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Chapter Commentary

1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach,2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:3 To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God:4 and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me:5 For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority.8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;11 who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is nigh unto Jerusalem, a Sabbath days journey off.13 And when they were come in, they went up into the upper chamber, where they were abiding; both Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.14 These all with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.15 And in these days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, and said (and there was a multitude of persons gathered together, about a hundred and twenty),16 Brethren, it was needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.17 For he was numbered among us, and received his portion in this ministry.18 (Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.19 And it became known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch that in their language that field was called Akeldama, that is, The field of blood.)20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be made desolate, And let no man dwell therein: and, His office let another take.21 Of the men therefore that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us,22 beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of his resurrection.23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen,25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.26 And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Chapter Introduction
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Brief Quotations
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Background
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History of Interpretation
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Verse by Verse Exegesis

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Comparison / Typology
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Theology
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Application
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Introduction to Acts of the Apostles

Introduction

SOURCES CONSULTED:

Bovon, Francois.  Luke the Theologian.  Thirty-Three Years of Research.  Translated by Ken McKinney.  Allison Park, Pennsylvania: Pickwick Publications, 1987. 

Dupont, Jacques.  The Salvation of the Gentiles: Essays on the Acts of the Apostles.  Translated by John R. Keating.  New York: Paulist Press, 1979. 

Hengel, Martin.  Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity.  London: SCM, 1979.

Sherwin-White, A.N.  Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament.  Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1963.

Stott, John.  The Spirit, the Church, and the World: The Message of Acts.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990. 

Stronstad, Roger.  The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984.

Authorship and Audience.  The tradition of Lukan authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and Acts goes back to Irenaeus (Ad. Haer. III,1,2).  Acts is quoted as early as the letter of Polycarp (i.2; Acts 2:24). Wilfred Knox cites in The Acts of the Apostles (Cambridge: CUP, 1948; 14) the view that stylistic considerations suggest that the first half of Acts was written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke, while the second half of Acts was written by someone else.  Probably Luke wrote acts shortly after the narrative ends. 

The fact that "Theophilus" is called "most excellent," like the Roman governors Felix and Festus (Luke 1:3; Acts 23:26, 26:25), has suggested to some that Theophilus may have been a Roman official in some way associated with Paul's expected trial in Rome.  The most we can say with reasonable certainty is that Theophilus was a person who already knew something about Christianity, and that Luke wished to strengthen and enlarge his knowledge. 

Historicity.  Acts, as G.E. Ladd says (The Young Church; London: Lutterworth, 1964; p. 9), is "a deceptively simple book."  It superficially appears to be a straightforward history of the church, but much more is involved in it.  The title "Acts of the Apostles" appears to derive from the opening paragraph, and can be traced back to about 150 A.D. (Ladd, The Young Church, 10).  Yet the book does not record "the acts of the apostles."  Where are the acts of Matthias?  Where are the acts of John?  John is mentioned in Acts 3 and 4, and once in chapter 8, but never in isolation from Peter.  Missing from this book is the more strictly biographical interest in the early "saints" that is so well known from later ages.  It is quite significant that it is only later tradition, and not the text of Luke, that satisfies our curiosity about what became of John and others in later times.  Even in the case of Paul, the central figure in the last half of the gospel, Luke is not interested in recording Paul's doings for their own sake.  Luke fails to tell us about Paul's most important activities.  Luke never even mentions Paul's letters--which later generations regard as one of his most enduring achievements.  "Acts was written for a theological and apologetic purpose.  However, it is a purpose which Luke finds in history.  It is not theology read into history or history distorted to serve theology.  It is a theological interpretation of history" (Ladd, p. 21). 

The central problem of the historicity of Acts turns on Paul's visit(s) to Jerusalem.  More specifically there is the question as to whether the Jerusalem Council as recorded in Acts 15, and the incident recorded in Galatians 2:1-14, coincide with one another.  If so, then it is commonly argued that the discrepancy between the two accounts is so great that they cannot be reconciled with one another.  If Paul is right, then Luke must be wrong.  Acts then must be the work, not of a companion of Paul, but of an ignorant compiler who did not even know the epistles of Paul, let alone know Paul in person.  The conclusion then is that we cannot rely on anything in Acts, except that which is corroborated in the Pauline epistles, and/or that which is recounted in the "we-sections" that may still embody the travel-diary of an actual fellow traveller with Paul.  But there is no reason to follow this line of argument.  Why indeed is one compelled to identify the Jerusalem Conference of Acts 15 with the meeting of Galatians 2?  Why should anyone assume that Luke was "suppressing the facts" in Acts 15?  Why indeed should we assum that Acts 15 was Luke's free composition?  Might it not have been a pre-written report of conference proceedings, that Luke inserted more or less bodily into his work, fully cognizant that it was not reconciliable with the event described in Galatians 2?  If Galatians was written before the Jerusalem Council, then can we not explain the difference in Peter's attitude to a development over time? 

In favor of Luke's historicity are the echoes of the "primitive kerygma" in the early chapters, e.g., Jesus as the "Prince of life" (3:15) and "Pioneer of salvation" (5:31) and "Servant" (5:31, 13:23; echoing Isaiah).  These texts strongly suggest that Luke has not simply read back later (Pauline?) theology into this earliest period. 

A casual reading of Acts leaves the reader in great confusion as to the rulers in Palestine.  Just who was in charge?!  Herod, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, etc?  Palestine was a troublesome area for Roman rule, with frequent changes in government.  Herod, the persecutor of the church (Acts 12:1 ff.), dies a sudden and unexpected death as recorded both by Luke (12:20-23) and Josephus (Antiquities 19.8.2).

Interpreting Acts.  Some interpreters believe that the reference in Acts 1 to what Jesus "began to do," as recorded in the author's earlier work, implies that the book of Acts is taken by the author in effect as a record of what Jesus "continued to do."  It is mainly the speeches in Acts that embody Luke's presentation of early Christian beliefs.  Because Luke does not attempt anything like a systematic exposition, it is always dangerous to use an argument from silence.  Luke keeps alive the interest of his readers by a continual change of scenery in Acts.  He also shows a preference for miracles and dramatic incidents, rather than for those events that reflect the day-to-day life of the church.   

