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Wednesday, April 17th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
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Bible Dictionaries
Acts of the Apostles

People's Dictionary of the Bible

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Acts of the Apostles. The book so called is the fifth and last of the historical books of the New Testament; it connects the Gospels with the Epistles, being a fitting supplement to the former and a valuable introduction to the latter. There can be no reasonable question that Luke was the writer of this book. Its date is pretty well determined by the time at which its narrative closes—two years after Paul's being brought a prisoner to Rome. We may, therefore, with much probability assign it to 63 a.d. The title "Acts of the Apostles," by which this book is commonly known, would seem to be a later addition. It does not describe accurately the contents. For the object of the evangelist was neither to give a complete history of the church during the period comprised, nor to record the labors of all the apostles: it was rather to exhibit the fulfillment of promise in the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the consequent planting and growth of the Christian church among Jews and Gentiles by the establishment of centres of influence in various provinces of the empire, beginning at Jerusalem and ending at Home. Keeping this idea steadily in view, we shall see that all the events recorded fall naturally into their places, and that any seeming abruptness is sufficiently accounted for. This book divides itself into two main parts; each being grouped around a central figure.—1. The planting and extension of the church among the Jews by the ministry of Peter. Chs. 1-12. Subdivisions are (1) the organization of the church in Jerusalem, 1-7; (2) the branching forth of the gospel in various directions from the mother church. 8-12. 2. The planting and extension of the church among the Gentiles by the ministry of Paul. 13-28. Subdivisions are (1) Paul's ministry at large, 13-22:26; (2) his ministry in bonds. 22:27; 28. It must be carefully observed that these two parts are closely connected as belonging to one great system. For it is Peter who first introduces a Gentile convert into the church; and Paul, during the whole of his administrations, is careful to proclaim the gospel, in every place where he has opportunity, first to the Jews and afterwards to the Gentiles. There is on the face of it a truthfulness in this book which strongly commends itself to the reader. Thus the speeches attributed to different individuals are in full accordance with their respective characters and the circumstances in which they stood. The author was himself present at several of the events which he narrates—and this he carefully notes by change of person and in the verbs and pronouns he uses; he had, moreover, as a companion of the apostles, the best opportunities of knowing accurately the things he did not personally witness. The book of Acts has sometimes been called the "first missionary report, but with no financial account." The personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with his church adding to its numbers, calling Paul, speaking with him, and also of the Holy Ghost directing the church, are especially noticeable in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 2:4; Acts 2:47; Acts 4:31; Acts 8:39; Acts 9:6; Acts 9:6; Acts 9:10; Acts 10:19; Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6; Acts 18:9.

Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Acts of the Apostles'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​rpd/​a/acts-of-the-apostles.html. 1893.
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