A. Six Reasons why we believe it is Dr. Luke

1. The “we” and “us” passages – “When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16
2. Paul’s references to Luke in: Col. 4:14 “Luke, the beloved physician, send you his greetings, and also Demas.”; II Tim. 4:11 “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”; Philemon 23, 24 “…greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.”

3. Frequent use of medical terms: 1:3; 3:7f; 9:18, 33; 13:11; 28:1-10; “When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.” Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went it to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.”

4. Luke’s travels with Paul:

5. Unifying role of Theophilus in gospel of Luke and Acts: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)

6. Same style of writing in both Luke and Acts

B. What kind of man was Luke?

1. Luke was a brilliant man. C. Peter Wagner “a man possessed of remarkable literary skill, with a fine sense of form and a beautiful style.” Edmund Heibert – “competent scholar and a first-rate literary historian….. His work was characterized by comprehensiveness, thoroughness, accuracy, and orderliness.

2. Luke was a kingdom man – C. Peter Wagner – “He was dedicated to spreading Christianity not only in his hometown of Antioch of Syria or in the city where he later may have settled, Phillipi, but also to the unreached peoples of the first-century world. Luke is in fact the only Gentile writer of the New Testament, or of the whole Bible for that matter.”

3. Luke was a relational man

II. Date of Writing – Probably during Paul’s house arrest in Rome. – 62-65 A.D.

III. Theophilus – 1. Probably a gov’t official of some kind because of “most excellent” tag (cf. Acts 23:25, 26 “And he wrote a letter having this form Cladius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix, greetings,; 24:3 “we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness”; 26:25 “But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth.”). 2. Probably a believer because of “things you have been taught” phrase (Luke 1:4). 3. Probably provided financial backing for these writing projects

IV. Purpose of Writing/Book of Acts – 1. Barclay – “Luke’s great aim was to show the expansion of Christianity, to show how that religion which began in a little corner of Palestine had in a little more than 30 years reached Rome.” 2. Toussaint – “To explain with the Gospel of Luke the orderly and sovereignly directed progress of the kingdom message from Jews to Gentiles, and from Jerusalem to Rome.” 3. Wagner – “It is intended to be a paradigm of how the kingdom of God would be spread worldwide through the centuries until Jesus returns…Acts more than any other book is our primary training manual (for how to build the church and reach the world for Christ).”

V. Some Unique Features/Themes of the Book of Acts
1. Theme of Holy Spirit –
2. Theme of prayer – personal and corporate –
3. Theme of the kingdom of God –
4. Most pivotal verse in book – probably Acts 1:8
5. Most pivotal characters in the book – probably Peter and Paul

VI. How can we get the most out of this series?
1. Jump in the book on your own and live in it until we are done.
2. Feel free to interact with me about questions, suggestions, insights and especially any opportunity you have to practice or make changes as a result of our meditations in this book.
3. Pray for me and for us as I prepare the sermons and as you prepare to listen to them –
4. If you miss a Sunday you can always ask for a copy of the sermon cd; or any outlines I might have provided; or you can ask a friend about it.

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