A fundamental interpretive question in approaching Acts is how one distinguishes the descriptive aspects of the text from its didactive.  One must ask: Is the behavior recorded meant to be copied, or eschewed?  Should we decide church offices today by drawing lots (Acts 1)?  Must we all speak in tongues, as the early company of disciples in Jerusalem all seemed to do (Acts 2)?  Ought contemporary Christians to sell their goods and hold all things in common, as the earliest Christians did (Acts 2,4)?  Again, are we to expect conversions today to be much that of Saul of Tarsus, with visions and voices from heaven (Acts 9; Stott, p. 8)?  These are just a few examples to illustrate a general hermeneutical problem. 

Related to the above is a further question: To what extent ought the church of Acts serve as a criterion for the validity and vitality of the church of today?  Is it a legitimate procedure to lay the two alongside of one another, and draw out the contrasts or analogies?  Or are the circumstances of the ancient and modern churches so radically different that an evaluation of one by comparison with the other is liable to be greatly misleading?

There are at least three different approaches to interpreting Acts against its cultural background.  These may be denominated the approach from behind, from the side, and from the front.  The first makes Judaism the interpretive context; the second uses first century Hellenistic culture as its context; the third examines the early developments in Acts in light of later patristic Christianity.  Yet who is competant in all these areas of pertinent knowledge?  

Jew and Gentile.  "Acts closes very differently from what the opening chapters of the Gospel seem to promise.  The narrative ends on  pagan soil, not in the Holy Land.  Paul is preaching in the wicked capital of the Roman Empire rather than in the Holy City Jerusalem.  His message is indeed that of the Kingdom of God (Acts 28:31), but this message seems to have little to do with the Jewish people" (Ladd, Young Church, 19).  What we see in Acts is a transformation of the Jewish hope, and a replacement of the Israelites nation in the plan of God by a largely Gentile religious fellowship.

The word for "church" (ekklesia) first occurs in Acts 5:11.  Its use indicates that the new religious fellowship described in Acts, resulting from the exaltation of Jesus and the conferral of the Spirit, is the new people of God, the people of the Messianic era, those who constitute the one people of God wherever they reside.  As ekklesia, the Church is the new Israel, the people of God in which Israel, or the old ekklesia, finds its continuing existence.  The new people is no longer simply equivalent to the nation of Israel.  First of all it is a new people within Israel, as a kind of believing "remnant."  Later it is expands to include Gentiles, and thus becomes a new people both within and without Israel.  The vital unity of the ekklesia is shown in the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost.  In many languages they are speaking of the same thing--the mighty deeds of God.  There is a reversal of Babel.  The earlier "confusion" of tongues is now displaced by a "confession" of tongues in praise of God. 

Concerning the overcoming of racial prejudice, Ladd says (Young Church, 59): "It is not easy for us to understand what a momentous step this was.  No more deeply rooted racial prejudice has ever existed than Jewish prejudice against non-Jews.  It was religiously grounded, for it was impossible for a man to be a good Jew and engage in free fellowship with Gentiles."  By associating with Gentiles, the early Jewish Christians consented to no longer being "good Jews." 

Why does Acts devote so much space to the final visist of Paul to Jerusalem (21:17-26:32)?  No new churches were established, no theological or ecclesiastical problems were resolved, and Paul is rebuffed time and again in this passage.  Surely this was not the only way Paul could get to Rome!  Certainly the answer has to do with the importance of Israel's rejection of the gospel.  The plot is incomplete without a final and formal rejection of the gospel by official Judaism.  Note that in the providence of God, the Jewish response to Paul becomes the occasion for Paul's going to Rome.  This is a biographical analogue for the theological doctrine that Jewish disobedience to God has become the occasion for Gentile obedience (cf. Rom. 11).

Salvation History.  A common view of Luke-Acts in mid-century is that Luke, by adopting historical narrative as his mode of expression, betrayed the essentially apocalyptic and eschatological mode of the primitive gospel.  For on the Bultmannian viewpoint, the primitive Christian apocalypic is manifested only in contingent and temporary expressions.  The Spirit is really unable to substitute for the fullness of the New Age, and is only an ersatz.  Luke, to put it bluntly, has de-eschatologized the kerygma.  In Conzelmann's famous interpretation, Luke has turned the end of history--Jesus' 'first' coming--into the middle of history.  "Jesus announces the Kingdom but not the proximity of the Kingdom" (Bovon, 13).   

Yet, in response, Luke is concerned with the life of redeemed humanity in all its concreteness and corporality and communalism.  And it is all too easy to forget the connection between the 'first' and the 'second' coming of Jesus.  The present age of the church is not 'secularized', but is genuinely the Messianic age.  Bovon says (p. 27): "The redaction of Acts does not represent a fleeing into secular activity, but rather the fulfillment of an evangelizing mission which the eschatological nature of the present time imposes."  Luke directly integrates the fulfillment of the purpose of God (cf. the important phrase, boule tou theou) into the lives of humankind (Bovon, 76).   

"Salvation history" implies that God's "project is accomplished by stages linked by thresholds" (Bovon, 76).  The main stage and center of Lucan theology, one should not forget, is the very life of Jesus.  "The Parousia, or at least the date of the end, loses its importance.  Only the arche, the beginning, counts.  The telos, the end, depends of [sic] it: not by reason of a historical determinism but rather by theological necessity" (Bovon, 76).  Without doubt, however, Luke believes in an "end of history" where God manifests His presence and power in fulness. 

According to one criticism (Bovon, 26), the Germans have concentrated all their attention on the "history" in "salvation history" rather than the "salvation" part.  This may be why they fail to see the compatibility of Luke's presentation of history with the other gospels' presentation of apocalyptic.  They in effect see everything in terms of calendar dates, a coming of Christ either now or at the end of history.  They fail to see how the salvation of the present is a real anticipation of the end.  In the model of salvation history, the total historical reality of Luke's narration is seen from the viewpoint of the divine will, which adapts itself to history and molds history according to its own purposes (Bovon, 13).  Bovon points out that such works as the Protoevangelium of James seeks to complete the story of Jesus by going back into the past and sacralizing it.  It passes over from Jesus to Mary, and contemplates Mary's birth and miraculous infancy.  Acts, by contrast, prolongs the story of Jesus by carrying it into the often painful reality of the Church (Bovon, 196).

The Fulfilment and Interpretation of the OT.  The OT holds a major place in Luke-Acts.  This is especially true of the Christological speeches in the first half of Acts.  It is also especially true of the birth narrative (Lk. 1-2), which is saturated with OT expressions: "Even if the Scripture is never cited in an explicit manner, the infancy narrative is bathed in a Biblical ambiance" (Bovon, 105).  Both these sections relate two salvation-historical beginnings, and at both points the prominence of the OT seems to be an indication of the importance of continuity--that what is now coming into existence stands in essential union with what has gone before.

The fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures in the life and career of Jesus is a big theme in the last chapter of Luke 24, the chapter which serves as a kind of brdige between the two sections of Luke-Acts.  There Jesus incognito tells the disciples of how he has fulfilled the OT (Lk. 24:27) and then directly states the same to them at the end of the chapter (Lk. 24:44).   

The enthronement in Psalm 110, in OT context, had to do with an earthly throne in Jerusalem.  In Acts this is reinterpreted in terms of the heavenly enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God.  Similarly the "rebuilding of the dwelling of David" (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-18) is reinterpreted as being fulfilled already in Christ.   

The commonest quotations in Acts (e.g., Ps. 110, Ps. 16, etc.) may be drawn from a stock of verses drawn together by the early church as testimonia.  Luke lengthens the quotation of Isaiah 40 that Mark already cites (Lk. 3:4 ff.), and constructs the scene of Jesus' preaching at Nazareth around the text of Isaiah 61.  Luke 24, without citing specific texts, indicates how Christians should use the OT.  It makes the OT into primarily a prophetic or typological book; it validates a Christological approach to the OT.  While OT quotations are rarer in the latter half of Acts, Luke sees fit to conclude Acts with specific reference to Isaiah 6, which justifies the mission to Gentiles in light of the Jewish rejection of the gospel. 

There are significant scholarly discussions related to the question of what editions of the Greek Old Testament Luke is citing, whether the LXX or something else.  There are also discussions over what theological and hermeneutical functions are fulfilled in these citations.  According to W.K.L. Clarke, Luke's quotations in Acts agree with the LXX identically in five cases, and substantially in seven cases.  In sixteen cases the quotation is quite "free."

Since the Church alone is the true heir of Israel, according to Luke, the correct understanding of the OT prophecies depends on her.  Acts 13:27 indicates that the Jews did not understand the things written in the OT.  Yet they are excused temporarily--that is, excused until the proclamation goes forth in which there becomes evident the true meaning of the events of Christ's career and the correlation of these events with the OT prophecies.  At this point, the continuing misunderstanding of the OT becomes, for Luke, inexcusable.  Even the disciples misunderstood Jesus, and frequently enough during his lifetime and during the passion week events.  The final chapter of Acts shows that Luke accords a large place to obtuseness and ignorance, even willful blindness, on the part of Israel (Bovon, 106).  "The Scriptural proof, like the Gospel narrative, belongs to the rhetoric of persuasion.  It is not enough to open the book, one must open his eyes and beyond his eyes, his mind and heart."

Acts makes use of typology in certain respects. In Acts 7, "What brings Moses and Jesus together, in Luke's thought is . . . the failure which the two messengers of God meet in their effort to convey a message of deliverance" (Bovon, 92).  Others go further and see a systematic connection between Moses and Christ, in light of Luke 9:31, which speaks of the exodus which Jesus had to accomplish in Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit.  Luke mentions the Holy Spirit more often than the other synoptics, and chapters 1-12 of Acts is the portion of the NT where the Spirit appears most insistently.  The term pneuma appears about seventy times in Acts, some fifty times referring to the Holy Spirit.  Other terms such as "power" and "promise" are also used by Luke as circumlocutions for the Holy Spirit. 

One clear evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in the pages of Acts is the decentralization of the spiritual awakening taking place.  There seems to be no "grand plan" conceived by any of the human agents involved in the drama, and nonetheless the events fall out in such a way that a certain "grand plan" is ultimatly achieved--though not without detours and delays.  No one group "controls" or "owns" what is happening.  The focus shifts back and forth between various players--the apostles, Stephen, Philip, Saul, Cornelius, Peter, Barnabas, etc.--yet God is the one directing the action.  One wonders if "centralization" or "institutionalization" of the church, at least at this point, would have "quenched the Spirit" (1 Thess. 5:19).   

It is the Spirit that gives the parresia ("boldness") necessary for preaching the gospel.  Yet the internal life of the Church, no less than the external mission, is guided and empowered by the Spirit.  As counselor, the Spirit guides the deliberations of the Church (Acts 15).  As prophetic, the Spirit announces the sufferings ahead for Paul the witness (Acts 20).  As intransigent, the Spirit will not tolerate those who seek to trick Him (Acts 5).  As convicting, the Spirit arouses opposition to the Church among the unbelieving (Acts 7:52; Bovon, p. 203).  This gives one some idea of the diversity of the Spirit's manifestation in Acts; yet Pentecost shows the unity of the Spirit's work in leading to the glorification of God through Jesus Christ. 

The gift of the Spirit should not be "over-individualized."  It is given to the Church, for the building up of the Church, not as a private personal possession to be hoarded up for oneself.  According to G. W. H. Lampe, the gospel of Luke and Acts are symmetrical: the gift of the Spirit conferred on Jesus at baptism (or conception?) corresponds to the outpouring on the Church at Pentecost (Bovon, p. 208).  The speech of Jesus at Nazareth has its counterpart in Peter's speech at Pentecost.  The miracles of Jesus correlate with the miracles done by the apostles.   

Luke believes fundamentally that God acts in history through His Spirit.  It is this central conviction that permits Luke to address the problem of the particularism of the gospel.  The gift of the Spirit to the Gentiles is what makes sense of the claim that a Jewish Messiah has relevance for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. 

The Spirit is regularly connected with conversion and baptism (Acts 2:38), and it is the Spirit who sets apart the believer upon entrance to the Church.  In one case the Spirit precedes water-baptism (Acts 10), and in the other cases the Spirit comes only after water-baptism and the imposition of hands (Acts 8 and 19).  While some connection between a human rite of the imposition of hands and the conferral of the Spirit is clear enough, this is never explained in Acts.  We are left with questions such as: Does the baptism properly speaking confer the Spirit?  Or is it the laying on of hands, or perhaps faith itself?  Could the laying on of hands be more of a human affirmation than a divine intervention?  Is it necessary to be an apostle or minister to administer these rites (Bovon, 230)?  It seems that Luke never directly says or implies that baptism confers the Spirit, while he does says that the laying on of hands confers the Spirit (Bovon, 234).  Bovon (pp. 235-36) concludes that baptism is an effective sign of forgiveness and the invocation of the name (Acts 2:38), whereas the laying on of hands is an effective sign of the gift of the Spirit (Acts 8:15-17, 9:17, 10:47-48, 19:6).  The gift of the Spirit is connected not only with the laying on of hands, but also with prayer as an integral part of the process (Acts 8:15,17).  Contrary to the claims of some Protestant interpreters, the consequence of the imposition of hands is not merely the visible charisms of the Spirit, but the Spirit Himself.  The texts themselves make this clear.  "Normally, water baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and the imposition of hands for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit form two moments of one ceremony" (Bovon, 235-6).  Regarding the imposition of hands, we may note that it is not always mentioned in those contexts where we might expect it (Acts 2:41, 8:38).  The case of Ananias, who is simply titled a "disciple," and yet lays hands on Paul, might suggest that the imposition of hands is not reserved only for officially acknowledged ministers of the Church.  "Luke thinks . . . that God has intrusted a power to those who belong to him, i.e. those who lives as servants and not in an autonomous manner.  They know this power can be transmitted to new convertes when the latter have been baptized and received, after a prayer, the imposition of hands" (Bovon, 236).  Luke does not distinguish Spirit-baptism from water-baptism. 

What is the relation of Jesus to the Spirit in Lukan theology?  According to E. Schweizer (Bovon, 212), Jesus in Matthew and Mark appears as a "pneumatic," i.e., submitted to the Spirit's control and direction.  In Luke, however, Jesus is the Spirit's master.  Thus Jesus is not impelled into the desert and Galilee by the Spirit, but is rather accompanied by the Spirit (Mk. 1:12 and Lk 4:1,14).  There may be a distinction here, but Schweizer appears to have overstated it by speaking of Jesus' "domination" of the Spirit.  In salvation-historical terms, Jesus does not become master of the Spirit until His time of exaltation, and it is only at this time that he as the master of the Spirit is the sender of the Spirit upon his disciples.  Luke consistently avoids the "Gnostic" danger whereby the elect regard the Spirit as their own natural possession.  Even in his indwelling the Spirit retains his "gift" character; the gift of God cannot be regarded by any human being as properly his own.  The dynamic vocabulary of "filling" emphasizes this point that the Spirit comes upon one from without (Bovon, p. 215).  Jesus in the gospels seems to have spoken of the Spirit only rarely, and then often when constrained by his adversaries.  The disciples of Acts in contrast openly and frequently speak of the Spirit.

 

Miracle stories in the synoptic gospels and in Acts have certain customary elements: 1. evidence of the seriousness of the affliction; 2. the word of power that heals; 3. the acclamation of God's work in the form of awe, wonder, and faith on the part of the onlookers.  What of the credibility of the miracle reports of Acts?  The contrast is great when the Acts of the Apostles is compared to the Apocryphal Acts, where the wicked are often blinded or struck dead, and the disciples of Christ are raised from the dead--all more or less at the whim of the apostle.  The closest thing to this in the canonical acts is the set of traditions related to Peter in the early chapters--the miracles thought to arise from the shadow of Peter, the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, and the raising of Tabitha.  Throughout Acts, there is a steady reduction in the emphasis on the miraculous working of the Spirit--a pattern also visible in the Pauline epistles.  There are fewer miracles reports, that is, in the later chapters than in the earlier chapters.

Christology.  "Luke loves Jesus.  He loves the story of this life: the vigorous interventions of Christ for the poor, the parables that attest to the kingdom, henceforth present in the structure of the world . . . For him, this Messiah is worthy of mention, worthy of the gospel, for he forced no one: the effectiveness of his witness comes from persuasion and not constraint."  The character of Jesus is in marked contrast to the political incendiarism of the Zealots, whom Luke greatly opposes.  This does not, however, mark out Luke's gospel as "otherworldly" or as "opium for the masses," with promises only of a "sweet bye and bye."  On the contrary, the notions of peace and kingdom in Luke never lose their earthly and political connotations.  Jesus and his disciples manifest a life in this age which bears witness to their interior force and exterior courage.  They show themselves to be people of conviction.  Luke presents Jesus as a "man" (aner; Acts 2:22, 17:31).  Some have even seen this expression as testimony to an ancient "adoptionistic" Christology.  Others use the term "subordinationist."  Luke certainly knows little of any pre-existence of Christ, for only Acts 2:25 could be interpreted in this sense. 

Some of the (attributed) distinctives of Lucan Christology in Acts are as follows: the absence of any doctrine of Christ's pre-existence; an "adoptionistic" tendency (Jesus as "the man appointed by God"); the Easter exaltation of Jesus; the preeminence of the Resurrection over the Crucifixion; the function of Jesus as eschatological Judge; the present sitting of Jesus as God's right hand, whence he sends the Spirit; the submission of the Servant to the One who glorifies Him; the invocation of the name Jesus; the necessary passage through the Church for the one who desires access to the Lord.  On the whole, Acts speaks little of Jesus' teaching.  More is said generally about his minstry, and much more of course regarding his cross and resurrection.  In this, Acts and the Pauline epistles have much in common.  Unlike Paul and John, Acts is unaware of a "corporate" conception of Christ--that is, as the "head" of a "body of Christ."  Jesus is an individual, above all, who is seated in the heavenlies with God and who will return. 

The Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.  A common position on Luke is that he does not really present a theology of the cross.  In fact he does think of Jesus' death as not a blow to God's providence and plan, but as a part of it (see Peter's sermon in Acts 2).  The death of Jesus indeed conforms to the plan of God, even though Luke is not especially concerned to emphasize its redemptive value.  Acts 20 is just about the only text in Acts that presents any specific reference to the expiatory value of Jesus' death.  Moule suggests that this is because of Acts' literary genre; only in catechetical instruction would there have been an emphasis on the expiatory value of Jesus' death (Bovon, 156). 

Luke 24 shows the author to be less concerned with the historical proof that Jesus really rose, than with the accomplishment of the promise: "Why do you seek Him, who is living, among the dead? . . . Remember how he spoke to you" (Lk. 24:5-7).  Acts 1, with its reference to "many convincing proofs" of Jesus' bodily resurrection, might be seen as going in the opposite direction.      

In some ways the most important date for salvation-history is neither the cross, nor the resurrection, but the ascension.  At this point a new period begins.  The ascent of the legitimate heir represents an enthronement (Acts 2:36, 5:31, 13:33; cf. Lk. 19:11-27).  Yet we should not forget that the Ascension, from another angle, is a painful breach between Jesus and his community.  "Held back by the heavens, Christ must turn to mediation in order to act" (Bovon, 133). 

Salvation.  The most frequent Lucan use of sozo and soteria designates a present reality.  Jesus has alredy come, the era of salvation has begun, eschatological joy and peace are here.  Nonetheless Luke still realizes that this present salvation needs to come to its fulness in a future time (Bovon, 263).  Salvation is a key conception in Luke, inasmuch as it provides a way round the quarrel between proponents of Luke's salvation-history and proponents of Luke's eschatology.  Salvation in Luke suggests that history and eschatology are mutually implied.     

As the evidence from the infancy narrative shows (Lk. 1-2), the salvation preached in Luke's writings is more related to the first coming of Jesus than to his death--"a Savior is born to you" (Lk. 2:11), "my eyes have seen your salvation" (Lk. 2:30).  For Luke it is the life of Jesus which accomplishes salvation: "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost" (Lk. 19:10).  Yet the necessity of proclaiming the message of Jesus, and the believing reception of it, remove any idea that there might be something "automatic" about the salvation that derives from Jesus' coming.  In Jesus Christ, the God of the fathers has manifested his mercy.  The "Magnificat" and the "Benedictus" are witnesses to a soteriology that stresses the continuity of God's dealings with his people (Bovon, 243-4).  With regard to the specific content of "salvation," Luke summarizes the salvific mission of Jesus in terms of Is. 61 (Lk. 4). 

Regarding the law, Luke sometimes says that the keeping of the law is necessary for salvation (Lk. 10:25-28 and 18:18).  But the present "perverse generation" (Acts 2:40) has not known how to obey God, and in consequence the law has become an unbearable burden (Acts 15:10).  Luke insists on human responsibility.  Repentance and conversion are a human task that must be performed.  It is a task that bears "fruit" (Lk. 3:7; Acts 26:20). 

Church and Ministry.  Acts is a bridge between the Church as it was originally, and the Church as it came later to be.  Yet Luke not only wishes to show in the abstract how the Church got from there to here.  He wishes also to show that the changes have been "faithful changes," changes in accordance with the earliest traditions.  The Church has been faithful to its origins.  If there is faithlessness leading to the separation of church and synagogue, Luke wishes to underscore that the faithlessness lies on the part of the Jewish leaders and not the early Christian leaders. 

Dupont notes (Salvation of the Gentiles, 7-8): "The Church to which Luke belonged already felt at a certain distance from its roots.  Its identity was not always obvious, nor continuity with its past keenly felt.  Was there any clear connection between the little group of disciples which Jesus had gathered round himself . . . and those many Christian 'cells' scattered by Luke's time all over the Roman Empire, composed mostly of converted pagans and estranged from a Judaism now centered in its synagogues?"  Luke wanted to establish a more clear cut connection between the church of his day and the church of Pentecost.  "Acts shows us that the Church possessed a twofold character.  It is a people of this world, but it is also a people of the world to come.  The first Christians did not separate themselves from the world of which they were a part" (Ladd, Young Church, 93). 

The organization of the Church as recorded in Acts is somewhat of a complex question.  In the first place there are certain individuals who stand out as prominent: Peter, Stephen, and Paul.  Then there are various orders of ministry in the early church: the apostolate (which could be identical with "the Twelve"), the witnesses (applied only to Paul and Stephen, Acts 22:15, 22:20, 26:16, along with the Twelve), the seven (Acts 6), the prophets, the elders (suddenly appearing in Acts 11).

It is difficult to see any warrant in Acts for a strongly hierarchical and authoritarian conception of the Christian church.  The church in Acts is to some degree unified, but not at all uniform.  Moreover, the narrative of Acts does not advance in accordance with what one might expect in a church modelled on the institutional model.  The "apostles" are often not the center of the picture, and sometimes decidedly peripheral.  On the one hand, apostles blunder and only haltingly lead the church forward, and on the other hand, many of the key players in the drama are not numbered among the apostles.  

Now for some further notes on the early church offices.  The choice of the additional apostle to make up "the Twelve" in Acts 1 could be interpreted as follows: "They are the authority of the universal Church, the spiritual Israel.  Jesus did not abandon his carnal people, but based it upon a new foundation, Peter, and through him, the other apostles" (Bovon, p. 361).  Another interpretation of Acts 1 sees the decisive element in the conception of "the Twelve" presupposed by this chapter as the witnessing to Jesus.  They are not thus a "foundation," so to speak, but are related to the "expansion" of the Church.

Perhaps the limitation of "witness" to Paul and Stephen along with the Twelve indicates that they for Luke are witnesses to the truth rather than witnesses to the facts.  Presumably there were others who might have borne "witness" to the facts related to Jesus, even including the post-resurrection appearances.  A martus is more than an "eyewitness" in the modern sense, but is an intermediary between the risen Christ and the present age.  A "witness" (martus) in the New Testament sense is not to be identified with the "martyr" of later times, with all of the connotations associated with it.  

There is no much in Acts on the application of disicpline in the early community.  Luke is much more interested in telling the success stories than in recounting the problems that required rigorous discipline (Bovon, 375).  Even the recounting of the spectacular events related to Ananias and Sapphira seems designed more to highlight the authority of the gospel and the gospel messengers rather than to show how discipline ought to be exercised in the Church.  The only genuine discipline texts in Acts are 3:23, 5:1-11, and 8:18-24.   

With reference to the eucharist, H. Lietzmann distinguished the "Palestinian" (and Lucan) celebration of a joyous meal which extends the fellowship of Jesus and his disciples in expectation of the kingdom, from the "Greek" (and Pauline) notion of a meal that is a memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus (Bovon, p. 379).  More recent research suggests, however, that there is Semitic background for the essential elements of Paul's teaching on the eucharist.  The great rejoicing of Acts 2:46 (hagalliasis) reflects the eschatological nature of the meal.   

Regarding the Christian life, P. H. Menoud sees a call to a four-fold perseverance implied in Acts 2:42: perseverance in the apostolic teaching, perseverance in communion with fellow believers, perseverance in the breaking of bread, and perseverance in prayer (Bovon, 384-5).  Indeed "perseverance" seems to be a key theme for Luke.  For Luke, "testing" (peirasmos) does not exclusively denote a coming eschatological testing, but instead denotes all the trials of the Christian life (cf. Acts 14:22).  There is thus a call to "endurance" (hupomone; Bovon, 385).   

One of the ecclesiological themes of Act is koinonia (Bovon, 396-7).  The reference to the early disciples being "of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32) involves a reference to the Greek literary friendship tradition.  Another kind of expression of koinonia is of course the oft-discussed sharing of goods (Acts 2:44-45).  Another sort of expression is embodied in the term homothumadon (Acts 1:14, 2:46, 4:24, and 5:12); this word makes it clear that koinonia is first and foremost a spiritual union.  Yet another expression is epi to auto with either a local sense (Lk. 17:35; Acts 2:1, 4:26) or a global sense (Acts 2:44, 47).  What happens to this koinonia in the latter part of Acts?  References to it are much less common there.  Does the focus on the missionary frontier of the church necessitate that that aspect of early Christian experience recede into the background?  Perhaps the sharing of goods was "a social experiment" (Ladd, Young Church, p. 67) flowing out of a deep sense of religious fellowship. 

 We have a first liturgical prayer recorded in Acts 4:23-31. 

Does Acts record a "secularization"?  Do the Pastoral Epistles?  Only if one regards "institutionalization" to be tantamount to "secularization."  Yet any human community, to have an abiding place in the world, must undergo "institutionalization."  The idea that all "institutions" are "secular" by nature does not do justice to the tremendously broad range of entities included under "institutions."  The "institutions" developed in the history of Christendom can be either a reflection of fidelity to Christ and the gospel or of compromise and worldliness.  Both possibilities exist with respect to Christian "institutions." 

Luke reserves the title of "apostle" for the Twelve.  It is the same with respect to "witness," with the sole exceptions of Paul and Stephen.  Thus Luke's Paul is a "witness," not an "apostle." 

The apostles are witnesses more than pillars of the Church.  They do not concern themselves with any apostolic succession.  Though Judas is replaced, when James is matyred, he is not replaced.  With only one or two exceptions, Luke uses the term ekklesia to refer to "local churches" rather than to the "universal church."  The Church is not an end in itself; it is a "way."  Luke often uses laos and Israel to refer to the Jewish people.  Yet sometimes these are carried over to the Church (Acts 15:14, 18:10).

Church in the World / Missions.  Luke assumes that the story of Jesus (cf. Lk. 24) has not fully been told, until the mission of Jesus as it takes place in Acts has been recounted.  "For it is in the missionary preaching of the Church among the nations that Jesus' mission is brought to completion and Old Testament promises finally fulfilled" (Dupont, Salvation of the Gentiles, 8).  That is one reason that missions is such a portentous and provocative topic for anyone concerned with the fulfillment of God's promises.  It is perhaps the most concrete and tangible way in the present age that we see the plan of God further unfolding.  Acts is thus a continuation of Jesus' own Messianic activity.   

"The Book of Acts does not tell primarily the history of the Church, or the Holy Spirit either.  It situates in the foreground the diffusion of the Word of God" (Bovon, 403).  Lucan ecclesiology is dynamic in every sense: the church spreads through time, through space, and across every conceivable cultural barrier (even to the various despised "outsider" groups--Gentiles, Samaritans, women, etc.).  There is a spiritual law that governs the church's existence: Grow or die, advance or perish.  The church is just about the only human institution in existence that exists for the sake of those outside of it.

"We can sum up Luke's political attitude as follows: (a) towards the Jews: one must obey God rather than men; (b) towards the Empire: one should render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Conzelmann, Theology of St. Luke, 148).

The legitimacy of the church, and its non-seditious character, are a big theme of Luke's in Acts.  Luke wrote this book (in part) to prove that "Christians are not traitors."  Time and again, Luke recounts various encounters between Paul and Roman officials, showing that Christians were nowhere guilty of improper conduct toward the state.  (This tends further to confirm the idea of "Theophilus" as a Roman official.)  The first Roman official that Paul encounters in Acts, Sergius Paulus (13:6-12), responds positively to the message.  Paul had friends among the "Asiarchs" (19:31).  Ultimately Paul's imprisonment is not the result of any sort of unfavorable judgement by Rome.  Luke gives a detailed account of Paul's trial before Felix and Festus in order to show that they considered Paul innocent of any crime against the Roman State.  The Roman officials also look good in that they apologize for improper conduct after learning that Paul is a Roman citizen, whereas the Jews bring unjust and untrue charges against Paul and even riot in Jerusalem.  Of course, there is a pagan riot in Ephesus, so one cannot say that the pagans in Acts are all portrayed as reasonable and the Jews as unreasonable.  It is interesting that both riots were religiously motivated.  This may confirm that the Romans had to be extremely careful about inter-religious tensions in the empire, which could erupt into violence at any time.  (This may have been a bit like the British colonial rule in India, where there were underlying tensions between Hindus and Muslims.)

The Jews used the Christian belief in Christ as King and the teaching of the Kingdom as a basis for the charge of sedition.  It is clear that Paul says little regarding "the Kingdom of God," perhaps in part because he was attempting to communicate to Gentiles, and because Gentiles might so easily misconstrue it.  When it came to Jesus' religious "Lordship," Christians drew the line, and would not back down before Roman claims to a "divine" Caesar.

According to Schuetz, the way of the church in the world is a way of persecution, yet just as the disciples of Jesus misunderstood the nature of Jesus' own sufferings, so the later disciples misunderstand the nature of the sufferings that fall upon their number.  Bovon explains: "This redemptive history is not uniquely a song of triumph, briefly interrupted by the failure of the cross, but the continuous intervention of God who knows how to use the destructive power of Satan and his cohorts" (Bovon, 160).

There is a connection between the preaching to Gentiles in Acts, and the missionary approach taken by Hellenistic Judaism.  "With a missionary goal, Hellenistic Judaism used a schema of preaching which invited the Gentiles to leave their idols and turn to the living God.  The schema, slightly Christianized, is found in the two speeches of Acts in which Gentiles are addressed" (Bovon, p. 128, referring to Acts 14 and Acts 17).   

One can follow C. F. D. Moule by thinking of three types of witness in the world (Bovon, 312): by word, by action, and by communal life.  The last of the three adds a new dimension, often overlooked in discussions of Christian witness, where the witness of words and deeds are compared and contrasted.  Perhaps we can refer to these as witness in service, witness in proclamation, witness in community. 

Why Was Acts Written?

To record the history of the earliest church, which we would scarcely know at all apart from it. 

Q: Is this a mere chronicle?  Or are there points that Luke wishes to get across through the narrative? 

- It may in fact be seen as history written with an apologetic purpose.  To understand the "apologetic" aspect, consider the various charges being brought against the Christians.

- Luke wants to show that Christians are law-abiding citizens rather than subversives.  The Romans are portrayed pretty well; the Jews not so well.  There is a pro-Roman slant to things, which gives us some hint as to the intended reader.  (Even Paul's imprisonment is not the result of any crime against Rome--Luke makes that perfectly clear.)

- Q: Ought we to regard the church in Acts as a model for us today?  Why or why not? 

What Do We Learn About Jesus?

- For the disciples of Acts, Jesus is exalted and glorified at the right hand of God, and reigns as Lord.  This thought dominates the conception of the earliest Christians.

- Acts highlights the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus more than the teaching of Jesus.  Resurrection just as important, if not more important, than the crucifixion. 

- A little is said regarding the ministry of Jesus, but almost nothing regarding the pre-existence.

- Jesus will come again as Judge of the world. 

- Salvation comes "in the name of Jesus." 

What Do We Learn About the Holy Spirit?

 - Jesus is the Bearer of the Spirit in Luke (e.g., ch. 4), becomes Jesus the Giver of the Spirit in Acts.

- Acts 1-12 mention the Holy Spirit more than any other comparable passage in the Bible.  "The Acts of the Holy Spirit" might be a fitting title! 

- The Spirit is given other designations, such as "promise" and "power" (see Luke 24, Acts 1). 

- The Spirit gives the power to evangelize (Acts 1), and boldness (Acts 4). 

- The Spirit guides the deliberations of the church (Acts 15); the Spirit will not tolerate those who seek to trick him (Acts 5). 

- The coming of the Spirit is connected in various texts with: faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands, though it is hard to establish a precise relationship between all these.

What Do We Learn About the Relation of Jews and Gentiles?

- On the one hand, Jesus is the Messiah sent for the Jews, and the Jews have in effect a prior claim on Jesus. 

- On the other hand, Jesus is the Messiah for Gentiles as well as Jews, and Gentiles can remain culturally Gentile and still remain as Christians. 

- By the end of Acts (esp. ch. 28), the Jewish community as a whole is settling into an attitude of increasing resistance to the gospel.  Meanwhile the church is becoming increasingly Gentile-dominated.

- Luke devotes a great deal of space to Paul's visit to Jerusalem (21:17-26:32), a visit that resulted in no new churches and no doctrinal decisions.  Why?  Because Luke considers the rejection of the gospel in Jerusalem as historically decisive. 

- Though it may have been excusable to misunderstand Jesus during his life and ministry (just as the apostles themselves did!), it is no longer excusable after the clear preaching of the apostles.  Now is the hour of decision for Jesus, and those who reject Christ will be held accountable.

- The book begins in Jerusalem, the holy capital, and ends in the secular capital, Rome.  The Jewish hope is transformed by the end of the book. 

What Do We Learn About "Eschatology" or the End Times?

- Christ's disciples are not to attempt to figure out the date of Christ's return, but are to carry on preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1).

- The "end times" really began on the day of Pentecost, and the church is an "eschatological community." 

- The coming of the Spirit is itself a sign that a new age has begun in history, following Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. 

What Do We Learn About the Old Testament?

- The earlier writings have to be read in a new way because of the coming of Jesus.  These are now "fulfilled" in Jesus.  (Cf. Jesus' sermon in Lk. 4; the Emmaus Road discourse, Lk. 24.)   

- Much that was obscure and difficult to grasp in the Old Testament Scriptures is now perfected clear in light of the completed earthly life of Jesus.

- There are a certain common stock of OT sayings applied to Jesus (e.g., Ps. 110, Is. 53, Ps. 16--look these up).

What Do We Learn About the Church?

- The church is the true heir of the Old Testament people of God.  It is the new ekklesia--the Old Testament term for the Jewish "assembly." 

- The book of Acts tells us how the church got "from there to here."  It is a bridge between the church as it originally was, and as it came to be.

Q: How is the church different at the end of Acts than at the beginning?

- Luke wants to show that the changes in the church have been "faithful changes." 

- Organization of the early church is not straightforward.  There are various leaders--the Twelve, Paul, Peter, Stephen, the Seven (Acts 6), the prophets, the elders (Acts 20), etc.

- The early community seems to be de-centralized in terms of leadership.  No one human leader or group of leaders is calling all the shots. 

- Lukan summaries (2:42-47 and 4:32-37) show an astounding depth of fellowship (koinonia) in the earliest church. 

What Do We Learn About Missions?

- The story of Jesus is not over by the end of Luke.  It is not over by the end of Acts.  It is not over until "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8) have heard the message of Jesus.

- Acts 1:8 gives the pattern for the diffusion of the gospel--Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles.

- The Spirit is the great leader in missions (Acts 1, 13:1 ff., etc.).  This church does not always do the best "strategic planning," but they sure are "Spirit-filled."

- The gospel is multi-cultural.  Paul's whole life and ministry is based on that truth. 

Background

Themes

Thematic Essays on Acts of the Apostles

Commentary List

  • Barclay, William. The New Daily Study Bible; The Acts of the Apostles. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2003 [1975].
  • Barnes, Albert. Notes Explanatory and Practical on the Acts of the Apostles. New York: Harper, 1869. [Google Books]
  • Bede, the Venerable. The Venerable Bede; Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1989.
  • Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.
  • Bruce, F. F.; ed. Commentary on Acts of the Apostles. Rev. ed. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans.
  • Calvin, Jean. Commentary Upon the Acts of the Apostles. 2 vols. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1844. [Public Domain]
  • Clarke, Adam. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments . . . With a Commentary and Critical Notes. 7 vols. New York: Ezra Sargent, 1811. [Google Books]
  • Dick, John. Lectures on Acts of the Apostles. New York: Robert Carter, 1857. [Public Domain; CCEL]
  • Dupont, Jacques. The Salvation of the Gentiles: Essays on the Acts of the Apostles. Translated by John R. Keating. New York: Paulist Press, 1979.
  • Du Veil, C. M. A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. London: J. Haddon, 1851. [Google Books]
  • Erasmus, Desiderius. Paraphrase on the Acts of the Apostles. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995.
  • Fernando, Ajith. Acts; The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.
  • Gundry, Robert H. Commentary on the New Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010.
  • Hackett, Horatio B. A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia: American Baptists Publication Society, 1882. [Google Books]
  • Jamieson, Robert; A. R. Faucet; and David Brown. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. 2 vols. [Vol. 1: New Testament]. Hartford: S. S. Scranton, 1878. [Google Books]
  • Jenks, William; ed. The Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible . . . Containing Scott's Marginal References; Matthew Henry's Commentary. 5 vols. Brattleboro, VT: Fessenden, 1835, 1836, 1839 [Vol. 3--Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1849]. [Vol. 5: Acts to Revelation] [Google Books]
  • Lechler, Gotthard Victor. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures . . . Containing the Acts of the Apostles. Edited by John Peter Lange. New York: Charles Scribners, 1900. [Google Books]
  • Lightfoot, John. A Commentary Upon the Acts of the Apostles, Chronicall and Criticall. London: Printed by R. C. for Andrew Crooke, 1645. [Public Domain]
  • Maclaren, Alexander. The Acts of the Apostles. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1894. [Google Books]
  • Marshall, I. Howard. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Volume 5: Acts of the Apostles. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008 [1980].
  • Martin, Francis; with Evan Smith. Elowsky, Joel C.; ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Acts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.
  • McGarvey, J. W. New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Co., 1892. [Public Domain]
  • McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible. 5 vols. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1981. [Vol. 4: Matthew to Romans]
  • Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm; et al. Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Acts of the Apostles. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889. [Google Books]
  • Pearce, Zachary. A Commentary, With Notes, On the Four Evangelists and the Acts of the Apostles. 2 vols. London: Printed by E. Cox, 1777. [Public Domain]
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. Acts. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.
  • Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.
  • Poole, Matthew. Annotations Upon the Holy Bible. 3 vols. New York: Robert Carter, 1853. [Vol. 3: Matthew to Revelation.] [Google Books]
  • Rice, Edwin W. A Commentary on the Acts. Philadelphia: The Union Press, 1900. [Google Books]
  • Roberton, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament - Acts. [CCEL]
  • Schneider, Gerhard. Die Apostelgeschichte. Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament. 2 vols. Freiburg: Herder, 1980-1982. [German]
  • Stellhorn, F. W. Annotations on the Acts of the Apostles; The Lutheran Commentary. Edited by Henry Eyster Jacobs. New York: Christian Literature Co., 1896. [Google Books]
  • Stott, John R. The Spirit, the Church, and the World: The Message of Acts. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990.
  • Trapp, John. A Commentary or Exposition Upon the Four Evangelists, and the Acts of the Apostles. London: Printed by A. M. for John Bellamie, 1647. [Public Domain]
  • Westcott, B. F.; and Hort, F. J. A. The Acts of the the Apostles . . . With Explanatory Notes. New York: Macmillan, 1911. [Public Domain]
  • Williams, David John. Acts. New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990.
  • Zahn, Theodor. Die Apostelgeschichte des Lucas. 2 vols. Leipzig: Deichert, 1919-1927. [German]

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